A photo of Brianna Ghey for the article commenting on transphobia surrounding Brianna. Credit; Family Handout.
A photo of Brianna Ghey for the article commenting on transphobia surrounding Brianna. Credit; Family Handout.

The trial for the murder of Brianna Ghey has concluded with both defendants being found guilty. However transphobia surrounding Brianna Ghey’s death continues to proliferate online and in the media.

Transphobia is without a doubt an inextricable part of this story despite the attempts of various anti-trans campaigners to play down or otherwise outright deny the transphobia surrounding Brianna and her murder.

The first instance of transphobia surrounding Brianna Ghey’s murder that I saw was a group of youths heckling Eva Echo during an interview at a vigil for the murdered teenager.

Things didn’t really improve from there as when the murder of Brianna Ghey was being reported in February earlier this year; the gutter press sought out local dentists and opticians to find out information on Brianna. They discovered her deadname and proceeded to publicise it – which was met with wide condemnation from the trans community.

So its inexcusable that during the murder trial even the BBC got in on the transphobia surrounding Brianna Ghey by also publicising her deadname. The name was included as part of evidence submitted by the prosecution; Brianna’s debit card, in her old name, was found in place linking it to a defendant. It was necessary for the court to hear this information; it was not necessary for this information to be spread to the public.

Anti-trans campaigners desperate to disprove the idea that there was any transphobia surrounding Brianna Ghey’s murder have since engaged in an anti-trans harassment campaign online. Searching out trans people speaking about the case and Brianna to misgender a murdered teenager while gleefully reposting her deadname.

Some anti-trans campaigners have even gone as far into denial of transphobia surrounding Brianna that they have suggested she was not targeted for being transgender but rather as part of “a broad net targeting only men for murder”. This despite evidence submitted by the prosecution that shows the defendants being repeatedly transmisogynist in messages to each other.

These are claims that we should have been able to rebut however the court ruled that describing comments such as “I want to know if Brianna screams like a man or a girl” as transmisogynist was contempt, stifling any discussion of transphobia. Jolyon Maugham reportedly had a police visit for his comments of this nature while no anti-trans pundits seem to have received the same treatment for theirs.

I largely expected these kind of shenanigans from the mainstream press, the gutter press and the judicial system in general. None of these institutions have ever been what you would consider a friend to trans or queer people in general. However I truly did not expect to see outlets like Pink News also get in on horrific sensationalism.

I first saw the headline in The Liverpool Echo. Then I saw it in The Guardian. Then finally I saw it again in Pink News. “Boy says co-accused called herself a satanist”. Genuinely a sickening thing to have focused on during a whole day of hearing police interviews from the accused in the days following the murder of Brianna Ghey.

All of which has nothing on the podcast promising to take listeners through every “twist and turn” of Brianna Ghey’s murder trial. Complete with child sounding voice actors reading from the court transcripts.

And the horrific sensationalism and transphobia surrounding Brianna’s death continues even now the trial has concluded. The latest I’ve seen being an article in The Guardian claiming that an “anti-trans motivation was ruled out” during the trial. Which isn’t true. The prosecution submitted evidence before the court which they could still use to pursue anti-trans hate crime as an aggravating factor during sentencing. If they do then the Judge will have to decide whether to accept this or not.

Though it changes very little whether or not the aggravating factor is applied. The youths are already pretty likely to be given the maximum possible sentence following their guilty verdict. They will be sentenced February 2 2024 where they will also have their identities revealed to the press for a whole new batch of sensationalism over a dead teenager to occur.

There’s no other way to put it; Brianna’s death was worth more to the British media than her life and they aren’t done wringing her body dry of every last drop they can get from her. They will never stop behaving in ways that enable the dehumanisation and victimisation of trans people because there’s no value for them and their bylines in doing so. Truly disgusting people, truly a disgusting system.

Some people have said that they are glad there has been some justice for Brianna with the delivery of the guilty verdict and I couldn’t disagree more. There will be no justice for Brianna or any trans person in the UK until our lives are held in higher regard than the stories of our often tragic deaths. In honour of that I’d like to finish this piece with some (paraphrased) words from Brianna’s headteacher about the kind of person she was in life;

“She was sharp-tongued, had a strong sense of justice and was not afraid to say what she thought. She was a creative, witty young lady who was robbed of the chance to grow up and fulfill her ambitions. She was iconic in her look, she had a sparkle and you could never miss her.

Once met, never forgotten.”

Rest in peace, Brianna – you deserved so much better than this.