Fri 10 Mar 2023 — 9 min

Editor's note - more examples continue to pour in of this disrespect for a trans girl's life being taken, including from high profile figures. The following coverage is indicative rather than exhaustive

Labour MP Jess Phillips has been subject to significant backlash by ‘gender critical’ activists for including Brianna Ghey, a 16-year-old trans girl recently killed in Warrington, to the list of femicides which Phillips reads out in Parliament annually for International Women’s Day.

Several gender critical organisations and individuals instigated a pile-on of Phillips to ‘judge’ her for including Brianna Ghey’s death on the list, claiming that her inclusion was ‘an insult to the memory of the women and children tragically killed this year’.

Two part tweet by Jean Hatchet (@JeanHatchet) - I am furious, actually livid, that the list of women killed by men since IWD 2022 painstakingly assembled by Karen Ingala Smith and full of women needing to be honoured, was read out by Jess Phillips who saw fit to make an addition of her own. And she thinks we can't say anything. But we judge you. We know what you did today. Femicide is a crime with meaning. The perpetrators and victims have a sex and that sex matters deeply to this crime. If you want to perform "something @jessphillips- this was not the place to do it. Unfollow me if you must.

Tweet by Women's Rights Network (@WomensRightsNet) - We support the work of @K_IngalaSmith & @CountDeadWomen who remember, count & name the women who have been killed by men. This list was read out in Parliament today by @jessphillips. We are appalled at Jess Phillips politicisation of the death of a young person by reading out their name at the end. We believe it was insensitive of her to include this death on the list. Many children & young people have been killed this year with no recognition of them. This action is an insult to the memory of the women and children tragically killed this year.

The backlash included prominent and far-right associated ‘gender critical’ campaigner Kellie-Jay Keen, who recently called for the removal of access to contraceptive medication and abortion for minors.

Tweet by Kellie-Jay Keen (@ThePosieParker) She added a boy to the Counting Dead Women list. What a careerist sham of a woman @jessphillips is. Even in death we do not have a place of our own. Thanks to @EcuadorianMum for the clip.

Some, such as Safe Schools Alliance, justified their opposition to Brianna’s inclusion as a rejection of the politicisation of her death. Of course, when as trans girl is killed in an atmosphere of unprecedented moral repugnance towards trans people, and is actively misgendered by prominent ‘gender critical’ figures after her death, it is difficult to understand how her death could be considered anything other than political.

It is also deeply concerning that Safe Schools Alliance - an organisation which purportedly ‘campaigns to uphold child safeguarding in schools’ - decided to make a comment so far out of their remit, and in favour of failing to recognise the lived gender of a dead trans school child.

Tweet by Safe Schools Alliance (@SafeSchools_UK) Did she really? Did she really politicise the tragic death of a child like that?

Tweet by Safe Schools Alliance (@SafeSchools_UK) Did she really? Did she really politicise the tragic death of a child like that?

Whilst some were able to refraining from actively misgendering a dead trans girl, instead opting for phrases such as ‘child’ an ‘young person’, most participants in the dogpile were simply unable to help themselves. This amounts to only a minute sample of the vast number of comments misgendering Brianna within the pile-on. Brianna was described frequently as ‘male’, a ‘boy’, a ‘lad’, and even as a ‘bloke’.

Tweet by Kat @RadGamerKat - Murdered women can't even be mourned without including males anymore.

Tweet from Progressive Misogyny (@JustMisogyny) - The female victims get 1 second each. The male victim gets 10 seconds. And look at the vocal virtue signalling at 06:50. JFC Jess, what have you done?

Tweet by genderatheist KPSS (@genderatheist3) - I hear you included a boy on this list, why?

Tweet by Stefanie (@st3ff_moses) - Shane [sic] on you. Big shame! Women are born not worn. That young lad should never have been included in the list and you know it! Stop gaslighting women!!!!

Tweet by Stevie-Oi (@PoppyFatherCult) - Didn’t you add a bloke into the list that wasn’t there ? [sic]

Others criticised Phillips for adding a boy’s ‘fake name’ to the list, referencing the fact that trans people, including Brianna, often change their names upon transition. This deeply transphobic framing implies that Brianna’s deadname should be regarded her ‘real’ name.

