Kayla Denker

0:00 / 1:44:06
April 20, 2023

Kayla Denker is a military veteran and a trained archaeologist who has worked in the private sector and for the US Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management. She is also a trans woman living in America, and every day she navigates the difficult and increasingly dangerous terrain of living her life as an out trans person—estrangement from unaccepting family, hostile encounters in public, and a growing right-wing political crusade hellbent on scapegoating LGBTQ+ people as the ultimate evil and the source of society's ills, stripping them of their rights, and outwardly calling for the elimination of trans people from society.

Until recently, Kayla was working for the Forest Service, doing a job she loved. On March 5, however, after conservative commentator Michael Knowles openly proclaimed at the Conservative Political Action Conference on March 4 that "transgenderism must be eradicated from public life entirely," Kayla posted a short video online featuring herself loading an assault rifle she legally owns accompanied by the following text: "While advocating just for trans people to 'arm ourselves' is not any kind of solution to the genocide we are facing, I do want to say that if you transphobes do try to come for me I'm taking a few of you with me." Then, weeks later, on March 27, Aiden Hale, who identified as a transgender man, murdered three children and three adults in a mass school shooting at The Covenant School in Nashville, Tennessee, where Aiden had been a student. In the wake of the Nashville shooting, rightwing and tabloid media outlets and prominent social media accounts began to furiously recirculate Kayla's video, lying about the origins of the video and, instead, painting a fabricated, fear-mongering narrative that connected her and Hale to a supposed network of violent and "militant transgender activists." Immediately, Kayla's life was turned upside down—she has been flooded with death threats and, last week, she was fired from the Forest Service. In this episode, we talk with Kayla about her life and work, the events of the past two months, and the reality of being a trans person in the US today.

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Featured Music (all songs sourced from the Free Music Archive: freemusicarchive.org)

Jules Taylor, "Working People Theme Song