"Transgender rights" activists and the LGBTQ-allied mainstream media are mourning the horrific death of a crossdressing Alabama mayor who committed suicide with a handgun after a conservative news site "involuntarily outed" the transsexual politician.
Fred L. "Bubba" Copeland, the Republican mayor of small-town Smiths Station, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound during a welfare check that reportedly turned into a slow-chase police pursuit. Copeland killed himself on November 3, two days after the publication of an exposé by 1819 News, the brainchild of right-wing think tank Alabama Policy Institute, that unmasked the middle-aged mayor's double life he secretly lived as a closeted "transgender curvy girl" in the midst of "transitioning."
By day, Copeland was a family man, the head of city government, an entrepreneur, and a Southern Baptist preacher.
But, for years, under the trans alter-ego "Brittini Blaire Summerlin," the bald 49-year-old crossdresser donned a blonde wig and operated a series of accounts across social media where he reveled in his "transadorable" persona, 1819 News discovered.
In the wake of Copeland taking his own life, a sea of eulogies flooded in from the sympathetic press. The Daily Beast described 1819 News' deep-dive as an "inhumane" outing. The far-left Salon.com said Copeland's shooting death was "the latest in a list of lives destroyed by the GOP's anti-LGBTQ campaign," as part of "intra-party purg[ing]" of political "traitors" and "purifying" America. Reaching the Northeast, the Boston Globe called Copeland's demise "the toll of anti-trans hate" in the Deep South: "He did not deserve to be publicly mocked, his very personal journey weaponized against him by a right-wing hate machine..."
Local leadership like Lee County Democratic Party Chairperson Jamie Lowe denounced it as "demonizing" as well as "discriminatory and hateful rhetoric." Likewise, "so saddened" by his friend's passing, former U.S. Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL) said 1819 News is the "perfect example" of "the self-righteous tend[ing] to throw the largest stones" in "a mean, bitter world."
"Are you happy now?" fumed former Phenix City School Superintendent Larry DiChiara. "What crime did he commit?"
However, there's much more to the story than what is being woefully told. According to Copeland's digital footprint, he harbored a predatory nature steeped in envy, 1819 News uncovered. His thirst for the opposite sex, a sexual "infatuation," manifested in stalking, preying upon the lives of those who populated his tiny town, and obsessive odes to the bodies of women he so desired.
Aside from wearing plus-sized women's clothes and undergarments, the mayor authored violent erotica fantasizing about murdering a female constituent—a real-life resident living in Copeland's community—and assuming the victim's identity.
The erotic fiction fixates on a local businesswoman whose likeness, livelihood, and life Copeland coveted. "I wanted her life!" reads the synopsis of Copeland's murderous 11-chapter saga. "[N]othing can stop me from turning myself into her carbon copy."
"Dangerous Obsession," an R-rated story written by Copeland in a first-person narrative, names the Smiths Station local that the narrator stalks and where she works, a beauty salon that's a short drive from Copeland's mayoral office headquartered at City Hall. "Like always," the narrator says, he'd ride by the boutique to catch a glimpse of the beautician through the window.
(For the sake of the woman's privacy, 1819 News redacted a copy of Copeland's story, censoring any identifying information. The woman, who was close to the Copeland family, was distraught when informed of the story's existence and being its subject.)
The story narrates how Copeland's character breaks into the woman's shop in a late-night heist to install spyware on the business owner's digital devices in order to track her location via GPS at all times; hack into her video feed; and hijack her day-to-day habits, so that he can appropriate her look and "socialite" lifestyle. "She was the perfection of a southern belle," his "muse."
"She was everything I wish I could be! [...] To say I was a stalker would be a bit of an understatement. Every post she made I studied it, analyzing and taking notes of her daily routine..." Copeland wrote, noting: "Her life had become my obsession."
The stalking eventually escalates to premeditated murder aboard a cruise ship.
"I have spent everything I have and every waking moment to become you," he tells her. Copeland's fictitious murderer hurls her over the boat's railing to her death, simultaneously snatching the woman's wedding ring, "one last piece of her" that he sought.
"This life is all I have ever wanted, and finally, it was all mine!" Copeland typed triumphantly.
Disguised as the murder victim, the male protagonist has sex with her unsuspecting husband, whom he calls "our[s]."
To masquerade as the murdered woman, the man pumps himself full of female hormones and undergoes an experimental surgical procedure to reduce his height to the woman's 4'11" stature, which involves removing parts of the patient's femur and severing the spinal vertebrae. An artificial vagina is also constructed, among an array of bodily mutilations.
