Conservatives have been bristling for several days with the possibility that Robert Lewis Dear, the alleged Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood shooter, may be transgender because his voter registration identified him as female. Even Ted Cruz floated the idea at a campaign stop on Sunday. On Monday, the El Paso County Clerk and Recorder’s Office confirmed there had been a clerical error.
Ryan Parsell, El Paso County’s chief deputy clerk and recorder, told the Colorado Springs Gazette that his office was responsible for the mistake, calling it a data entry error. When he received a driver’s license with the same error, Dear went to a different Department of Motor Vehicles office to request a corrected license, which he received.
Dear also apparently attempted to fix his voter registration form, which required submitting a “Change in Voter Registration Information” form to the Park County Clerk and Recorder’s Office. His registration was not adjusted, however, because the dot in the “male” box — “a small dark spot” — was so faint that a deputy clerk concluded it was not an intentional mark:
CREDIT: Park County Clerk and Recorder’s Office via Colorado Springs Gazette
Cruz’s campaign suggested Monday that his comment was simply a reference to how little information was available about Dear at the time. That doesn’t change the fact that many conservatives used the rumor to further demonize transgender people as threats to public safety. The now storied history of Dear’s attempts to sort out his identification documents is perhaps the least interesting information available in terms of understanding what may have motivated him to commit this terrible crime.