Brianna Ghey’s murder has exposed sick corporate media opportunism after it peddled years of anti-trans hate

A sign saying trans kids deserve to live at a memorial for Brianna Ghey
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Brianna Ghey’s murder, allegedly at the hands of two other young people, has shocked many and left trans, and wider LGBTQ+ communities, scared and angry. Two teenagers, both aged 15, allegedly murdered her on Saturday 11 February in Cheshire. The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has charged them both with murder and they’ll stand trial in July.

Brianna’s friends have been amplifying the fact that Brianna was a trans girl. However, initially police said they had no evidence it was a hate crime – to the concern of many – but they then changed this to say they were exploring all lines of inquiry. Friends of Brianna have also alleged that bullies targeted her for years prior to her murder, because she was trans. This hatred is endemic in wider society.

In recent years, the corporate media and government have helped whip-up a baseless storm around transgender people. Now, even in the wake of Brianna’s murder some outlets have continued to publish anti-trans content in line with a consistent agenda. Moreover, other media organisations suddenly seem opportunistically concerned about trans rights – after doing everything in their power to feed the anti-trans frenzy.

Corporate media: continuing transphobic agendas

In recent years, much of the corporate media has been stoking the moral panic around trans people. Dr Gina Gwenffrewi from the University of Edinburgh noted in a study that:

The explosion in the number of stories about trans issues since the late 2010s, published by a UK legacy media largely devoid of trans voices and related specialist knowledge, has seen coverage deemed “aggressive and damaging” against transgender people. Such trans testimonies, registering their distress at the negativity of the coverage by the UK legacy media, are supported by the findings of a number of international bodies such as the Council of Europe (2021) and ILGA Europe (2021) which claim the UK’s legacy media has been contributing to the demonization of the country’s transgender community.

The murder of Brianna has only emphasised this – with much of the corporate media either poorly reporting on her, or being openly transphobic. For example, at first, many outlets failed to say Brianna was trans – although some sites updated their articles later. The Trans Journalists Association guidance does state that media outlets shouldn’t “identify someone as trans unless it’s relevant”.

However, in this instance it was clear at the time that Brianna’s murder may well be related to her being trans. So, the corporate media should have said she was. Meanwhile, despite Brianna’s murder, outlets like the Telegraph continued to publish anti-trans content – running an article on 14 February targeting NHS treatment centre the Tavistock clinic. It, as well as the Independent, covered trans-exclusionist JK Rowling appearing on a podcast to defend her transphobic views – again, just days after Brianna was killed.

Read on...

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Moreover, some outlets showed no compassion or respect for Brianna at all.

The Times: deadnaming Brianna

As the Trans Safety Network tweeted, the Times changed its article to put Brianna’s deadname in. This is fundamentally wrong, hurtful, and disrespectful of Brianna. As the Trans Journalists Association noted around the demeaning and violent reporting of deadnames:

A trans person’s given or former name that they no longer use, also often referred to as a “given name” or “legal name.” There’s never a reason to publish someone’s deadname in a story.

Clearly, the Times knew this – as it then changed the article again, removing Brianna’s deadname. As one Twitter user summed up:

Even in a tragic, horrifying death, trans people don’t get afforded the dignity of being known as who they were

This was a choice by the Times, clearly aimed at devaluing Brianna’s life b/c she’s trans. This is the attitude & the hate these outlets want to stir. Utterly shameful.

The Times has been one of the most transphobic media outlets in the UK recently. As Gwenffrewi noted in terms of the outlet’s coverage of Stonewall (which was under attack for its support for trans people):

[Rupert] Murdoch media empire’s broadsheet Times / Sunday Times between 2020-2022 produced approximately 178 stories in which Stonewall was featured, with 47 of those being centred on how Stonewall’s actions – indeed, its existence – are damaging to UK society.

Meanwhile, other areas of the media showed breathtaking hypocrisy in their reporting on Brianna’s murder.