"Holding a mirror between my legs as tears rolled down my face[,] I looked at my new man-made vagina," Copeland wrote.
This wasn't the only Smiths Station-area inhabitant Copeland co-opted imagery of for his own gratification. Foisting his gender-transitioning fixation on children, Copeland's transsexual desires were extended to minors local to the area, inserting kids he knew into his delusions. On Reddit and elsewhere, Copeland oft-posted fictional before-and-after illustrations featuring young boys and girls with the impression that the "transgender" youth in the depictions were one individual pre- and post-transition.
"Transition! Its [sic] so worth it!" reads Copeland's text on a graphic he designed showing a set of siblings, a young brother and sister, whom he pretended was a trans child: a biological boy who had transitioned into a girl. "Take the shots. Get implants. Become the wh*re," Copeland captioned the images he had stolen from the social media of the two children's father.
One woman, who knew Copeland from when she was young and living in town but had not seen him in years, contacted 1819 News after discovering her Facebook pictures posted on a porn website. "[S]omeone came across one of his sites that he posts on, and he's posted photos of myself! Now my photos (from Facebook) are on all of these nude/porn sites," she told 1819 News.
Florida-dwelling hairstylist Ansley Summerlin, presumably the former Alabamian whom Copeland paraded as a "TrophyWife" of "Hotlanta" on porn pages, spoke out to NBC News about being used—both in name and imagery—in Copeland's fantasy world.
"I will say this has caused me a lot of anxiety and panic attacks," said Summerlin, whose surname Copeland adopted for his trans personality. "There's just so many emotions that come with this. After reading those stories, with the names of girls I know, it's all very disturbing."
She also told her story on WTVM's broadcast. "He proceeded to use my first and middle name on these sites, and I believe there are about nine sites now that I have about five or six photos of my face and my name across the Internet," Summerlin said.
An employee of a hair salon in Smiths Station did not want to be identified, but said her full name, too, was used without her knowledge in Copeland's writings. "It said my first and last name, and it was basically describing the way that I look, and then, intensified, I guess, as a porn star, and it went into very graphic detail. I didn't get past the first page, because I honestly couldn’t stomach it," the woman said.
Courtney Norrell, another local hairstylist whose maiden name was used in Copeland's fiction without her consent, is publicly speaking out about being victimized by Copeland's perverted postings. "[W]here are the prayers for the victims and THEIR families/children?" Norrell took to Facebook, as an outpour of support surrounds the Copeland family. "My oldest daughter is almost 12 and I only pray she never knows the full details of what was written of her mother's name by a man we all thought so highly of and who we trusted."
Using the "Brittini" pseudonym, Copeland had a handful of musings on FictionMania, an outlet for "fans of transgendered fiction." There, he penned pornographic trans-themed (sometimes slasher) fiction divulging his sexual fantasies in disturbing detail, using category tags and keywords "Castration," "Bizarre Body Modifications," "Chemical or Drug Induced Change," and "Identity Theft."
In one of Copeland's XXX-rated short stories, a tale entitled "Brooke just like Taylor," the narrator works as a manager of a grocery and records in-store surveillance footage of a plus-sized woman he was spying on, saving the CCTV videos of his "object of lust" to a "private collection." Paralleling his real life, the mayor actually owned the nearby Country Market convenience store in Salem. By the story's conclusion, Copeland's character then transforms into the customer's "identical twin sister" by surgically removing his testicles, popping estrogen pills—estradiol and spironolactone—to shrivel his penis to a "little girly c*ck," getting silicone Size E breast implants, and sawing over six inches off his leg bones to shorten his height, so as to match hers.
Similarly, in "The Recruit," Copeland's long-form twisted smut details how the protagonist mutilates his body to "make it as the next big thing" in the "she-male" porn industry. "Deeper, deeper!! Hit it, daddy, harder, ohhh yes! Yes! [...] Being f*cked from behind like a dog [...] it's my job [...] to be a sexy hot receptacle for men," Copeland wrote. Copeland's obscene story progresses to the point of the transsexual protagonist being "broken in" by a group of gang-banging black men who make him their "b*tch" and "c*mdump."
In the three-part story "Becoming Christine," which is centered on yet another heavy-set woman Copeland's character goes to great lengths to impersonate, the narrator orgasms at the thought of himself as a female. "Why did I orgasm[?] I came because I was HER, totally HER," Copeland wrote of "Christine."
To mimic period blood, Copeland's character soaks tampons in a mixture of red food-coloring, water, and corn starch, but he "needed a place to put it." And so, the protagonist procures a V-string latex vagina, "an excellent device" he's "a huge fan" of.
