Woman recalls terrifying reality of being trans at emotional Brianna Ghey vigil: ‘I just want to be me’

Glasgow vigil for Brianna Ghey

More than 1,000 people gathered in Scotland and Wales to pay tribute to trans girl Brianna Ghey, as the third day of vigils took place. 

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 had a devastating impact on the LGBTQ+ community, with a particularly marked effect on the trans community. 

People leave tributes at a vigil for murdered schoolgirl Brianna Ghey on 16 February, 2023 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Peter Summers/Getty Images)

So far this week, candlelit vigils have been held in dozens of cities and towns across UK including London, Manchester, Dublin and Brighton. 

You may like to watch

Yesterday evening (16 February) more members – and allies – of the trans community gathered in Glasgow, Cardiff and other cities to remember the schoolgirl and stand in solidarity.  

An estimated 1,000 people stood together by candlelight in George Square in the Scottish city.

Many people held trans flags and signs which read statements including ‘protect trans kids’ and ‘rest in peace Brianna’. 

People held candles, flags and signs at the vigil. (Peter Summers/Getty Images)

Vigil organiser Gemma told Glasgow Live: “I think this vigil is important for many reasons.

“It’s tragic that this wee girl lost her life and there are a lot of trans people and parents of trans people who are really frightened just now, I think the community needs a bit of support.

“We want to provide comfort to a grieving family but we also want other trans kids and their families to know that they aren’t hated, there are so many people on their side that want them to live freely and not be afraid.”

On Twitter, the manager of Equality Network – Scotland’s LGBTQ+ equality charity – Scott Cuthbertson wrote: “A large turnout and sombre atmosphere here at the Glasgow vigil for Brianna Ghey with more people arriving every minute. 

“In the silence, there is resolve. 

“We must #ProtectTransKids.”

Within his tweet, he shared a video of the large crowd gathered in the square. 

On the same evening, a large candlelit vigil also took place in the Welsh capital.

A spokesperson for Glitter Cymru, a Cardiff based community of LGBTQ+ people, told ITV that the gathering was “a beacon of hope” for the transgender community.

Located in Gorsedd Gardens, the Cardiff vigil saw hundreds of people come together in “sorrow, anger and love”, Pride Cymru said.

“Across the length and breadth of Wales and the world, we must redouble our efforts to #ProtectTransKids,” the Pride group added.

One trans woman who attended the vigil said the situation for trans people is “terrifying”.

“I already fear walking through Bute Park alone at night to get home, now I won’t even attempt it. Being scared to leave your home out of fear of hate is exhausting and it makes me grieve that we have to live like this as a community.

“Whether Brianna’s death was the result of a hate crime or not, we have lost a young life which is always a tragedy. I will be attending the vigil to remember Brianna and all the trans lives we have lost.

“I just want to be me. I just want to be safe”, she explained to ITV Wales.

Throughout the week, thousands of people have turned out across the UK to remember Ghey

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’.

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