Brianna Ghey Brianna Ghey. Photo: Public Domain

Following the death of the young transgender teenager, Maddalena Dunscombe reports from the London vigil this week

On Wednesday 15 February around 50 candlelit vigils were held across the UK and Ireland in memory of Brianna Ghey, a 16 year-old girl from Warrington, Cheshire. Organised and attended by the transgender community, thousands expressed their grief and anger over the death of the young transgender teenager. Brianna Ghey was the victim of a fatal transphobic attack on 11 February.

At the London vigil on Wednesday night almost 1,000 people gathered outside the Department of Education. The location was a pointed choice as many speakers at the event criticised the misinformation and dehumanisation of trans people in media, in education and beyond:

“Fuck the culture war” was chanted by the crowd. After the speakers and a minute silence, a short die-in followed the vigil. To many attending, the link between anti-trans rhetoric and anti-trans violence was not only evident but a crime in itself. Placards that read “Our blood is on your hands” were laid down by the candles – as well messages of love, grief and support.

According to the Transgender Day of Remembrance, in 2022 alone 375 trans and non-binary people across the globe were victims of fatal transphobic attacks. What’s more, studies have shown that the rise in anti-trans rhetoric led by right-wing and even white nationalist groups is directly fuelling violent acts against trans people – and even the wider LGBTQ+ community.

Shon Faye, trans activist and author, stressed in an interview at the London vigil how the violence against Brianna Ghey did not occur in a vacuum:

“This Tory-led government and its vile education policy has refused repeatedly to protect trans youth, to implement trans inclusion guidelines and to teach about gender.”

While the promise of safety for trans people is in utter crisis, it would truly be a failure for anyone to continue to ignore their voices which are not only calling for respect, but for a right to live. It is now more important than ever to step away from the so-called culture war and toxic debates which fuel hate and violence against the trans community and begin to enact true support.

The sentiment of the vigil was, as one speaker said, to mourn our dead and fight back for the living.

Vigils in honour of Brianna Ghey will continue to be held this week across the UK and Ireland.

If you would like to support a vigil tomorrow, Saturday 18 February, the full list is here:

Aberdeen: 5pm, Mariscal College
Derby: 5:30pm, The Spot (Derby City Centre)
Exeter: 1pm, Exeter Cathedral
Hull: 3pm, Queen Victoria Square
Leeds: 3pm, Park Square
Leicester: 5:30pm, Clocktower
London: 3pm, Soho Square
Newcastle: 6pm, Times Square
Northampton: 4pm, Northampton Unitarians
Reading: 7pm, Forbury Gardens
Warrington: 4:30, Old Market Square
Wolverhampton: 12:15, Pride House

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