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Brianna Ghey murder: LGBTQ+ charities see 'spike' in demand a year on from 'brutal and sadistic' attack
11 February 2024, 07:47 | Updated: 11 February 2024, 07:49
A year on from the murder of Brianna Ghey, charities have told LBC they've seen a growing number of transgender young people "desperate" for support.
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The 16-year-old was stabbed to death in Culcheth Linear Park on February 11, 2023, in an attack described in court as "brutal" and "sadistic."
During sentencing, the judge, Mrs Justice Yip, said the murder was partly motivated by "hostility towards Brianna because of her transgender identity".
Scarlett Jenkinson and Eddie Ratcliffe, both 16, were jailed for life on February 2, with minimum terms of 22 years and 20 years, respectively.
'A wake up call'
Campaigners say the case has had an impact on the whole LGBTQ+ community.
Eva Echo, a transgender writer and speaker, told LBC: "As a visible and openly out trans person, it really does make you think, because Brianna was open about who she was. She was visible.
"Anybody out there can see you, but you don't necessarily know who they are. In the back of our mind, we are always cautious. We're always looking over our shoulder, because of misinformation in the mainstream media, from politicians, even at Government level," she added.
Eva, who also sits on the Crown Prosecution Service Hate Crime Panel, describes the case as a "wake up call," showing "it's right to have those fears".
The fears aren't unique to Eva. Charity, The Proud Trust, supporting LGBTQ+ young people in Greater Manchester, says people they work with are "feeling frightened, feeling misunderstood".
Deputy CEO, Susie Cuthill, told LBC: "We're trying to lift those young people up and help them feel safe and valued and help them feel confident and proud of who they are. But it's very difficult when they go out into the world and that's a very different message they're faced with.
"We saw a real spike in the number of young people, trans young people in particular, reaching out to us, but also the adults in their life, really desperate to get support very quickly."
On the day following Brianna's death, the UK's LGBTQ+ support line saw a 79% increase in calls to its service, with 40% of those specifically referencing the case.
Switchboard CEO, Stephanie Fuller, told LBC: "The day that awful story broke, I remember it really vividly.
"It was about people feeling unsafe about their place in the world. It wasn't just trans people, it was actually families as well," she said.
"Parents [were] saying, 'my daughter's just come out. I'm really worried about her place in the world now. Is she going to be safe?'"
Parents of Brianna Ghey remember her as ‘funny, witty and fearless’
'A huge amount of hostility'
Stephanie told LBC, Brianna's murder happened at a time when life for transgender people was already difficult.
She says there was a "very similar" spike in demand after the Prime Minister's speech at the Conservative Party Conference in October, in which he told the audience in Manchester: "We shouldn't get bullied into believing that people can be any sex they want to be. They can't, a man is a man and a woman is a woman."
Stephanie said callers were "talking about feeling unsafe".
She explained: "We have instances of people talking about managing how much they drink before they go out, so they don't have to use any public facilities.
"It's an overwhelming feeling of being unsafe and worrying about using public transport, public spaces, and navigating the world that everyone else gets to navigate without having to think about it."
Cleo Madeleine, from the charity Gendered Intelligence, thinks Brianna Ghey's murder was "a really shocking event, that came at a time when there's a huge amount of hostility in the news, there's a huge amount of hostility coming from the Government.
"Trans people are feeling let down, trans people are feeling under pressure, and then you see a news story like this that is so shocking it really brings these feelings to a head, really sharpens them," she told LBC.
Brianna Ghey vigil
'You're not alone'
Following Brianna Ghey's murder, a number of vigils were organised across the UK, with more events planned to mark the anniversary today (11th February 2024).
Susie Cuthill, from The Proud Trust, says there's a "lot of warmth from the full LGBTQ+ community, and there are a lot of cisgender allies really stepping up to support their trans community members".
Asked for her advice for young people struggling as the anniversary is marked, she told LBC: "Just know you're not alone.
"This is hard to see and it's hard to hear and consume but there's a lot of love out there as well, so lean into the community."