Newspapers continue relentless attacks on trans people in days after Brianna Ghey killing

Mock-up image shows phone with an anti-trans headline on

LGBTQ+ charities have slammed the right-wing UK press for continuing its relentless attacks on the trans community in the days following the murder of 16-year-old trans girl Brianna Ghey.

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

A boy and a girl, both aged 15, have been charged with Brianna Ghey’s murder.

Readers, MPs and LGBTQ+ groups shared their outrage at the coverage of Brianna Ghey’s death in several newspapers, with The Times coming under fire for its original story, which was amended to remove the word “girl” and to include the student’s deadname.

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

People attend a vigil for trans teen Brianna Ghey, who was murdered on Saturday 11 February (Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

Aside from coverage of the 16-year-old’s tragic death, right-wing newspapers have continued producing anti-trans opinion pieces and news articles in the days that followed, as vigils take place across the UK to honour the schoolgirl.

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The Telegraph claimed that Nicola Sturgeon resigned from her role as First Minister for Scotland due to her “radical approach to transgender rights”, and her support for the Gender Recognition Reform Bill, which was struck down by the Conservative party.

Sturgeon herself confirmed the backlash to her support of the trans community was not a factor in her resignation. 

Meanwhile, several outlets have continued to publish articles criticising young people transitioning or receiving gender-affirming care, with The Times publishing a story just one day after Ghey’s death claiming that trans children could experience “regret” after transitioning at a young age. 

This is despite studies confirming children who receive gender-affirming care are not likely to regret their decision, with 98 per cent of adults who start gender-affirming medical treatment as an adolescent continuing to use those hormones. 

There has also been ongoing coverage of the book “Time to Think: The Inside Story of the Collapse of the Tavistock’s Gender Service for Children”, about the closure of the UK’s sole dedicated youth gender clinic in 2022.

Aspects of the Tavistock clinic have been much-criticised as the book is due to be released, and while parents of trans children raised legitimate concerns about the clinic before its closure, some right-wing coverage merely criticised gender-affirming care for children being made available at all.

The Daily Mail published a story criticising beloved TikTok star Dylan Mulvaney for speaking about tampons and accepting a PR package from Tampax – as she said she wants to be able to provide tampons for people who ask for them in the women’s bathroom – quoting a trans reality star who said trans women promoting menstrual products is “misogynistic”. 

In a statement given to Trans Media Watch has referred to trans coverage in the UK media, following Brianna Ghey’s death as “a new low”.

“The news of the murder of a young trans woman is shocking; but, given the climate of hostility whipped up over the past few years by the press, not unexpected,” the advocacy group said.

“The only surprise was the new low in coverage of this story by a number of ‘news organisations’, with the Times leading the way in active erasure of trans people.

“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.”

The charity highlighted a consultation by IPSO on new guidance for the reporting of sex and gender identity, stating “today’s mis-reporting makes it doubly important for trans folk to input to that consultation”. 

Amy Ashenden, interim CEO of LGBT+ youth charity Just Like Us, also told PinkNews: “Brianna’s death, and the widespread media coverage of it, is very triggering for trans young people who are already a particularly vulnerable group. 

“We encourage everyone to offer support to the young trans people in their lives, and hope that young trans people feel able to reach out to loved ones, or services like Switchboard, for help.”

In the US, nearly 200 New York Times writers and contributors have signed an open letter to the newspaper denouncing its “editorial bias” over reporting on the trans and non-binary community.

The letter connected anti-trans media coverage to real law changes, arguing that articles against gender-affirming care had led to laws in certain states limiting gender-affirming care for trans youth.

“Some of us are trans, non⁠-⁠binary, or gender nonconforming, and we resent the fact that our work, but not our person, is good enough for the paper of record,” the letter read. 

“Some of us are cis, and we have seen those we love discover and fight for their true selves, often swimming upstream against currents of bigotry and pseudoscience fomented by the kind of coverage we here protest.”