Brianna Ghey: The Times condemned for using teen’s deadname in ‘appalling’ coverage

Brianna Ghey pictured outdoors wearing a light-coloured hoodie. Her hair is long and auburn and she is smiling and wearing thick-rimmed glasses. Trees can be seen in the background.

Readers, MPs and LGBTQ+ groups have shared their disgust at disrespectful news coverage of the killing of trans girl Brianna Ghey.

Ghey, 16, was pronounced dead on Saturday (11 February) after she was discovered with stab wounds on a path in Culcheth Linear Park, in Warrington.

A boy and a girl, both aged 15, have been arrested on suspicion of murder.

The Times, BBC News and Sky News are among the media organisations that have faced backlash for their reporting of the case.

The Times came in for particular criticism after its original story was amended to remove the word “girl” and to include Ghey’s deadname.

Deadnaming is the act of using a trans person’s former name. It is considered to be disrespectful and harmful, and is banned from both Twitter and TikTok.

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Trans Safety Network drew attention to edits made to the article, adding that it was “appalled” by the coverage.

Ash Sarkar, a contributing editor at Novara Media, tweeted: “A 16-year-old girl has been taken from her friends and family when her life was only just beginning. I cannot fathom the callousness involved in making the editorial decision to violate her dignity in death.”

The article was later amended again to restore the word “girl” and to remove Ghey’s deadname.

Charlotte Nichols, the Labour MP for Warrington North, said she would write to The Times and to the Independent Press Standards Organisation to complain about the use of Ghey’s former name.

Nichols told PinkNews that the local community is “reeling from the news” of Brianna’s death.

“Brianna’s family have been very clear in their statement who Brianna was: ‘a much-loved daughter, granddaughter and baby sister’. That should be the starting point for any coverage, and how we all talk about her.

“Brianna was trans, and at this point it is not clear whether that was relevant to the circumstances surrounding her death, but there is absolutely no need whatsoever for anyone to publish her deadname when identifying her as trans in media coverage.”

She added: “The least we can all do for Brianna is remember her for who she was, and not who she wasn’t, out of respect not only for Brianna but for her grieving family and friends.”

Brianna Ghey
Brianna Ghey was found in a Warrington park.

Other media outlets have also faced criticism over their reporting of the case.

In their initial reports, BBC News and Sky News failed to mention that Ghey was trans. The former has since updated its article to state that she was a transgender girl.

But the BBC’s report only references Ghey’s gender identity once. By comparison, they used the word “trans” 99 times in a notorious and widely-condemned article that claimed lesbians were being pressured into having sex with trans women.

Meanwhile, Sky News has still not updated its report to note that Ghey was trans.

Brianna Ghey killed amid ‘moral repugnance’ against trans community

Police are not currently treating Ghey’s death as a hate crime, but many have noted that it comes amid a wider climate of anti-trans rhetoric and violence.

Trans Safety Network said some sections of the media are “publicly disrespecting” Ghey in the wake of her death.

Police attend the scene where 16-year-old Brianna Ghey was found with multiple stab wounds on a path at Linear Park in Culcheth.
Police attend the scene where 16-year-old Brianna Ghey was found on a path at Linear Park in Culcheth. (Christopher Furlong/Getty)

“Whatever the specific circumstances leading to Brianna Ghey’s death, we are currently living through a period of unprecedented moral repugnance towards trans people, largely channelled through a compliant media which shows less and less respect for trans peoples’ lives and humanity,” a spokesperson told PinkNews.

“We have seen how even in death, the press has chosen to compound this harm by publicly disrespecting Brianna’s identity until public outcry forced them to reconsider.

“It shouldn’t take a public show of grief to value the lives of trans children, and her life should have been valued enough to not have been taken in the first place.”

jane fae, the chairperson of Trans Media Watch, described The Times’ decision to publish Ghey’s birth name as a “new low”.

“This is not the first time that Trans Media Watch has seen reporting done in such a way as to airbrush out any acknowledgement of an individual’s gender when it turns out that the victim was trans,” fae said.

“In this instance, the police have confirmed that Brianna was a young girl – pronouns she/her and trans – and parents are clearly supportive. So, there is no excuse for this cold, calculating manipulation of the news narrative.”

Brianna Ghey has been remembered by her family as a “much loved daughter, granddaughter, and baby sister”.

“She was a larger than life character who would leave a lasting impression on all that met her. Brianna was beautiful, witty and hilarious. Brianna was strong, fearless and one of a kind,” her parents said in a statement.

PinkNews has contacted The Times for comment.

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