Vigil held in Birmingham remembering murdered trans teenager Brianna Ghey
A vigil has been held in Birmingham’s Gay Village this evening to mourn the death of teenage trans girl Brianna Ghey.
The 16-year-old – described by her family as a “much-loved” daughter, granddaughter, and sister – was found stabbed to death in a village Park in Warrington, Cheshire, on Saturday 11 February.
Two teenagers, a boy and a girl, both age 15 and from the local area, have appeared in court charged with Brianna’s murder.
The horrific murder has sent shockwaves across the UK’s LGBTQ+ community, with vigils being held across the country calling for greater protection for young trans people.
Outside the Hippodrome Theatre in Birmingham city centre, mourners gathered to grieve, light candles and share a moment of silence for the killed transgender teen.
The vigil was organised independently by young trans people in the city, initially promoted by newly formed collective @thetranstearoom on Instagram, who have been supported by local activists.
Many of those in attendance held up placards and signs honouring Brianna’s memory – including copies of artwork especially created for the event by Birmingham artist Robert Lockley – while others displayed posters about transgender rights.
Speaking at the vigil, trans rights activist Eva Echo said Brianna Ghey’s murder had shocked and brought people together from across the country.
“There haven’t been vigils like this before. I mean in the space of 48-72 hours, we’ve had 40-50 odd vigils planned nationwide and they’ve been well attended; and the reason for that is people realise that this isn’t just about gender identity.
“Yes, she was transgender but that’s just one facet of Brianna’s person, she was somebody’s daughter, she had a life ahead of her and just by being herself, by being visible, she was tragically taken away.
“The trans community stand in solidarity because it could be any one of us and we all know that with hate crime stats always on the rise. We know that anyone of us can be next, but we also recognise that Brianna was able to come out, she had that life ahead of her, that time when you can be yourself, be authentic, is taken away and that’s excruciating and we come together to recognise that some people unfortunately don’t have that luxury.”
Lee, a West Midlands campaigner against hate, told the crowd in Hurst Street: “The reason we’re here is because we are shocked and saddened by the death of a young girl. We are angry because we believe discrimination, prevalent political rhetoric and anti-trans media coverage are in part to blame for this murder.
“If it’s about hate crime then I think there’s a solid agreement here that the media in this country has a major part in creating a hostile climate in this country for transgender people. Politicians have latched onto this for their own political gain as well.”
A young person in attendance also took to the open mic to vent their fears and frustration, expressing sorrow and anger at the murder, saying: “I am terrified to walk out in the street.”
Fighting tears back, they went on, “I have been sexually harassed, I’ve had rocks thrown at me, I have been insulted. I am terrified for my parents because I see them worry when I step out on the street.”
Individuals from the the crowd shouted “We love you!” as a show of support for the young trans speaker.
Popular TikToker Brianna was found with fatal stab wounds on a path in Culcheth Linear Park, near Birchwood in Warrington, where she was from.
Dozens of events in tribute to Brianna are taking place around the country, including gatherings in Liverpool, Manchester, Bristol, Reading, Brighton, Belfast, and York. Locally, vigils have been organised in Coventry, Telford and Stourbridge.
This morning at 11am, all of the UK’s LGBTQ+ radio stations have held a minute’s silence for Brianna to highlight the issue of discrimination and violence against the trans community.
“We stand with Brianna and send our condolences to Brianna’s family in this difficult time,” said Adam Khan, co-facilitator of TranSpectrum.
“It is a horrific crime which we know will leave a lasting impact on Brianna’s loved ones – this is a great loss to our community.”
Joining mourners in Birmingham were local councillors including John Cotton, Council Cabinet Member for Social Justice, Community Safety & Equalities.
“Tonight, I joined hundreds of my fellow citizens on Hurst Street at a vigil to remember Brianna Ghey,” Cllr Cotton tweeted.
“The loss of a young life in an act of such brutality is horrific. We must always stand steadfast in the face of violence and hatred.”
West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner Simon Foster was also present at the vigil. “Equality and human rights are about the rights and freedoms of all of us,” he said.
Two 15-year-olds have appeared in court charged with the murder of Brianna. The pair, both aged 15, appeared via video link at Liverpool Crown Court, speaking only to confirm their names. A provisional trial date was set for 10 July with the trial expected to last around three weeks.
WATCH | Brianna Ghey vigil in Birmingham:
Donations on a GoFundMe crowdfunding page set up for Brianna’s family have passed £100,000.