The tragic slaying of students and faculty at the Covenant School by a 28-year-old trans-identifying assailant has led some to pose an uncomfortable question: was testosterone involved?
We already know that gender dysphoria is correlated with, if not caused by, mental distress; Some go as far as to label it a disorder. Others have noted that many of the symptoms of gender dysphoria overlap with those of undiagnosed autism. Compared to the general population, transgender and “gender-diverse” people are disproportionately represented on the autism spectrum. The Covenant shooter was described by an acquaintance as “autistic but high-functioning.”
For female-to-male transitioners, taking a hormonal regimen of testosterone is the first physiological step toward living as the opposite sex, which can then be followed by “gender-affirming” surgery.
It’s unclear if the shooter — who went by “Aiden” and used he/him pronouns — was on hormones. And, we ultimately may never know, requests for the disclosure of her toxicology report notwithstanding. One way or the other, a burning question lingers: can testosterone therapy exacerbate the symptoms of those suffering from gender dysphoria? Can it make them more aggressive, or even violent?
Despite trans activists’ insistence that the hormone is safe, the science is mixed and unclear — and, it usually comes from subjective reporting. In a 2020 meta-analysis of several studies focusing on trans men (biological women), researchers found that four of the seven studies reported a greater incidence of aggression after starting testosterone. One of the seven found a decrease of the same. Because the follow-up period in all studies was less than 12 months, researchers concluded “gender-affirming testosterone therapy could have a short-term impact on aggression-related constructs.”
As The Blaze’s Tyler Cardon highlighted, gender transitioners in the subreddit r/ftm (female to male) described heightened rage and emotional instability after starting testosterone. Some accounts from various posters read:
“[Testosterone] made me an emotional time bomb. I keep exploding at the ones I love and breaking things.”
“I’m 18 now, but when I was younger I had extreme anger issues . . . I knew starting testosterone was going to make it worse, but dear god. It’s atrocious. . . [I] started punching myself in the head multiple times, then grabbed my hair and basically gave myself whiplash before collapsing on the floor and sobbing even harder.”
“I’m much more willing to throw hands, and my panic attacks make me angry instead of despondent. I was super nonconfrontational before, but now I’m totally ready to act threatening and square up if the need arises.”
Since the Nashville shooting, a detransitioner going by Laura recently posted about her experience being prescribed testosterone, despite having polycystic ovarian syndrome, suicidal ideation, and complex PTSD.
“I got into a car accident, got into a verbal fight with a cop, did petty theft only for the thrill of it, and booked an appointment for a double mastectomy which I got only 7 months into having a hormone prescription. Testosterone increased my reckless behaviors and caused interpersonal conflicts which were damaging in the long-term.”
“High testosterone in combination with emotional or psychological dysregulation can be a dangerous combination,” she concludes.
There’s no way testosterone isn’t affecting the emotional states of biological women who take it for gender transition — at least to some degree. But is it enough to spur someone to commit mass murder?
Toxic Masculinity… in Women?
In men, higher testosterone alone doesn’t necessarily lead to increased aggression or violence. It seems more like a predictor for dominance-seeking behavior. And, toward this end, certain men will become violent.
Yet, mass shooters over the past few decades don’t tend to be hyper-aggressive “alphas”. Most are not Eric Harrises or Connor Sturgeons; they tend to be lanky outcasts and alienated loners of the Elliott Rodger variety. Speaking with reporters Park MacDougald, psychologist Francis McAndrew said:
“If you pick [up] a powerful weapon and you perceive that combat is imminent, you get a spike in your testosterone levels,” McAndrew says. Given that marginal males tend to have low testosterone, which can lead to feelings of anxiety and depression, this spike can be euphoric, as shooters like [Eric] Harris and [Elliot] Rodger attest.”
But higher levels of testosterone in women may be a different story. One community-focused study conducted on 257 inner city young adults aged 21-23 found a “significant positive correlation” between testosterone levels in women, but surprisingly, not in men. Another study, which examined 87 girls aged 15-17, determined that those with conduct disorders showed higher levels of testosterone.
No matter how we cut it, the science is hazy, especially when it comes to the use of cross-sex hormones for gender transition. But if there’s even a chance testosterone use can exacerbate the already-intense negative emotions in those suffering from dysphoria, it’s worth investigating further. After all, trans people already come into clinics’ doors with ailing mental health— and, rather than performing thorough patient analyses, most providers are content to just hand out hormones.
As recently documented by whistleblower Jamie Reed, a startling number of doctors and therapists, in compliance with World Professional Association for Transgender Health’s (WPATH) guidelines, liberally prescribe hormones with little regard for the mental state of the patient or the potential side effects they may cause.
Well-known detransitioner Helena Kirschner previously described the ease with which she was able to obtain testosterone from Planned Parenthood. In a 2022 blog post, she wrote that the entire process took 20 minutes, with the social worker allegedly waiving their standard policy of performing blood work before prescribing the hormone. She received her prescription the same day.
“While I was on testosterone, the anger demanded to be externalized. I felt like my body would explode if I couldn’t hit or throw something, and this scared me,” she wrote.
Her use of testosterone quickly worsened her emotional state to the point where she was admitted to the psychiatric ward.
If a person who claims to be dysphoric can’t find a clinic nearby, online services like Plume can remotely prescribe hormones to be picked up at a local pharmacy. Some states have banned these virtual gender clinics, but it’s not stopping some trans activists from apparently skirting the law to ensure not a “single young person go without medication.”
‘Vengeance’ & ‘Genocide’
Perhaps the most concerning thing about this heedless, experimental treatment is the vehemence with which trans activists will declare it harmless, safe, or “life-saving.” Even if the Covenant killer is discovered to have been using testosterone, it’s not likely they will let up in their push to medicate any gender non-conforming young person on TikTok. No, the activists are too busy thinking about how the shooting will affect themselves for that kind of self-reflection to happen.
How hormones, and the dysregulation of the same, affect individuals without these issues is not even fully understood. The mechanics behind the widespread decline of testosterone in men, as well as the potential negative effects of something as widespread as hormonal birth control, remain murky. To think that we can safely administer synthetic hormones in a cross-sex direction to patients with poor mental health, relying on research mainly conducted in just the last decade, is arguably a modern folly beyond comprehension.
If the shooter wasn’t on testosterone, there are thousands of other gender dysphoric people who are. And when the rhetoric of trans activism constantly emphasizes an ongoing perceived “genocide,” and the resulting need for “vengeance,” one wonders what kind of escalation is next in this increasingly volatile front of the culture war.