Brianna Ghey murder one year on: Never again – fight for trans liberation

By Ollie Bell 

It has been one year since the tragic murder of Brianna Ghey, a 16-year-old trans girl who was killed in Cheshire, England, by two teenagers. Various candlelit vigils were held to mourn across the UK and in Dublin, Ireland in the week after her death. The taking of this young girl’s life sent shockwaves throughout the trans community worldwide. 

Both the media and the Cheshire Police were quick to rule out the murder as a hate crime. It is no surprise to anyone that rampant transphobia provided the perfect breeding ground to radicalise the two teenagers responsible for her death. The fact she also faced years of transphobic bullying and harassment cannot be separated from the circumstances of her death. The ruling out of this as a hate crime was also blown out of the water after the judge ruled that transphobia was a motive. 

Transphobic media coverage 

After her death, the British media were rightfully criticised for their coverage of her death. The Times, for example, removed references to her being a girl and reported her deadname once they found out she was trans. They only removed her deadname after facing backlash; showing that even in death, trans people are dehumanised, and their gender is not recognised as legitimate. 

But more broadly, the British media can’t wash their hands clean from the part they played in Brianna Ghey’s death. Transphobia is rife in the UK’s press. The Telegraph, for example, ran 75 articles about trans people in January 2023, with 73 being negative. The Daily Mail published 115 articles on trans people, with 100 being negative. Many articles inflated the supposed risks of trans young people accessing gender-affirming care. 

This has occurred alongside the smearing of the LGBTQ+ community as groomers and paedophiles, the worst of which has come from the far right in the United States. It is clear that the current moral panic is being artificially created to stoke hatred towards the LGBTQ+ community, with the final goal being nothing less than their eradication. This is often done under the guise of protecting women and children, though it’s clear this protection doesn’t extend to children like Brianna Ghey. 

Sunak’s disgusting joke 

Not only are the media to blame for the transphobic landscape Brianna Ghey was living in prior to her death, but so too is the Tory government which is pandering to the far right by restricting trans rights. From the UK Parliament blocking Scotland’s Gender Recognition Act to the Department of Education’s draft guidelines for ‘gender-questioning children’, which advises teachers to take a ‘cautious approach’ when it comes to social transition. Just days after the sentencing of Brianna Ghey, Rishi Sunak made a transphobic ‘joke’ while Esther Ghey (Brianna Ghey’s mother) was in attendance at the House of Commons. 

Rather than realising the damage transphobic media and policies have on trans youth, especially in the aftermath of Brianna Ghey’s murder, the UK government is instead doubling down on its vile transphobia and making life harder for the trans community. 

Although her killers have been named and sentenced to life, we must look at what real justice for Brianna Ghey means. We can’t let the inherently transphobic system off the hook for purposely spreading misinformation about trans people and the wider LGBTQ+ community. Transphobia won’t disappear overnight but that doesn’t mean we can’t fight it. Real justice for all victims of transphobic violence means a collective struggle against the capitalist system. Trans healthcare based on bodily autonomy, an end to all forms of transphobia and full trans liberation cannot be won by pandering to conservative or liberal capitalist parties but by a mass struggle from below for a socialist alternative! 

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