On Saturday February 11, Brianna Ghey was found seriously injured on a pathway in Culcheth Linear Park, Cheshire. Emergency services were called, but 16-year-old Brianna tragically died at the scene of the crime. As the British police investigated the murder of the teenager, there was one question at the forefront of the investigation. Was this a hate crime?
In initial statements, police said that there was no evidence to suggest the circumstances around Brianna Ghey's death were fueled by hate. But when the 16-year-old who is stabbed in a park in broad daylight happens to also be transgender, that question needs to be asked again.
Brianna Ghey is described as a "beacon of positivity" by her friends. Her TikTok fans thought so too, with her account amassing over 30,000 followers before it was deleted. She would post videos of her outfits, lipsync and speak about her love of hair extensions and makeup. She was also a support network to many other young trans girls who spoke up about the positive role she played for them in their various phases of transition.
Although the police haven't definitively put the crime down to hate, several people have acknowledged that transphobia was most likely a factor in her death. Former Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn tweeted “she was killed because she wanted to be herself,” and added, “My thoughts are with Brianna's family and the trans community fighting for safety, dignity and liberation.” On top of this, friends of hers on social media spoke about the fact that she was bullied at school and that the authorities did not intervene.
Who are the police investigating?
After extending the time for questioning the suspects, a 15-year-old boy and girl, police are revisiting the possibility that the horrific crime might have been fuelled by hate. In cases such as these, it is important not to spread misinformation online as there is already too much of that. A spokesperson for the police force has asked people to "please continue to avoid speculation online and be wary of sharing misinformation relating to this case." The force also said detectives had been granted another 30 hours to question the two suspects.
There was a vigil held for Brianna in Liverpool on Tuesday night (February 14) where people remembered Brianna. In the words of people that knew Brianna well, "She was a larger-than-life character that would leave a lasting impression on all that met her. Brianna was beautiful, witty and hilarious. Brianna was strong, fearless and one of a kind."
Brianna left a big impact on people. In a statement posted on Twitter by Labour MP Charlotte Nichols, Ghey's family spoke out. "The loss of her young life has left a massive hole in our family, and we know that the teachers and her friends who were involved in her life will feel the same."
"We would like to thank everyone for their kind words and support during this extremely difficult time." The family's statement continued.
A candlelit vigil is taking place on College Green tonight to remember Brianna Ghey pic.twitter.com/TNeivcCGrg
— Martin Booth (@beardedjourno) February 14, 2023
A statement from the family of Brianna Ghey. May her memory forever be a blessing ❤️
Please continue to come forward with any information that may assist the police, and avoid online speculation which will be distressing to Brianna's grieving friends and family. pic.twitter.com/64g37ddZlB
— Charlotte Nichols (@charlotte2153) February 13, 2023
The media's reporting
In the early stages of reporting on this case, the media made some disrespectful mistakes. In an interview with Vice, a friend of Brianna's said she felt "sick" because of the way Brianna's death was initially reported on. Some newspapers used her dead name, while others ignored the fact that she is trans. She continued that this behaviour was disrespectful "especially because the police said it was a targeted attack." Sadly, due to the U.K's sluggish name and gender change process, Ghey will probably be misgendered and deadnamed on official documents surrounding her death, as advocates have pointed out.
Support is needed
LGBTQIA+ campaign group Stonewall UK said their thoughts were with Brianna Ghey and her loved ones.
"We urge anyone who may have information which will help the police with their enquiries to come forward," it said.
A GoFundMe has been set up to help the family and raise money for Brianna's funeral. After two days there has been many donors and commentators sending the family love and support.
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Image source: Instagram