Tabloid hypocrisy and the Guardian

The Daily Mail and the Sun ran two articles each on the bullying other children subjected Brianna to. However, both outlets have previously promoted transphobic content. For example, the Sun ran an offensive headline about a trans couple’s marriage. It also published a grotesque frontpage back in 2017 about Drag Queen Story Time. The article discussed “men in women’s clothing… teaching kids as young as two” about LGBTQ+ issues”. Similarly, the Daily Mail has repeatedly published anti-trans content – from manipulated stories about trans health issues to defending transphobes. Therefore, these outlets suddenly showing concern over Brianna’s murder was opportunistic and disingenuous.

So, what of the Guardian? It has extensively reported on Brianna’s murder. However, it too has repeatedly published anti-trans content. For example, take the Guardian‘s stance on Stonewall. Gwenffrewi noted in the study that:

Between 2020 and 2022, and in contrast to the rest of the progressive legacy media, the Guardian has with increasing consistency begun to emulate the frame used by the Times / Sunday Times to portray the UK’s largest LGBT+ charity as a negative force in society. Without replicating the frequency of negative stories, it does maintain the negative framing and key themes of delegitimisation.

One example was a Guardian report on Stonewall featuring comment from transphobic writers Germaine Greer and Julie Bindel. As Gwenffrewi noted, the article failed to frame the two as:

trans-exclusionists referenced in the article, whose history of crude and delegitimising condemnations of trans identity goes unmentioned.

Instead, as Gwenffrewi wrote, the Guardian:

attributes aggressiveness to the marginalized minority and its advocates, against the depiction of calm and responsible good intentions for experienced and derogatory exponents of anti-trans activism.

Does the media shoulder the blame for trans hate?

So, it’s clear that there are transphobic agendas at play among much of the media. This then has real-world effects. For example, the day after the two teenagers allegedly murdered Brianna, neo-Nazi group Patriotic Alternative targeted a drag queen story time event at the Tate. So, as Gwenffrewi wrote:

this can be blamed on the elitist composition of the UK legacy media, and its ideological commitment to protecting the status quo. Through an absence of diversity and specialised knowledge, particularly in relation to the reporting on marginalised identities, the result is that those who shape the narrative about trans people are not trans themselves, but instead those who through their ignorance contribute to their marginalisation.

Yet why do the same media then offer-up sympathetic stories for Brianna?

These outlets are using Brianna’s murder to capitalise on, via clicks and advertising, the very moral panic they helped foment. It’s unfathomable given their previous coverage that they are concerned that Brianna may have been murdered because she was trans. Nor do these outlets have sympathy for her. It’s more likely that the corporate media are opportunistically using the public furore about trans people, exploiting Brianna’s horrific killing, and cynically squeezing every last drop of coverage they can – simply for revenue.

A mirror onto the state – but one that enables it, too

As if that weren’t horrifying enough, there’s more going on here. The media is also painting the anti-trans hate people showed towards Brianna during her life as somehow exceptional – when in reality, that very same media has helped dehumanise trans people to the extent that hate crime has rocketed. Moreover, media outlets’ feigning of care for Brianna ring hollow when juxtaposed with their own coverage of trans communities. The government and state are the drivers of policy for trans communities. However, it’s the media whose self-appointed task it is to sell the discrimination and hate to society at large, and normalise the dehumanisation. Put simply, the media has normalised transphobia to such a degree that their faux concern at Brianna’s killing is shameful and sickening. However much they would like to protest to the contrary, their reporting has brought us here.

The UK media is toxic for trans people, as it is for all of the communities the system marginalises. However, it merely serves as a mirror onto the state and those in power – also responsible for anti-trans hatred. Brianna’s horrific murder against this backdrop has shown that the corporate media has done, and continues to, play its part in the despicable transphobia that may have killed her.

