FBI probes ‘harassers’ as gun-toting trans activist vows ‘self-defense’

FBI probes 'harassers' as gun-toting trans activist vows 'self-defense'

Weeks before Audrey Hale gunned down six people at a private Christian school in Nashville, Kayla Denker had a stern warning for any “transphobes” with sinister ideas.

Denker, a transgender activist who runs a YouTube channel with 700 subscribers, loaded rounds into an AR-style rifle while staring into the camera during the clip, which went viral in the aftermath of Monday’s massacre at The Covenant School, where Hale, 28, fatally shot three students and three adults before being killed by responding cops.

“While advocating just for trans people to ‘arm ourselves’ is not any kind of a solution to the genocide we are facing, I do want to say that if you transphobes do try to come for me I’m ta … ,” Denker captioned the clip, which led to instant blowback online, including calls for authorities in Colorado to investigate.

Earlier Thursday, Denker’s Twitter profile, Pinko Scum, claimed FBI officials contacted her – but that they indicated they were monitoring “YALL [sic] harassers” instead of her. “Because I didn’t do anything wrong,” the profile read, prior to being deleted later Thursday afternoon.

Kayla Denker video
Kayla Denker posted herself with an AR-15 style rifle on social media early in March. She now says it was about being prepared to defend herself.

FBI officials declined to comment on any “specific claims” when reached Thursday by The Post, but said agents remain vigilant to “detect, disrupt and dismantle” any threats that may emerge related to Saturday’s “Trans Day of Vengeance.”

“As always, we ask members of the public to report anything they consider suspicious to law enforcement,” the FBI’s national press office said in a statement. “Additionally, membership in a group is not illegal in and of itself. In fact, it is protected by the First Amendment.

“The FBI will never open an investigation based solely on protected First Amendment activity. We focus on individuals who commit or intend to commit violence and criminal activity that constitutes a federal crime or poses a threat to national security.”

Trans Day of Vengeance flyer
A controversial “Trans Day of Vengeance” is still going ahead after The Covenant School massacre. The FBI told The Post it was monitoring threats arising from the protests.

Denker, who did not respond to multiple requests for comment, insisted in a new video Thursday that she had made her self-defense promise weeks before Hale – a former student at the school who identified as transgender – finalized a manifesto to attack the Christian academy.

“The video, I posted that video on March 5,” Denker said in the 9-minute video of the viral clip. “And it had nothing to do with [Nashville], obviously. It couldn’t have. And all it was – was I have been getting death threats from transphobes for quite a while, as most trans people do. And it just got to me, and so, I do have that rifle.

Nashville school shooting victims
Authorities have identified Monday’s victims as, from top left, William Kinney, Evelyn Dieckhaus, and Hallie Scruggs, and from bottom left, Cynthia Peak, Katherine Koonce, and Mike Hill.

“And I made a video saying if they ever did try to attack me, I would defend myself, that’s it,” Denker concluded. “That’s all it was.”

Denker’s comments come ahead of Saturday’s “Trans Day of Vengeance,” a protest in front of the Supreme Court in Washington, where the Trans Radical Activist Network (TRAN) is calling others to action beginning at 11 a.m.

“This cycle of hate needs to end, in fact it must,” the group’s website reads. “Allies, siblings, we need you now more than ever.”

Supreme Court
Trans activists plan to protest the “cycle of hate” the community receives at a rally on Saturday in front of the Supreme Court in Washington.

TRAN organizers denounced the Nashville shooting in a statement, and denied it was linked to their protest.

“Vengeance means fighting back with vehemence,” the group said in a statement. “We are fighting against false narratives, criminalization and eradication of our existence. It is also a call to our allies to stand up and fight with us to bring down the forces that try to ivied and subjugate us all.”

TRAN organizers stressed any acts of aggression won’t be tolerated at Saturday’s event.

“This protest is about unity, not inciting violence,” the group’s website reads while urging those who plan to attend to nevertheless take precautions.

Twitter has deleted thousands of tweets about the planned protest, including some by conservatives who denounced the demonstration. Activists, in turn, insisted the “Trans Day of Vengeance” protest references a longtime meme rather than inflicting actual punishment.

TRAN’s Virginia chapter, meanwhile, has offered its members a self-defense class by a US Air Force vet and former National Park Service ranger.

Kayla Denker video
Denker in a video posted to her YouTube page prior to being removed Thursday.

Katie Sponsler said the group gave her the opportunity earlier this month – two weeks before Monday’s school shooting – to teach the course to “meet the rising trend of violence against trans folks.”

Sponsler, a Democrat who unsuccessfully ran for Virginia’s House of Delegates in 2021, did not immediately return a message Thursday seeking additional details.

At least 38 transgender people were killed in 2022, according to the Human Rights Campaign. Some 214 people were victimized in anti-transgender hate crimes in 2021, the latest year of statistics available, FBI data shows. In 2020, 252 such attacks were tallied, compared to 186 in 2019.

Audrey Hale
Audrey Hale, 28, legally purchased seven guns, including three used in Monday’s school shooting, prior to killing six people at The Covenant School, Nashville police said Tuesday.
Linkedin/Audrey Hale

Denker, for her part, said critics have misinterpreted the gun-toting clip as threatening to shoot people – personal attacks that’ve “completely exploded” in frequency in the aftermath of the Nashville school shooting, she insisted.

“Some of the tweets about it have directly equated me,” Denker continued Thursday. “Some of them even clearly trying to make people believe that I was the shooter – even though that shooter is dead.”

Denker flatly said she was not going to “shoot anyone,” but vowed to defend herself if attacked.

Audrey Hale
Audrey Hale inside The Covenant School during the shooting in which she killed six people on Monday before being killed by responding cops.

“But that’s literally the only situation I would ever use a firearm – ever,” Denker said. “And I’m not even sure I’ll be doing that anytime soon.”

Denker plans to sell multiple firearms, including the assault rifle in the viral footage, following Monday’s massacre, she said.

“The Nashville shooting has made it clear that anything we do with firearms won’t help,” she said. “No matter what we do, they’ll equate, they’ll paint us as the attacker. Even if someone broke into my home and tried to kill me, if I defended myself, I would be the one villainized.”

Kayla Denker
Denker, seen here in a video posted Thursday, said she plans on selling several firearms in the aftermath of the Nashville school shooting.

Denker said “things are not looking very good for us,” referencing transgender people.

“Please, speak up, anytime you can,” she said. “Don’t be silent during all of this.”

Saturday’s protest follows the Trans Week of Visibility & Action from March 25-31. Organizers claim more than 400 bills have been introduced nationwide attacking trans youth. Chase Strangio, deputy director for transgender justice for the ACLU’s LGBT & HIV Project, launched TWOVA in 2021 with activist and writer Raquel Willis.

“I can’t take anyone seriously who wants to pin this tragedy on transness when there are plenty of other identifiers that connect mass shooters,” Willis tweeted Tuesday. “Even beyond gender and race, let’s talk about mental health; let’s talk about a loss of connection to empathy and humanity.

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