Gender identity of suspect in Club Q shooting scrambles narrative

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Nov. 26 - When a court filing filed Tuesday revealed that the person arrested in connection with the killing of five people at Club Q identified as non-binary and used "they/they" pronouns, the Public the first indication that the suspect has been identified as a member of the LGBTQI+ community, which is disrupting the prevailing narrative surrounding the attack.
It also raised the question: If the suspect is non-binary, why would an LGBTQI+ person attack their own persona?
The 22-year-old suspect faces 10 preliminary charges, including five felony counts of biased assault involving assault, according to court records. Authorities have declined to characterize possible motives beyond the mere arrest allegations linked to the shooting, which they stressed are subject to change. The suspect's defense filings, released to the public Tuesday night, address the defendant as "Mx. Aldrich," a title used by some self-identifying nonbinary people. Nonbinary describes a person who does not identify exclusively as male or female.
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The narrative already appears to have shifted to include speculation that the suspect may be motivated by self-loathing given his LGBTQI+ identity.
Immediately after the shooting, the dominant narrative was that an environment of hateful rhetoric towards LGBTQI+ people may have fueled the attack. Rep. Brianna Titone, an Arvada Democrat and the first openly transgender legislator in Colorado, made the point during an appearance on MSNBC.
"In recent years we have seen an increase in the number of anti-LGBT and anti-transgender bills coming out of states across the country," Titone said.
For a licensed counselor in Denver, the answer to why a non-binary person would attack the LGBTQI+ community is sadly simple:
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"Hate breeds self-hate," Kim Stromgren said.
Stromgren said intolerance contributes to internalized homophobia and transphobia, which she says can breed violence when self-hatred manifests as hatred of others.
Noting the details that emerged about the suspect's life, Stromgren speculated that gender identity wasn't as important as her apparently troubled childhood.
Reports show the suspect's upbringing was shaped by a biological delinquent father who was involved in drugs and worked in the porn industry, and a mother with multiple arrests in California and Texas. The two parents separated when the suspect was a toddler.
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“We know her father taught Sagittarius to fight as a child and then disappeared from her life entirely. We know he was also quite abusive to the mother in terms of domestic violence," Stromgren said. "Gender doesn't matter. The fact is, this person was taught violence to live their life.”
Stromgren added: "And I guarantee you they have tremendous anger about this. Part of that is probably self-loathing for who they are in the world. And that, unfortunately, is a big comment on our culture.”
The human rights campaign said non-binary people could identify as both male and female, as somewhere in between, or as completely outside of those categories. The group said while many also identify as transgender, not all non-binary people do, and non-binary can also be used as an umbrella term encompassing identities such as agender, bigender, genderqueer, or gender-fluid.
It is not yet clear when Anderson Lee Aldrich first identified as nonbinary. When Aldrich changed his name in San Antonio in 2016, a Bexar County court filing signed by Aldrich's grandmother and step-grandfather used masculine pronouns for Aldrich. The suspect's mother, Laura Voepel, posted to a Facebook group in February asking for help finding a therapist for Aldrich, using masculine pronouns to refer to her child.
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Stromgren's primary concern is public response to information about Aldrich's gender identity, not how the suspect identifies himself, she said.
Jeff Mack of the MatthewShepard Foundation also mentioned the suspect's gender identity and said it was interesting that both the victims and the alleged perpetrator were LGBTQI+. He pointed out that the foundation trains law enforcement agencies in responding to hate crimes.
"That's going to be very interesting to follow," Mack said.

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