Content Warning: This article discusses the killing of Brianna Ghey, a young trans girl.
A 16 year old girl was murdered last weekend in Warrington Park, Cheshire. The investigation is on-going, but police have arrested two teenagers as the primary suspects. A brilliant young trans girl has lost her life to hate.
Reports and claims by her friends, as well as Brianna Ghey herself state that she was bullied and subject to transphobia at her school. A parent of one of Brianna’s friends is quoted in The Independent:
She said she was devastated by the constant abuse and even talked of ending it all. It was down to her being trans. It is disgusting what happened.
Speaking to The Mirror, one of her friends described how she was “gang beaten” and subject to transphobic bullying for years, while those in a position to stop the bullying “refused to intervene”.
Tributes to Brianna Ghey
People who knew her left flowers and other tributes at the entrance of the cordoned off area of Culcheth Linear Park. Her family and friends described Brianna Ghey as ‘beautiful, witty and hilarious’, while her gymnastics coach said she was a ‘lovely kid’. Many TikTok users and followers of Brianna paid tribute to her on her account. She was an influencer with over 31,000 followers.
‘Brianna was a much loved daughter, granddaughter, and baby sister. She was a larger than life character who would leave a lasting impression on all that met her. Brianna was beautiful, witty and hilarious. Brianna was strong, fearless and one of a kind’, her parents said in their statement. Their daughter’s death left a ‘massive hole’ in their family. It is hard to fathom the enormity of the tragedy of losing a promising life so near its start.
Victoria and Jacob Potter started a GoFundMe page to help Brianna’s family cover the cost of her funeral. They have raised over £91,000 at time of publication, massively surpassing the £4,216 goal. We encourage readers to make a contribution.
A Young Girl Failed by a Society Permissive of Hatred
Brianna was failed by a society that has allowed hate to flourish nearly unchecked, and a culture of transphobia has been allowed to establish itself root and branch. Anti-trans hate does not take place only on the social channels of celebrities and politicians, but also within classrooms and workplaces and public spaces. Each feeds the other.
Bullying and violence towards Brianna was allowed to go unchecked, a failing on the part of those with the ability to intervene, leading to the most dire consequences.
Meanwhile, due to the failures of the system by which Gender Recognition Certificates are accessible, Brianna will be registered in death as something she wasn’t: a boy. The lack of respect for the person she was, even after death, is condemnable.
The media reaction to her death has meanwhile been revolting.
The Daily Mail and other publications, on discovering that she was trans, went to great lengths to find out her deadname and use it in their news coverage. Articles in The Times deadnamed Brianna and altered her gender inappropriately. Both The Times and the Daily Mail have now updated their articles without misgendering her or including her deadname. The Trans Safety Network drew attention to the edits, rightfully condemning a paper that purports to be the publication of record.
That the UK media sees even the death of a young girl an opportunity to engage in the very transphobia that has led to her death is obscene.
Transphobia is deadly, yet the UK currently has a government and media environment that is fanatical in spreading anti-trans hate in the name of the ‘culture wars’. Not even the murder of a child appears to be hindering the acceptability of such hate in much of the UK.
Trans people should not be exploited and targeted by the media, and they are not punching bag for a government and ideology that has failed and is now on borrowed time.
They should be afforded the same respect, dignity and safety as their cis peers. Instead trans people, and trans youths most of all, are abused and marginalised by their own society. A society that allows tragedies such as this must change.
Trans Children and Youths Need More Protection
Being trans in a predominantly cis school comes with many difficulties. According to friends and the victim herself, Brianna Ghey endured sustained bullying and transphobia. The school has refused to comment on the allegations.
This is where education is vital. Young children should be taught about LGBTQ+ issues, in particular about trans identities. This would widen their understanding of what it means to be trans, whether they identify as such or not.
Just as importantly, people need to be held accountable for engaging in anti-trans hate. These behaviours are modelled to children and young adults, with dire consequences for LGBTQ+ youths. Whether the perpetrator is the Prime Minister, a Member of the UK or Scottish Parliament, a media personality, an influencer, or a school teacher, such hatred must not be considered acceptable within society.
Trans youths are currently subject to something untenable, that the very act of being themselves is necessarily courageous. Young people should not have to live under such insecurity. It is up to adults and those with the power to change things to see through that change.
GenderGP sends their condolences to those in Brianna’s life, most particularly her family. They are enduring an unimaginable pain. We encourage readers to respect their request for peace and privacy so that they may grieve their loved one.
For those who want to show their love and support to the family, community, and to honour Brianna’s memory, vigils are taking place across the UK. TAUK are sharing locations and times of vigils on their Twitter.