Lack of Recognition of Transphobic Hate Crimes in the Media: The Tragic Death of Brianna Ghey

Joseph Clayton

On 11th February 2023, Brianna Ghey, a 16-year-old transgender girl was found dead by passers-by in a park near Warrington, Cheshire. Two teenagers have been charged, and are set to go on trial in association with her death later this year. Joseph Clayton discusses the aftermath of the tragedy – its limited recognition as a hate crime and how the media has responded to it.

Brianna was found wounded with fatal stab wounds on a path by members of the public at around 3pm in Culcheth Linear Park in Warrington. Two 15-year-olds have been arrested and charged with her murder, appearing via video call at Liverpool Crown Court on 15th February. They have been refused bail and placed in youth detention. The two teenagers are set to go on trial on 10th July 2023.

“Say her name, Brianna Ghey”

The death of Brianna Ghey has led to an outpouring of anger and sadness across the UK, with the transgender community and allies organising over 30 vigils around the country to remember the teenager and to mourn her loss. Hundreds have gathered in London, Belfast, Lancaster, Nottingham, Bristol, Brighton and many more. Crowds also appeared outside the Department of Education, holding trans flags and chanting, “Trans rights are human rights” and “Say her name, Brianna Ghey”, whilst spraying graffiti on the walls of the building. 

This comes after the large backlash that has arisen in the last several days due to the police failing to acknowledge Brianna Ghey’s murder as a hate crime. The lead investigator, DCS Mike Evans stated that although the police believe that it was a “targeted attack”, there was “no evidence” that Brianna’s gender identity had played a part in her killing. It has led many to question whether the police would be as slow to label the attack as a hate crime if this had happened to a gay person or someone who is an ethnic minority.

The police are failing to recognise the increase in transgender hate crimes in the UK, and are failing to concede that more and more people in the transgender community feel frightened and fearful. This is because the murder of Brianna Ghey is connected to a large rise in transphobic hate crimes in recent years, with increasing numbers of people in the transgender community facing violence and threat.

2 in 5 trans people (41%) have experienced a hate crime

For example, 2,630 hate crimes against transgender people were recorded by the police in 2020/2021; this was an increase of 16% from the previous year. Moreover, in 2018, Stonewall UK found that 2 in 5 trans people (41%) have experienced a hate crime or incident because of their gender identity. This clearly demonstrates the rise in transphobic hate in the UK and suggests that it was highly likely that Brianna was attacked due to her gender identity.

Brianna has also faced transphobia in the media since her death, with many traditionally right-wing publications using Brianna’s deadname (her old male name) and pronouns to describe her, showing large disrespect. 

A GoFundMe Page has been set up to support Brianna Ghey’s family – helping them with funeral costs and more. So far, over £110,948 has been raised for her family, with over 6,900 donors.

And if you would like to support, you can donate at: https://www.gofundme.com/f/brianna-ghey 

Joseph Clayton

Featured image courtesy of Oriel Frankie Ashcroft via Pexels. Image license found here. No changes were made to this image. 

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