What we know about Briana Gay's murder

What we know about Briana Gay's murder, I wanted to write about Rihanna this week—her Super Bowl pregnancy reveal,

Feb 14, 2023 - 21:51
Feb 15, 2023 - 22:52
What we know about Briana Gay's murder
What we know about Briana Gay's murder

I wanted to write about Rihanna this week—her Super Bowl pregnancy reveal, her red riding hood-at-burgundy outfit, the sheer balls-out confidence of a 13-minute halftime performance without a cameo from a former collaborator (I had it all for Eminem). I also wanted to write about love this Valentine's week. Let me tell you a disturbing but ultimately benign anecdote about my 10-year relationship with my husband. I used to glamorize the silly little rituals of love, dating, while reminding you that being single isn't so bad, you're complete without your so-called other half, because your love for yourself is the most important one. I wanted to summarize this week the return of inaccessible hyper-thinness as Ozympic and the new status symbol that now anyone can afford face fillers and waist trainers (all, made in 600 silly words). I used to wax lyrical about seemingly trivial things, aiming for their deep cultural import, but something else happened instead. On Saturday afternoon, in broad daylight, a 16-year-old girl was stabbed to death in a British park.

I don't know where to begin with my take on Brianna Gay's murder, how my limited knowledge of the crime intersects with a sense of foreboding deep within my guts, events, and feelings. The crime is unspeakable, and yet I am desperate to talk through it, to understand it. I know that Briana Gheke was found lying in the park with stab wounds. I know that two 15-year-olds have been arrested on suspicion of Brianna Gay's murder. I do know, according to her family's quietly devastated statement, that Brianna Gay was "a much-loved daughter, granddaughter and baby sister." I know, as we all know now, that Briana Gay was a trans woman.

I know we can't—or shouldn't—immediately connect Brianna's horrific attack to her gender identity. I know all lines of inquiry are being pursued and police are treating the stabbing as a possible hate crime. I think the term is potentially doing a lot of heavy lifting here. But you don't have to be Columbo to feel like this was a transphobic murder. I won't speculate on the events that led to Brianna's fatal attack in particular, but we are all too aware of how deeply trans discourse has permeated society. I know quite a binary camp has been drawn, that the concept of fundamental rights is being denied by both sides. I wonder how well feminism itself is served by splitting hairs over what it actually means to be a woman.

Discussions about safe spaces—should sanctuaries be segregated by sex?—are ongoing, but I keep thinking about Brianna. Surely there are few places safer than the park on a sunny afternoon? I don't want to use her death to score political points, but I hope some militant single-sex advocates consider how important Brianna's chromosomes were when she needed help. Denying someone access to security based on such arbitrary genetic factors still seems inexcusably cruel to me.

I know we can easily distract ourselves from bad things, especially when consuming information on a screen. We can keep scrolling when we see a bad take or a national resource sounding off about the dangers trans people impose on cis. Unregulated online discourse where transphobia runs rampant is not responsible for Briana's death; It's not easy. But the almost constant questioning of trans rights reinforces the idea that trans men and women are trying to fool us, deceiving us that their deeply personal gender identities are an affront to the status quo and how we live. The constant trans so-called debate turns the rich lives of trans people into a slate of statistics in a homogenous group of numbers. Online free-range transphobia encourages haters, it encourages hate, and we need to call it out every time we see it. Scrolling past means engaging. Agreeing with hate speech and doing nothing about it condones it. Eating the nice parts of an apple does not remove the stain. Feelings and facts are part of human bickering, and no place brings the two together like Twitter, where people can be very passionate about completely wrong, conjectured information.

I feel terrible for a family who lost their young daughter in such an incredibly brutal way. I know they will never be the same. And I know, whether we like it or not, we're all somehow involved in the hate lobbying for trans people. We've all closed our eyes at times. And that makes us all criminals.

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