Vigil for Brianna Ghey, Southampton, February 17th

Vigil for Brianna Ghey, Southampton, February 17th

by Joy McKay.

On the 11th February Brianna Ghey, a young trans woman, was murdered in a park in Warrington. She was just 16. This terrible event has shocked and saddened many but particularly those in the trans community, their friends, family and allies who increasingly hear anti-trans rhetoric from mainstream media and politicians. This has even been evident in the reporting of Brianna’s murder, being deadnamed by both The Times and Sky News. 

Photo and top photo: People’s Pride Southampton.

In reaction to this tragedy more than 50 vigils have been organised this week, across England, to honour Brianna and express outrage. Last night (Friday 17th February) People’s Pride Southampton ( hosted Southampton’s event at The Queen’s Peace Fountain in East Park. Those who were not able to join in person could also participate virtually. The organisers have been subjected to online abuse during the week and were wary that there could be some disruptive visitors. As a result a crew of volunteers marshalled the event in order to ensure we were, and felt, safe. And for which I am very grateful.  

It was an emotionally difficult Friday night journey into town, vary aware of my purpose and destination. However I was surprised and uplifted when I arrived at the fountain to find hundreds of Southampton locals had gathered with lights and candles in order to think of Brianna and show support for our trans community. The vigil started with a two minute silence followed by invited speakers. Members of local band Hunting Hearts ( performed a short acoustic set whilst people gathered their thoughts at which point the microphone was opened up to anyone who wanted to speak. The range of who chose to do so was diverse from  young people of Brianna’s age to older people who are parents, trans folk and allies. The speakers often spoke of sadness but also sadly not of surprise, concerns of safety and about equity but mostly of hope and defiance.

Mabel Welman, chairwoman of People’s Pride Southampton, said this morning: “Its been very restoring to my good faith in people with the turn out at last night’s vigil for Brianna Ghey and the outpour of love and support for Brianna and one another.

“We had a large number of speakers from the public, sharing their words as parents, pupils, students, charity workers and one local councillor. I think they were all very brave to speak so truly as to how they feel with the large number of people who were able to attend in person and in spirit.”

As the Guildhall clock chimed seven, it all came to a close with some people lingering to share thoughts with friends, others gaining support offered by volunteers from charity Beyond Reflections. We all left thankful for our community and praying that we would never have to be returning for another vigil. 


If you in need of support for yourself, a friend or family member the following charities offer a variety of free services: 


Rest in Power Brianna.


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Photo: Joy McKay.
Photo: Joy McKay. T