Copeland, who took sexual pleasure in presenting himself as a woman, appeared to have autogynephilia, a paraphilia that is theorized to underlie transvestism and forms of transsexualism. Translating from Greek to "love of oneself as a woman," autogynephilia is defined as a man's sexual arousal by the thought of possessing a woman's body, thus motivating "transition." The fetish is embraced as a sexual identity under the LGBTQ umbrella, rather than addressed as a psychological disorder.
Copeland dreamt of being a BBW ("big beautiful woman"), frequenting BBW-focused Reddit discussions. He fetishized overweight women as "these beautiful creatures" with "their cellulite-covered legs quivering as they move." That's what got his "engine running." Specifically, the fetishist worshipped "bimbos." According to Copeland's online ramblings, he longed to be a "blonde, big, boobed bimbo." The trans-identifying mayor desired to be degraded, objectified, and "bimbo-fied" through the "bimbo-fication" process, which he outlined in a step-by-step "Sissy Bimbo Checklist." Copeland instructed: "1. Start hormones 2. Grow long hair 3. Go blond 4. Get huge implants 5. F**k and suck c**ks all day 'n' night 6. Be a c*m bunny. Welcome to ecstasy wh*re." Copeland portrayed being "sissified" as "sexual punishment" as well as an avenue to access the men he craved.
Copeland regularly uploaded pictures on Reddit, including bedroom boudoir-style photography of himself half-naked posing in women's lingerie. The mayor slipped into a pink push-up bra for the kinky r/bbwfemboys subreddit and lace underwear for the r/Safe4Trans forum, a lewd Reddit page attracting transgender masturbators and voyeurs alike. Accordingly, Copeland posted transgender pornography in the r/sissycaptions and r/b*tchsissies Reddit groups for "submissive feminine sluts."
"Where do I sign!!!" Copeland captioned an explicit graphic that read: "A contract that would make me look like this in exchange for becoming a personal sex slave wh*re." Reacting to another, Copeland declared "No more boy!" on a photograph, reading: "You feel that? That's him f*cking that last bit of masculinity out of you."
"How far are you willing to go?" Copeland attached the question to a collage of trans-porno star Sienna Grace in various stages of "transition" before he underwent "bottom-surgery", captioned: "Born a boy? Tired of being one? That's OK. You can change. Hormones + Implants = Permanent Feminization. You know your manhood is a small price to pay for happiness."
At first, in a conversation with 1819 News prior to publishing, Copeland denied he had any knowledge of the accounts. But, upon being shown the digital evidence, Copeland quickly confessed to managing the profiles and confirmed he is "Brittini," arguing that transvestism has purely been a therapeutic pastime for him since youth, providing a release from anxiety as a means of "getting rid of stress." The postings were a harmless "hobby" of his and a "fantasy" he indulged in while the written works were "purely fiction," Copeland asserted. Copeland called it "cosplay" akin to imaginative "dress-up," not an identity he was trying to realize.
Copeland emphatically maintained that he did not feel like a woman and has not undertaken a medical transition, though as "Brittini," he touted being a MtF ("male-to-female") transitioner on at least a year of Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT), having undergone facial feminization surgery, and using laser hair removal to achieve a bare, beardless face. Copeland celebrated "living authentically" with "us girls" as "a part of" International Women's Day.
In addition to lengthy phone calls with the outlet, involving the back-and-forth denial then admission, Copeland also sent a frenzy of "desperate" text messages to 1819 News staff, pleading that the piece not be published.
Post-interview, Copeland scrambled to delete the "Brittini" accounts and asked 1819 News that his online exploits not be publicized, citing his family and position as senior pastor preaching at the evangelical First Baptist Church in neighboring Phenix City. Copeland said that only his wife, whose closet he raided, was aware of his activity, but no one else in the community knew.
"Just my wife knows about it..." Copeland told 1819 News. "It's just a bit of a character I'm playing […] I don't go out and seek solicitation or anything like that." Reiterating it's all make-belief, Copeland continued: "It's something that I don’t intermingle with the other. It's private. I don't do it in the public or anything like that […] It's just a fictional character I made up to relieve stress."
He declined to offer further explanations to the citizens of Smiths Station or his church parishioners, believing his extracurriculars were "not relevant" and relegated to the privacy of his home. "I have not done anything outside of my own home besides post or publish anything on the Internet, and that does not affect anything [within] my jurisdiction," Copeland countered. "What I do in private life has nothing to do with what I do in my holy life. Does this have any effect on me being mayor, that I sometimes put on a dress or sometimes put on makeup? Does that have anything to do whatsoever with me being mayor or being a pastor?"
