Brianna Ghey: Second day of vigils sees thousands unite in ‘rage’ and heartbreak

People gathered at a vigil for Brianna Ghey

Thousands of people turned out at vigils across the UK on Wednesday (15 February) to remember trans teen Brianna Ghey, who was stabbed to death in a park. 

The 16-year-old was found by a member of the public in Linear Park in Culcheth, Cheshire on Saturday (11 February) and was pronounced dead at the scene by emergency services. 

Following her death, two 15-year-olds – a boy and girl from Leigh – were arrested and have subsequently been charged with Ghey’s murder

Initially Cheshire Police were not treating the killing as a hate-crime, however the force has now said it will not rule out Ghey’s death was motivated by the fact she was trans.

The death of the “beautiful, witty and hilarious” teen has rocked the LGBTQ+ community, with a particularly marked impact on the trans community. 

Around 1,000 people attended the vigil in London (Iklas Halle/Getty Images)

On Wednesday (15 February), thousands of people gathered on streets in UK cities and towns to hold candlelit vigils in memory of the teen and to stand in solidarity with the trans community. 

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At cities including Manchester, London, Dublin, and Brighton, people lit candles, held trans flags and posters with Ghey’s pictures, as well as placards which read things such as ‘trans rights now’, ‘justice for Brianna Ghey’ and ‘protect trans youth’. 

In London, a vigil was held outside the Department for Education building in Great Smith Street, Westminster.  

A large banner was placed in front of the DfE sign which read ‘where are human rights’, while ‘trans rights are human rights’ was written in the left-hand corner. 

Video footage shared on social media also shows the London crowd – which was estimated to be around 1,000 people – chanting ‘trans rights are human rights’. 

Other videos also show people at the London event chanting ‘f**k Keir Starmer’, which has stoked controversy. 

Taking to Twitter, many trans people who were at the vigil explained the explicit, and brief, chant was in reference to Starmer’s silence over Ghey’s death and his previous comments that 16-year-olds are “too young” to transition. 

Neil Hudson-Basing, who attended the vigil in London, told PinkNews he went along to “show solidarity with my trans+ siblings” and to be counted as someone who “stands against the current treatment of trans, non-binary and gender non-confirming in the UK and worldwide”. 

“For me as a gay man, there is no LGB without the T,” Hudson-Basing said, “It’s insane that so many people are unable to grasp how the constant badgering, questioning and debate around trans+ lives accompanied by inhumane, cruel and reckless words, actions, reporting and policy ultimately lead to tragedies like this.” 

He continued: “The vigil was powerful but rage-inducing and emotional. Brianna should have got to experience her life and the trans joy she deserved – that all trans+ folk deserve.”

The London vigil was held outside the Department for Education. (Guy Smallman/Getty Images)

One attendee at the Swansea vigil, Dee Llewellyn, told PinkNews she was there both as a member of Pride Cymru and as a parent. 

“As a parent of a 17 year old transgender child myself, this issue is very close to my heart. I was truly heartbroken to hear of the distressing murder of Brianna Ghey and terrified by the horrific means by which she lost her precious life.

“Children are not born hating. They are not born with prejudice or a feeling that others are less worthy of choice, compassion and respect. It is a learned behaviour.” 

Llewellyn continued: “Cardiff joined together as a community to mourn the loss of Brianna. We vowed to do what we can to encourage compassion, inclusion and equality for our trans siblings.

“We will remember Brianna, although most of us did not know her personally her name will fuel us all to continue to protect trans kids, always.”

A candlelit vigil was held in Liverpool on Tuesday (14 February) (Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

Wednesday’s vigils followed similar events in Liverpool and Bristol on Tuesday (14 February), in which hundreds attended. 

Further vigils are set to be held in other parts of the country during the rest of the week.