Featured image via the The Mirror – YouTube screenshot

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  • Show Comments
    1. Steve, I have often agreed with your articles in the past by but may have to end my financial contribution to the Canary.
      What you call “anti trans hate” is people expressing concern over men in women’s spaces such as changing rooms, women’s prisons and women’s sports. Not to mention the unethical practices of the Tavistock Center.
      If Brianna Ghey’s killing is a hate crime, than the person most to blame (apart from her killers) would be Isla Bryson, or to commit the “transphobic” offence of using her dead name, Adam Graham. His Lawyer probably got the Idea to make him “trans” as a result of the Gender Recognition Bill, and it only became newsworthy because the Gender recognition Act had passed.
      Isla Bryson being sent to a women’s prison caused uproar only because the GRA was unpopular, and the reason it was unpopular down to Trans rights activists.
      Whenever questions were asked about predatory men in women’s spaces such as changing rooms or women’s prisons such as Isla Bryson or Tiffany Scott (formally Andrew Burns), they were denounced as Transphobic, leading many to believe that Trans rights activists were led by predatory men.
      Also, whenever people raised concerns about children being groomed into life changing surgery either at school or by groups such as mermaids, they were also denounced as transphobic, leading many to believe that trans rights activists are also child groomers.
      The rape threats and death threats did not help their cause. There were even death threats against detransitioners, some of whom transitioned in their teens.
      The press were only starting to do their job of finally reporting the news, and to refer to the Guardian as “transphobic” is like a Zionist calling the BBC anti Israeli.
      Yes, a lot of hate has been stoked, but it is the Trans rights activist who have been stoking it, instead of having a sensible discussion.
      The GRA has not only set Scottish independence back (thanks guys) but it has set Trans rights back even further.

    2. I agree wholeheartedly with the comment above.

      I support the right of trans people to live in their correct gender. But I am also aware that in the human species there are malicious individuals who will attempt to game any system available to them, and that such people tend to be found in higher density in the criminal justice system, and therefore obviously, whatever we might want to be the case, there always obviously needed to be some specific limitations on self-ID in prisons. For this I’ve been called a transphobe, a bigot and a fascist, and accordingly, I no longer feel that the organised trans movement is acting in the best interests of trans people.

      Whenever I’ve made such comments I’ve done so anonymously, as I also know two people, colleagues from unrelated workplaces, who have been cancelled. In the sense that they have lost their jobs and will never be employed in any related industry again, have been ostracised by their friends, publicly branded as fascist sympathisers. These people, not famous people, not rich people, have lost their livelihoods for expressing opinions that in hindsight, are very much validated by the Bryson case. One of them had to ask her son to move out so she could take in lodgers, this is the only form of income now available to her. If I know two people, then how many more instances are there? But any mention of cancellation brings furious denials from the movement. It isn’t a thing! Only fascists believe in it!

      I have had younger colleagues asking me, “how the f@&* can we address this issue safely?”, to which the only possible answer is, don’t, avoid it like the plague, when forced to engage, chant all the mantras perfectly. Keep your head down and do as you’re told. There’s no actual need to argue against this movement: it will collapse under its own momentum, as has already begun to happen.

      How have we reached a point where both parties think they stand to gain electorally by attacking trans people? Why is the number of voices in their defence dwindling? For a start, because you’ve cancelled them all. Both the people mentioned above were lifetime gender rights activists. Both of them have worked, fought, marched, in some cases physically putting themselves in danger to protect trans people. Both heavily socialist, and of course accused of fascism. So they’re not in the ranks any more, and nor am I, and nor at the other younger professionals coming through, who have witnessed people they respect being taken down for their integrity.

      Cui bono? Not trans people, that’s for sure. If your objective is to increase visibility in a positive way, then why not just tell stories in libraries and ditch the eroticised dance routine? Why create unnecessary conflict, unless that’s the intention? This issue has been used to confuse and fragment the left. It’s had off feminism, damaged the image of Stonewall, ripped apart the SNP, broken political correctness and identity politics, and made the culture war look much less like piers Morgan’s fantasy and more like reality. And for the first time in a century or more the apparently inexorable growth of equality and tolerance has begun to roll backwards.

      The best benefit for trans people would be achieved by listening to constructive criticism, to avoid predictable crises like the Isla/Adam Bryson case (I genuinely don’t even know what’s the accepted way of referring to her/him now!); and by reducing unnecessary confrontation, to keep the maximum number of people in the tent. Because you can cancel people off social media, or delete their comments from a website, but you cannot stop them voting in the election, and every cancellation creates a ring of people around the target who will also never vote with you again, and this is essentially why both parties know that they will gain votes by attacking trans people.

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