The person who allegedly killed five people at a gay bar the night before Trans Day of Remembrance has announced through their lawyers that they identify as nonbinary and use they/them pronouns.
It would be easy to conclude that the alleged murderer is cynically trying to avoid Hate Crime laws by falsely claiming to be part of the community they were targeting, but this identification, whether true or false, is irrelevant to the application of Hate Crime laws.
1. Hate crime laws don’t become inapplicable just because the act was committed by someone from the targeted group. The key criterion is that the victims were targeted because of their identity, which certainly at least superficially appears to be the case here.
2. Internalized transphobia is common. The idea that an emotionally unstable transgender person couldn’t commit an act of violence against transgender people, or against queer people as a whole, is absurd on its face. Someone who is deeply unhappy with their own identity could easily turn that hatred outward. Indeed, one apparently false explanation for the Pulse shooting was that the shooter was a gay man who was lashing out at his father’s rejection.
3. There continues to be animosity between some gay people and some transgender people. In England, the LGB Alliance (among others) is dedicated to removing transgender people from the queer umbrella. So a transgender shooter attacking a gay club as a statement against anti-trans sentiments in the gay community would be committing a hate crime.
Simply stated: If the murderer targeted Club Q because it was a gay bar, it was a Hate Crime. The SOGI status of the murderer is irrelevant to that.
It’s getting more and more clear that justice is anything but blind. I’m not sure if that would truly be better, but at least it would be more fair.