Campaigners who set up a petition in the wake of Brianna Ghey’s death have been left "outraged" after it was rejected.
After the transgender schoolgirl was found dead in Culcheth’s Linear Park, on Saturday, February 11, campaigners came together to call on the government to give the teenager the “dignity she deserves". Activists, members of the trans community and its allies asked the government to give the Year 11 Birchwood Community High School pupil a posthumous Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC).
This was because, under the current UK law, only those who are 18 and over are able to obtain a GRC - which allows a trans person’s gender to be recorded on birth, death and marriage certificates - and Brianna was killed when she was only 16 years old.
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In light of this, the campaign #DiginityForBrianna was created and what followed was a petition which has now been signed over 13,000 times. A day after mourners gathered in pink at St Elphin’s Church in Warrington to pay their respects to Brianna, the government issued a response to the campaign.
The response detailed how the government believes the Gender Recognition Act 2004 is “effective, strikes the right balance and allows for those who will to legally change their sex”. The government also added it had “no plans” to change the act - which campaigners have long called outdated.
The government reiterated how the process does not allow for third-party applications “as any application will be a deeply personal undertaking and choice”, leading campaigners to believe Brianna won’t “get the dignity she deserves”.
Merseyside-based campaigner, Mimi - not her real name - who started the campaign, #DiginityForBrianna, told the ECHO how their fight wasn’t over just yet.
The 32-year-old said: “I'm completely disappointed with the government's response, it lacks compassion and basic humanity. This isn’t about striking balance, this is about dignity in death. We will continue fighting for the law to be changed because it is about dignity, that's something everyone should be able to have in death.”
Torran Nathaniel Turner, the 32-year-old trans man who created the online petition expressed a similar sentiment.
The IT engineer from Manchester told the ECHO: “I'm outraged. The response doesn't tackle the actual proposal in any meaningful way and is the government equivalent of slamming the door in the faces of trans people and their families, again.
“I'm urging everyone to push this proposal further and try and help us reach 100,000 signatures to force a Parliamentary debate so this actually gets consideration, rather than a stock response that pays lip service to compassion and respect before failing to demonstrate either quality.”
“Larger-than-life” Brianna was remembered on Wednesday, March 15, by her family and friends as she was laid to rest. A white horse-drawn carriage adorned in pink arrived at the funeral and songs such as Lana Del Ray’s Video Games and Amazing Grace were played.
A trial date for two teenagers - a boy and a girl, both 15 - who are accused of Brianna's murder has been set for July 10 and is estimated to last three weeks.
The Cabinet Office’s full response to the petition:
“As announced in 2020, we believe the Gender Recognition Act 2004 is effective, strikes the right balance and allows for those who wish to legally change their sex. We have no plans to change it.
“We recognise the sensitivity of these situations, particularly when family and friends are dealing with the loss of a loved one, or when someone is diagnosed with a terminal illness. The Government recognises that, in this context, many would have instinctively supported this petition.
“The Government is also committed to upholding Britain’s long-standing record of protecting the rights of individuals against unlawful discrimination and wants people who are transgender to be able to live their lives as they wish.
“In 2018, the then Government launched a consultation on reforming the Gender Recognition Act (GRA) 2004. The debate around this consultation was intense and it received more than 100,000 responses.
“As part of the consultation process and since it closed, considerable work went into meeting with approximately 140 representative organisations, including transgender and women's organisations. The GRA is an important issue and we wanted to ensure it was fully considered and all opinions were heard.
“As announced in September 2020, we believe the current provisions in the GRA are effective and allow for those who wish to legally change their sex. The processes in place reflect the right checks and balances.
“Everyone who decides to undergo a change in how their legal sex is recorded deserves our respect, support and compassion. The process of changing one’s legal sex is a serious and legally meaningful undertaking which requires appropriate checks and a level of formality.
“The process does not allow for third-party applications as any application will be a deeply personal undertaking and choice. Applicants must also meet a range of requirements set out in the Act, including that the applicant be over 18. We believe the legislation strikes the right balance and have no plans to change it.”
The Government Equalities Office previously confirmed to the Liverpool ECHO they “don’t comment on individual applications for a Gender Recognition Certificate” and “certificates are only available to people over 18".
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