England, Wales and Scotland section of International Socialist Alternative

Brianna Ghey trial: An indictment of a violent, transphobic system

Content warning: Transphobic and violent language

Nine months after the tragic death of Brianna Ghey, two teenagers stand accused of her brutal murder at Manchester Crown Court. Brianna, a 16 year old trans girl, was killed in a public park in broad daylight, sparking mass outrage not only at the brutality of the crime, but at the disgusting manner in which the media treated her after her death.

The disrespect and lack of dignity afforded to Brianna and her grieving family by the media, who at first refused to report that she was trans, but then attempted to publish her dead name, speaks to a shocking dehumanisation of trans people. This, combined with the initial reluctance to treat her death as a hate crime, is a clear indication of the unwillingness to address systemic transphobia, and to downplay the reality that so many trans people experience. 

Culture wars

Brianna’s death came in the midst of a rising wave of transphobia, stoked by the Tories and the capitalist media, as part of their ‘culture war’ offensive. Day after day, the lurid news stories describing trans and non-binary people as ‘predators’ and attacking so-called ‘LGBT ideology’, have had deadly consequences. 

Reports from the trial detail conversations between the two defendants, where they repeatedly refer to Brianna as “it”, and described wanting to see if they would “scream like a man or a girl” after being attacked. It has since come out that for months, if not years, Brianna had been targeted at school for being trans. In the screenshots provided to the court, the defendants discussed how killing Brianna would not be seen as suspicious since she had already been posting on social media about her struggles with her mental health. It is beyond any doubt that the duo targeted Brianna due to her vulnerability and identity as a trans woman, and wanted to use her stigmatisation as a way to escape detection.

These horrific details only serve to underline what so many have been saying. The transphobic ‘culture wars’, designed to whip up a reactionary frenzy and stoke division, have real world consequences. They cost lives. 

Never again! 

Socialist Alternative sends its deepest solidarity to the family of and all those who knew and cared for Brianna. We also express our rage and opposition to the Tory culture warriors, the transphobes in the media and capitalist elite who stoked the fire which led to Brianna’s tragically early end.

As we mourn the loss of Brianna and all those lost to transphobic violence, we also need to get organised to fight back. Local protests, demonstrations and school walkouts against transphobic violence should be organised to clearly place the blame where it sits, and to say we will not tolerate another young person lost to this violence! Discussions on how to organise these kinds of actions could take place in the schools and college to include students, education workers and supportive parents on how we can kick out transphobia from our places of learning. 

Discussions should take place across the education trade unions, to discuss what role the workers’ movement can play in the fight to defend trans students. This means fighting for LGBTQ-inclusive sex and relationships education in schools to tackle bullying, and opposing Tory attacks on trans students’ rights. It means struggling for proper funding for education, paid for by taxing the super-rich and ending privatisation, to provide the resources and care needed for all young people. 

End this violent system

If we want to seriously eradicate transphobia, it is not enough to address it as a symptom. We must address the root cause: the capitalist order that is built on the exploitation of the working class majority by the capitalist minority, which relies on the oppression of queer people, women, people of colour and disabled people, along with the entire working class. 

This 25 November – the International Day for the Elimination of Gender Violence – Socialist Feminist Alternative has organised demonstrations and protests, in a number of towns and cities. We marched and spoke out to demand an end to the pandemic of violence against women and gender non-conforming people, as well as an end to the massacre in Gaza. 

We will continue our fight, linking up with feminists, striking workers and all those who want to fight for a socialist world, which can guarantee the dignity, freedom and respect for all oppressed people. 

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