Brianna Ghey’s mother remembers murdered daughter’s ‘fearlessness’ and praises ‘outstanding’ trans community

‘I’m trying to be a bit more like Brianna because she was happy being who she was,’ teen’s mother says

Tara Cobham
Saturday 23 December 2023 19:05 GMT
Brianna Ghey’s headteacher pays tribute to ‘determined and fearless’ student

“Fearless” is the word those who knew Brianna Ghey reach for when paying tribute to the transgender teenager, as they try to grapple with her brutal killing.

The 16-year-old’s mother has celebrated her fearlessness in being “whoever she wanted to be”, while the schoolgirl’s headteacher, Emma Mills, described her as “loud and proud and confident in who she was”. A boy and a girl were this week convicted of her murder following the fatal knife attack in a Cheshire Park in February.

Brianna’s mother, Esther Ghey, has also praised the “outstanding” trans community for their support following her daughter’s death, which led to an outpouring of grief earlier this year.

Brianna’s mother Esther Ghey has also praised the ‘outstanding’ trans community for their support (Esther Ghey)

Speaking to The Independent ahead of the trial, Ms Ghey, 36, described her daughter’s coming out as “not really a big issue” and her transition aged 14 as quite gradual. Brianna started letting her hair grow long, wearing make-up, and then told her family that she wanted to change her pronouns, Ms Ghey explained, and she stressed it was not a hurdle for her daughter.

“As long as your children are happy, then you’ll do whatever you need to do to help them,” she said.

Ms Ghey explained that she was very close to Brianna and her older daughter as she had been a single parent for much of the girls’ childhoods. Their tight-knit family was shattered on 11 February this year when police appeared at Ms Ghey’s door to tell her that her child had been found stabbed to death in Linear Park in Culcheth, a village near their hometown of Warrington, Cheshire.

Two teenagers have been found guilty of murdering Brianna (PA)

“It’s the news that you would never, ever want to hear – it was completely shocking,” said Ms Ghey. “It was so tragic that I felt like I was going to die myself.”

As an introvert, Ms Ghey initially shied away from the intense interest in her daughter’s case. “But I’m trying to push myself to make a change, to be a bit more like Brianna, because she was confident and happy being who she was and putting herself out there,” she said.

The 16-year-old’s dream was to become famous on TikTok, and she loved to do make-up tutorials for her more than 31,000 followers on the social media platform. “She was very, very outgoing”, said Esther. “A very high-energy, funny, quick-witted child.”

While Cheshire Police do not believe that Brianna was killed because she was transgender, it will ultimately be up to the trial judge, Mrs Justice Yip, to decide if hatred of transgender people played any part in her death when the killers are sentenced in the new year.

Brianna mother Esther said she wants to be a ‘bit more like Brianna, because she was confident and happy being who she was and putting herself out there’ (PA)

Hundreds of mourners joined vigils across the UK to remember the schoolgirl after her shocking murder. Some of those gathered in her hometown wore rainbow flags draped across their shoulders as they laid flowers and wrote tributes on a placard that was placed in the town square.

Ms Ghey described the support as a comfort to her heartbroken family as they attempted to heal from the unimaginable in the months following Brianna’s death.

“The support from the trans community has been outstanding, and the general public as well,” she said.

The family has had to endure a harrowing four weeks during which a girl and a boy with a “thirst for killing” stood trial for Brianna’s murder at Manchester Crown Court.

The pair – currently only identified as girl X and boy Y, and who are both now 16 but were 15 at the time – were convicted on Wednesday of carrying out the “frenzied and ferocious” murder, and face mandatory life sentences. On Thursday, the judge ruled that an order banning the identification of the defendants, on the basis of their age, be lifted when they are sentenced on 2 February.

People leave floral tributes near the scene where 16-year-old Brianna was found with multiple stab wounds (Getty)

Speaking outside court on Wednesday, Ms Ghey said her daughter’s killers had not shown “an ounce of remorse”, and that she had therefore lost any sympathy she previously felt for them. “To know how scared my usually fearless child must have been when she was alone in that park with someone that she called her friend will haunt me for ever,” Ms Ghey added as she held back tears.

She finished her statement by saying her family would like to request “healing space” for the next few weeks, but she promised to be back at the end of January to continue campaigning for better mental health support for young people and their families.

Ms Ghey previously told The Independent she had launched the campaign in memory of her daughter, who suffered from poor mental health, including anxiety.

The Brianna Ghey: Peace in Mind appeal aims to raise money, partly via a GoFundMe fundraiser, for the Mindfulness in Schools Project (MiSP), with the mission of bringing mindfulness training into all UK schools.

“So many other young people are struggling with mental health issues nowadays,” said Ms Ghey, who has been practising mindfulness for eight years.

“It gave me that strength when such a tragedy did happen,” she said, referring to Brianna’s death. “And I want others to experience the benefits that I had.”

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