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  • Alessandra Messeri

The Legacy of Brianna Ghey

A young girl, glasses, ginger hair, and a smile on her face, eating a chocolate bar. Brianna Ghey’s photograph circled UK newspapers and magazines for all the wrong reasons. Brianna was a sixteen year-old girl from Birchwood, Cheshire, England who was murdered on 11th February 2023. She was found by the public lying in a park with fatal stab wounds and was pronounced dead at the scene. A boy and a girl, both fifteen years-old, have been charged with the murder and will go on trial in July.

Artwork by Kate Granholm (IG: @Katesartthings).

Brianna’s mourning family described her as a ‘larger than life character’ who was ‘beautiful, witty, and hilarious’. She deserved to live into adulthood and lead a peaceful, fulfilling life. Brianna will never see her dreams, goals and ambitions come into fruition. Brianna will never again share a meal, a laugh, or a hug with her loved ones. Brianna was just a girl with her whole life ahead of her. Her death is a tragedy.

As any human being, Brianna was a three-dimensional person with a complex, multi-faceted personality. As any human being, she would have had her likes, dislikes, qualities and faults. Brianna happened to be transgender. Too many consider this characteristic the largest, defining aspect of a trans person’s life, and too often this leads to hate.

The intention here is not to reduce Brianna solely to her transness, for she was much more than that. However, Brianna’s friends and family have stated that she suffered cruel bullying and marginalisation by her schoolmates because of her gender identity. One of her peers stated that Brianna had even spoken about ‘ending it all’. It is highly likely, if not a certainty, that Brianna’s murder was fuelled by transphobic hate.

The 2010 equality act protects trans people’s rights to access single-sex spaces according to their gender identity rather than the one they were assigned at birth. However, trans people are far from being adequately protected in this country. In January, for instance, the UK government blocked Scotland’s gender reform bill which lowered the age trans people can apply to legally change their gender to from 18 to 16. This was the first time since the devolution that Westminster intervened in such a manner in Scottish law, demonstrating the lengths the government will go to obstruct trans rights.

Transgender people also experience difficulties accessing the healthcare they need to live their lives authentically. While not all transgender people desire to go through hormone therapies and/or gender-confirming surgeries, those who do have to endure extremely long waiting lists to not only get the treatments they need, but even to just to receive referrals and assessment that will allow them to gain access to those procedures. The Chalmers Gender Identity clinic in Edinburgh is currently contacting people who were referred in September 2020, meaning that the wait-list is over two-years long. Additionally, many transgender people face marginalisation in the healthcare environment as a whole, with 70% reporting that they have endured transphobic discrimination from their provider.

Systemic transphobia is embedded not only in the political, legal and medical sphere, but also within the population’s psyche. Transgender people are the most targeted group in the LGBTQ+ community, with two in five (41%) trans people being victims of hate crime attacks within a 12-month period. But this may not be an accurate statistic, as 88% of transgender victims do not report hate crimes due to dissatisfaction with police response and frequency of abuse. 64% of trans pupils in UK schools experience relentless bullying. A quarter of trans people experience homelessness in their lifetime. More than four in five young trans people have self-harmed, while two in five have attempted to take their own life. And this is just the start.

Due to UK law impeding individuals under the age of 18 to legally change their gender to the one they desire, Brianna’s death certificate will likely refer to her by her deadname and use he/him pronouns. Even in death, Brianna will not get treated with the respect and dignity that she deserves. Her murder is a hate crime. Brianna deserved better. Transgender individuals deserve to live in a world where they are protected and valued to the same standards as cisgender people. Thoughts and prayers are not enough. Writing this article is not enough. As vigils are organised across the UK, we must remember that Brianna’s murder was not just committed by two perpetrators; It was the product of a transphobic society that systematically oppresses, marginalises and attacks transgender people for the sole fact that they want to be themselves.

Say her name. Rest in power, Brianna Ghey.

Donate to Brianna Ghey’s family here:

Transgender and non-binary helpline:

Mindline trans + – Emotional and mental health support helpline for anyone identifying as trans, non-binary, gender variant, and their families, friends, colleagues and carers. Their phone line is open Mondays and Fridays, 8pm to midnight. Ring 0300 330 5468.

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