Only The Beginning: What Does Brianna Ghey’s Murder Means For The Future Of The Trans Community


Photo of Brianna, released by the Cheshire Police Department

Em Claflin, Staff Writer

  On Saturday, the 11th of February, 2023, just four days ago as of writing this, Brianna Ghey, a sixteen-year-old transgender girl, was found stabbed to death in a park in Warrington, England. Two teenagers from nearby Leigh, both fifteen, have been arrested and are currently being tried for her murder. Cheshire Police has stated that the possibility of her murder being a hate crime “has not been ruled out”.

     And as if being stabbed to death in what was likely a hate crime wasn’t bad enough, Brianna’s death certificate and headstone refer to her by her legal name, Brian. 

     This is far from the first time something like this has happened. The Human Rights Campaign has counted at least 302 violent deaths of transgender and gender non-conforming people since they began tracking deaths like these in 2013. However, it is likely that killings like these have gone massively underreported.

     What sets Brianna’s death apart from other such murders, however, is that hers seems to possibly be linked to the recent explosion of anti-trans sentiment, especially in the United Kingdom and the United States. In recent years, a large portion of mainstream conservative politicians in the US has shifted the focus of their platform towards rolling back general bodily autonomy rights, both for cisgender women and especially for trans youth. 350 pieces of legislation in 36 states targeting the rights of the transgender community, especially the youth, are being considered in just this current legislative period alone. Six states – Arkansas, Alabama, Utah, South Dakota, Tennessee, and Arizona – have passed laws that either heavily restrict or outright ban access to gender-affirming medical care for minors. These bans also affect hormone blockers specifically prescribed for endocrine issues, which, even when not considering the outright attack on an already heavily marginalized group, is a pretty heinous oversight. 18 different states have also passed laws that prevent transgender students from participating in school sports not corresponding to their biological sex, with Florida managing to add on yet another layer of controversy by subjecting student-athletes to genital inspection and hormone tests. For example, a little bit closer to home, the Conway Public School District has proposed a policy forcing students to use the restrooms corresponding to their sex assigned at birth.

     This anti-trans hysteria is by no means exclusive to the United States. In January of this year, the UK Government blocked a law passed by the Scottish Parliament that allowed transgender people aged 16 and over to change the gender listed on their legal documentation. The UK is also a sort of unofficial headquarters for a group of anti-trans activists who are often referred to as Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminists (TERF), though calling them “feminists” is a bit of a stretch since they aren’t exactly very big on equality.

     One particularly infamous example of a TERF is author J.K. Rowling, who has spent the past few years using her massive social media following to espouse anti-trans rhetoric, specifically targeting trans women. Of her incredibly long list of controversies, her most recent one revolves around the newly-release Hogwarts Legacy, with the game being accused of not only being transphobic but also of being explicitly antisemitic.

     The combination of anti-trans legislation and mass media hysteria has created an inescapable environment where transgender people are subject to constant harassment and are in danger of being assaulted, or worse, purely for their identity. The murder of Brianna Ghey and the murders of the hundreds or possibly thousands of other transgender people in the last decade serve as grim examples of the hatred that permeates our society, and from the looks of things, the hatred and violence towards the transgender community is going to get much, much worse.