At a live-streamed Nov. 1 prayer service, Copeland addressed the 1819 News article as he performed his pastoral duties.
"I have been an object of an Internet attack [...] The article is not who or what I am. Yes, I have taken pictures with my wife in the privacy of our home in an attempt of humor, because I know I'm not a handsome man nor a beautiful woman either. I apologize for any embarrassment caused by my private, personal life that has come publicly," Copeland said, speaking to the congregation from the pulpit, adding assertively: "I have nothing to be ashamed of. A lot of things that were said were taken out of context."
"In conclusion, I love my family; they're number one. And again, I'm sorry for what my actions have caused," Copeland concluded. Pivoting, Copeland delivered a sermonette, reciting Psalm 23:1–6, "The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want."
The twice-elected mayor had hoped to serve an additional term.
Copeland, a father of three children, has left behind a teenage son and two young daughters.
Reddit communities r/TransLater and r/PlusSizeFashion, both of which "Brittini" was an active member, spotlighted the now-deceased mayor in a pair of memorial posts. "She wasn't hurting anyone and they humiliated her," a Redditor belonging to the body-affirming subreddit defended Copeland in the comments section. The remembrance post highlighted a picture of Copeland wearing his wife's animal-print sweater, which he's worn repeatedly while blowing kisses to the camera.
"In Memoriam," transgender Redditors wrote on a tribute wall posted to the r/TransLater subreddit commemorating Copeland.
Copeland's name will be "add[ed] to TDoR," a trans Reddit user remarked, referring to the upcoming Transgender Day of Remembrance on Nov. 20, which honors lives lost "in acts of targeted, transphobic violence." Another accused 1819 News reporter Craig Monger, the article's author, of "murdering" Copeland.
Speaking with Breitbart, 1819 News editor-in-chief Jeff Poor rejected the established narrative that his publication bears responsibility for Copeland's death. "Those who think that this guy was just sitting on this couch upset about a website bullying him and decided to end his life, they reside in the shallow end of the kiddie pool," responded Poor.
"The story came to us," Poor explained, and the editorial team decided it was in the public interest to expose Copeland, a public figure in positions of trust within the Smiths Station community. Poor said that 1819 News was planning on running additional pieces on Copeland and that Copeland was privy to the forthcoming revelations about to surface. Now, they've "yet to determine" if more is to come. "From the sake of the tragedy, we're gonna be very cautious proceeding," Poor stated.
A follow-up 1819 News op-ed defended Monger's "responsible journalism in exposing Copeland and the destruction he chose to leave in his wake," condemning the mayor for purporting to be a "man of God" as he lived a life antithetical to what he preached to the masses. "Copeland's choices brought harm to the people he was supposed to protect," the 1819 News contributor wrote.
Others on the platform X, formerly Twitter, said Monger should be charged with manslaughter for running the "hit piece" despite Copeland's objections "knowing this would be the result," given the suicide rate amongst gender-dysphoric individuals. "1819 News loaded the gun, put it in his mouth, and pulled the trigger..." the pile-on persisted. "1819 News killed a man in cold blood."
In a mid-March interview with WRBL foreshadowing his fate, Copeland commented on the issue of suicide in his city.
"I always say, 'We're Mayberry 2023.' It really is like everybody knows your name. You know, everybody dies famous in a small town," Copeland said of Smiths Station. "That's what it is. It is Friday Night Lights. It is Mama's apple pie. Our community is very, very low crime, very low drug abuse. Our number one problem is suicide. It is sad [...] I think some of it has to do with social media and the reality of that. That's the number one problem we have."
According to the Lee County Sheriff's Office, a call for a wellness check led to Copeland's suicide. After the agency received the check-up request, sheriff's deputies pursued Copeland by car "at [a] low speed" with emergency lights flashing, attempting to stop him on a country road in close proximity to his grocery store. That's when Copeland pulled over, exited the vehicle, produced a handgun, and shot himself.
The investigation into Copeland's death remains ongoing. As the Copeland case is active, Lee County Sheriff Jay Jones said that evidence gathered by law enforcement will be presented to the district attorney and that all facts available will be laid before a grand jury for review at a future date. "We had no idea Copeland would die on the spot," Jones reflected.
Beforehand, Copeland had reached out to Jones in anguish over the story airing his dirty laundry. "It was a friend calling a friend," Jones told NBC News. "Let's just say he was concerned about the article. I think 'upset' would be a good way of putting it."