Southampton Vigil for Brianna Ghey – Friday 17 Feb 2023

Last night the people of Southampton held a vigil for Brianna Ghey, a transgender girl who was murdered on 11 February in Cheshire.

You can watch the livestream here on People’s Pride Southampton Facebook page (thanks Bik for setting up the livestream) including local speakers from the trans community and music from musicians Beck Lombardi and Devin Valentine of Hunting Hearts and Pip Summers.

Nic Beck, a trans woman, one of our Moving Voices regular poets and an Art House volunteer, has kindly allowed us to republish her words from the vigil (thanks Devin for reading these at the vigil as Nic was isolating with Covid):

Over to Nic

Hi everyone

I would welcome you all, but, let’s face it, none of us wants to be here tonight.

No one wants to get together in vigil for the death of a 16 year old girl, stabbed and left to die in a park.

No one wants to be sending our love to her family and friends at the loss of her light in their lives

No one wants to be angry that this has happened

No one wants to be scared that this could happen in our lives, to our family or friends, or to us.

No one wants to read the press stories from outlets alternately hand-wringing about a child being killed and deadnaming her as they struggle with a family who look like their readers but don’t share their owners’ hateful viewpoint

No one wants to read the comments from the “he’ll be buried as a boy” brigade

No one wants to be privately wondering if this much publicity would be generated if Brianna had been a 19 yo black sex worker, estranged from her family

No one wants to be thinking about how it is that two 15 year old children can find themselves allegedly the perpetrators of this awful crime

But here we all are.

So maybe we can take this time to think about why we are here, and what we all need

I can only speak for me in this – you will all have your own thoughts, and I hope that you will share them with us, but these are mine:

I am here to give and to receive support

I am here to give and to feel love, in this, my community, and elsewhere for, and from, all my fellow people. For whatever happens I believe that all lives are worthy of love, all lives have rights, all lives deserve life.

I am here to spread the message that even in these darkest hours we will do well to remember that we are winning. A dying beast always fights back hardest at the end. There is always an extinction burst. They scream loudest, and are most dangerous, when they realise that they have already lost.

For Brianna, at 16, was able to recognise who she was, and felt able to be her true self, to let her light shine. And, though the bullies and the weak will always pick on the unique and the different, most people don’t. Most people want to live and let live.

And what do I need?

I need to remember that Brianna belongs to her family and friends. My grief is a shadow of theirs, and their grief must not be abused by my words and actions.

I need to remember that her community needs space and privacy to come to terms with their worst fear being realised – that she has been taken away from them.

I need to be clear that right now I do not *know* why two 15 yo children have been charged with this murder.

I need to accept that the Police are the only ones who can investigate this, and that the CPS are the only ones who can present the case in July. Then, and only then will I learn why they believe that this has happened.

I need to ensure that in calling this a “hate crime” before any proof of that is gathered I may be opening a door for those who vilify and belittle trans folks to say “we told you so” if this technicality of law cannot be proven, like it so often can’t be.

I need to remember that this will potentially cause immense pain and grief and shame and guilt to the families and friends of those 15 yo children too. No one, no one, wins from this.

But I can still be angry.

I can still point out, over and over and over again that if you light fires, people get burned.

If you allow the press and populist politicians to vilify and deny the existence of any disadvantaged group then there are some who will take that as a tacit approval for violence.

If you dehumanise *any* group, you enable this.

And *anyone*, *any* act, that dehumanises *any* group, is as guilty of the crimes that follow as those weak bullies who commit the atrocities themselves.

And I say enough.

I wrote this poem a few months ago, when Brianna still lit the lives of those who knew her well.

This is for you Brianna, may you rest in power

“This Voice”

This voice
This voice you hear before you
This voice that I use to scream at you, to beg you to see me at least as human
This voice that betrays me every day – even masked it gives me away

This voice

This voice that you deaf ear
This voice you deny
This voice that you lie about, vilify, belittle, throw under a bus

This voice

This voice that you say scares you so much
This voice that points out that you’re no feminist
This voice that calls out your facist backers and their misogynistic plans
This voice that says that all life is precious, worthy of saving

This voice

This voice in the darkness that you are trying to craft

This voice that just wants to live, to pee in peace, to walk the streets safely
This voice that wants to sing

This voice

This voice that calls to other voices
This voice that will stand until it can stand no more
Shoulder to shoulder with the other voices that you target

This voice that says no more

No more lies
No more killing
No more using us to distract people while you line your pockets with profit from their labour.
No more excuses
No more

Because this voice
This voice that I hate so much

This voice says


About janifranck

Artist, activist, founding director of The Art House in Southampton.
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