Last night I attended a vigil for a 16 year old trans girl named Brianna Ghey who was killed last Saturday in a public park in a Cheshire village.
Tributes are being held across the country to commemorate a young girl whose life was ended in shocking and violent ways.
Remembering Brianna, her family described a “larger than life character who left a lasting impression on everyone who met her” and said her death left a “massive hole” in her life.
I was shocked when I heard the news – and my heart sank immediately. It is now officially under investigation as a possible hate crime.
Whether or not that is the case, this murder has left me, other trans people, and the wider LGBT+ community concerned and scared.
To be honest, when we go out on the streets, we worry and fear that a violent crime might happen to us or those close to us.
This was compounded by the horrific response online to the news of Brianna’s death. I’ve seen gender-savvy Twitter users refer to her as a “boy” and tease her for being female rather than being killed.
Even after such a shocking crime, there are still people who don’t respect their dignity and gender identity
Unfortunately, I’m not surprised given how toxic the “debate” about our lives has become.
In recent years I have watched Britain become embroiled in shouting battles over transgender issues – from bathrooms to housing to prisons to gender recognition law
Last month the Westminster Government blocked legislation in Scotland aimed in part at simplifying the process of changing your birth certificate for trans people.
Even before Brianna’s death, my community felt drained and more vulnerable than before.
That crime contributed to that exhaustion, and some of the media coverage made things worse.
Some outlets included Brianna’s old name in their reports, avoiding references to her being a girl.
It had no relevance to the story and the use of her dead name is incredibly disrespectful in my opinion.
Being deadnamed (people using your old name) and wrong gender can be incredibly distressing as names and pronouns are some of the fundamental parts of who trans people are and how we choose to be addressed.
Even after her death, Brianna could not escape this aggression.
It was especially shocking given that Brianna was living her life with the support of her family and friends.
Reactions on social media were also grim as Brianna was routinely the wrong gender and people showed no respect for her or her family even after her death. It has absolutely horrified me to see this online for the past few days.
Brianna certainly wasn’t too young to know who she was, but what we all know is that she was way too young to die.
It’s so unfair that she isn’t respected the way she was – even in legal documents.
It’s likely that Brianna will not be entered as the correct gender on her death certificate, as in the UK you can’t apply for a so-called gender recognition certificate until you are 18 – and this document allows you to amend your birth certificate.
This UK law is not fit for purpose and there needs to be a serious overhaul of how trans people can change their ID cards and documents to accurately reflect who they are.
It doesn’t have to be like this.
There are countries across Europe that have allowed people of all ages to have their identity documents altered to reflect who they are – precisely to avoid such circumstances.
Unlike my trans friends and family here in the UK, as an Icelander I don’t have to worry about being recorded inaccurately if I die, but I do know it’s a real concern for those around me – which is highlighted became even more after Brianna’s fall.
Her death should be a wake-up call for everyone — especially politicians and policymakers.
When we talk about the transgender issue, we’re talking about real people like Brianna. She was a 16-year-old girl with everything still ahead of her and whose life has now come to an end. It is incredibly tragic and I send my deepest condolences to her family.
Even after such a shocking crime, there are still people who don’t respect their dignity and gender identity. It is terrifying and shows how far we still have to go to create a fair, just and free society for all, where we can be ourselves without persecution and stigma.
Until trans people in the UK can feel confident that they are fully protected and recognised, we will never really give people like Brianna Ghey the respect and dignity they deserve, in life or in death.
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MORE: ‘Say her name Brianna Ghey’: London pays tribute to 16-year-old schoolgirl
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https://metro.co.uk/2023/02/16/brianna-ghey-was-killed-but-some-are-taking-more-issue-with-her-gender-18292614/ Brianna Ghey was killed - but some have more issues with her gender