The death of 16-year-old trans girl Brianna Ghey in a public park in Cheshire last Saturday is yet another tragic example of the violence and discrimination that trans people face every day. Her family described her as a ‘larger than life character who left a lasting impression on anyone that met her’ and said her death has left a ‘massive hole’ in their lives. The incident is now officially being investigated as a possible hate crime, and has left the trans community feeling distressed and scared.
It is not just the violence that trans people face that causes distress, but also the language used to discuss and refer to them, both online and in the media. Even after her death, Brianna was deadnamed and misgendered in some media coverage, which is incredibly disrespectful and distressing for trans people. This is compounded by the toxic debates about trans issues in UK politics and the Westminster Government blocking a law in Scotland, which was partly designed to make the process of changing your birth certificate simpler for trans people.
If Brianna had been over 18, she would have been able to change her birth certificate to accurately reflect her gender identity. However, in the UK you cannot apply for a gender recognition certificate until you are 18, leaving many trans youth unable to change their ID documents to accurately reflect who they are. This shows why it is so important that the UK overhauls its laws to make it easier for all trans people to change their ID documents, regardless of their age.
The death of Brianna Ghey is a tragedy that should serve as a wake-up call for everyone, in particular for politicians and policy makers. Trans people should be able to live their lives without fear of discrimination or violence, and be given the respect and dignity they deserve.