Non-binary advocate ‘scared to walk into the grocery store’ after onslaught of anti-LGBTQ+ hate

Amanda Jetté Knox – author, speaker and self-described ‘non-binary internet mom’ – went viral on Twitter after she revealed 2022 is the “first year” she’s “seriously considered [she] may get killed doing [her] job”, amid a growing wave of anti-LGBTQ+ hate.

The Canadian advocate wrote openly about how threats against queer people have “escalated significantly” as hate crimes against the LGBTQ+ community increase year-on-year. 

She’s built up a huge following online with tweets about trans and non-binary inclusion, supporting the LGBTQ+ community and dispelling misinformation about queer lives.

But they’ve had to “grapple with the reality” that it’s “never been more dangerous in [their] lifetime to speak out against LGBTQ – and specifically trans – hate”.

She now needs security at her speaking events because of real fear about what an anti-trans or anti-LGBTQ+ campaigner might attempt.

Amanda Jetté Knox tells PinkNews there isn’t a “single day” that goes by where she doesn’t hear about “another hospital getting threats” or “another event having to shut down or seriously contemplate shutting down” because of anti-LGBTQ+ hate.

They posted the thread on Twitter because they “felt the need to put a human face on what is happening”.

“It’s one thing to hear that a drag show was shut down, to hear that there was a protest outside of a hospital or that groups have to meet in secret now and can’t advertise that they’re a trans-inclusive group or whatever it might be,” Amanda says. 

“It’s another thing to post a picture of my face and say, ‘Hi, this is my name. This is who I am, and I have four kids and I have had to have talks with my children about how I might go to an event one day and never come home.'”

“That is a terrible conversation to have to have with your children, but also they need to know that because that is the reality that we live in right now.”

Amanda needs security at all their speaking events as well as escorts to and from their vehicle for fear of what might happen – and it’s not just limited to their professional life. 

“Right now, I worry every time I step outside of my vehicle in a parking lot at the grocery store,” Amanda says.

“I’m scared to walk into the grocery store. I have to look all around my vehicle before I ever unlock it.”

Amanda Jetté Knox says she’s not alone, as many LGBTQ+ people and allies are “fearing for their lives” because of a growing right-wing movement “deliberately drawing a line between being trans or supporting trans people and being a danger to children”. 

Online and real-life harassment of queer people has spiked in recent years. This has coincided with a rising tide of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation in the US as well as disinformation about the trans community, identities and healthcare for trans youth

Right-wing pundits have pushed harmful rhetoric implying that LGBTQ+ people and allies are ‘grooming’ children and including slurs such as ‘groomer’, ‘paedophile’ and ‘predator’ in relation to the queer community. 

A report from the Human Rights Campaign and the Center for Countering Digital Hate found there was a surge in online hate and use of such slurs against the LGBTQ+ community on social media in the weeks following the passage of Florida’s Don’t Say Gay law. 

Amanda explains such narratives paint a “target on peoples’ backs”.

They say that they’ve been “called a danger to children almost every day, often multiple times a day, for doing nothing but having a trans child”, being non-binary and for “spreading real information” about the community.

“They’re not seeing the damage that’s causing because if somebody really thinks that I’m a danger to children, they might try to take me out,” Amanda says.

“That is the reality, and that is that is really frightening and needs to be addressed.”

But Amanda, who “dealt with so much bullying” growing up, has reclaimed her power in the fight against anti-LGBTQ+ hate.

She says it’s a “healing thing” for her to clap back with ‘your mom’ jokes or turn some of the comments into actual mugs that she can drink coffee from

“At this point, I don’t let anyone take my power anymore – it just doesn’t happen,”

“I might feel a little beaten down, but I will get back up and I want to model that for other people.”

They explain that people don’t have to “give so much power to trolls and hateful people online”. Amanda provides some “humour” and insight to others about the hate people face online. 

She adds it may give “some power to somebody else” to speak out against lies about the community, report online hate, come to LGBTQ+ rallies and vote in local elections to put people in places of power to bring forward change.