Tweet by Rachel Bosenterfer (@RachelK01840150) - @jessphillips couldn't resist adding a boy's fake name to this list, thereby rendering the whole exercise meaningless. Always suspected it was an attention-grabbing stunt. Shame on you, you careerist quisling. #LabourLosingWomen

Cassandra Grace (@MalleyNotAgain) - Did you include the fake name of a 16 year old boy? If so it's even more clear for all to see that you are using this work done by women, to remember women, as a vanity project. Fuck you, fuck your vanity projects and fuck you using murdered women once a year to gain votes.

One gender-critical went to so far to accuse Phillips as centring the reading on the ‘affirmation of males’. It is difficult to understand how Brianna Ghey would have benefited from such affirmation, given she is dead.

Tweet by Debs (@biologycounts) - This should have been about women victims, not the affirmation of males. Jess Phillips is a men’s rights activist.

Others claimed that it was wrong to include Brianna Ghey within the list because the Trans Day of Remembrance (or Trans Day of Visibility) already exist. However, of course, being trans does not exclude you from every other category of marginalisation you fall into. Would trans names be unacceptable on a list of dead disabled people? Brianna Ghey was as much a woman as any other on that list, regardless of her also being trans.

Tweet by katosauras (@katbalmy) - Politicised a young person's death. She could have discussed this in a debate on knife crime which is a massive issue in the UK or named Brianna on trans day of remembrance but no she just had to use a child.. Abhorrent

Tweet by Girlforegone (@girlforegone) - A list of womens names. Women murdered by men. A list created to highlight an issue faced by women You decide to talk about a boy, a teenage boy tragically killed by other teenagers. Something you could have waited until the 31st of March- Trans Day of Visibility - to highlight

Two tweets by Woman's Place UK (@Womans_Place_UK) -  (1) Question about Jess Phillips MP mention of Brianna Ghey following reading of women killed by men today in parliament. Onjali Rauf had not heard it in the chamber, but notes that @K_IngalaSmith is very clear that @CountDeadWomen is counting female victims #WPUKWinning (2) It's not appropriate - there is a day to honour trans victims - which is right #WPUKWinning

The source of the original list @CountingDeadWomen is headed by Dr Karen Ingala Smith, a vocal gender critical activist who has been clear that trans women will never be included on her list. The addition was therefore made deliberately by Jess Phillips. As a result, Dr Smith has liked tweets disparaging Phillips for her inclusion of Brianna Ghey.

A screenshot showing Dr Karen Ingala Smith liking a tweet by WPUK condemning Jess Phillips for mentioning Brianna Ghey in the list of women killed by men, contrary to Karen Ingala Smith being ‘very clear that @CountDeadWomen is counting female victims’

The choice to include Brianna Ghey has generated significant backlash against Phillips. Although Phillips reads the list every year, there have been many calls for list to be read by a different woman who can be trusted, with some suggesting outspoken gender critical Labour MP Rosie Duffield as a potential alternative. At least one twitter user has claimed that they have made a complaint to the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner as a result of Phillips’s choice to include Ghey.

Tweet by Majorie Hutchins (@leakylike) - Next year this should be done by a female MP with more integrity than Jess Phillips One who doesn't exploit a child's murder Or disrespect this vital work of recording femicide in UK For her own gains Shameful on #InternationalWomensDay Boys are not women

Tweet by MaryBCH (@maryBCHR) quote tweeting Jean Hatchet’s post about Jess Phillips - I have complained to the commissioner for standards in Parliament. This is hijacking a set of criteria for political ends.

Tweet by MaryBCH (@maryBCHR) quote tweeting Jean Hatchet’s post about Jess Phillips - I have complained to the commissioner for standards in Parliament. This is hijacking a set of criteria for political ends.

It is deeply concerning that transphobic rhetoric in this country is so prevalent and so vile that gender critical activists feel bold enough to jump on the grave of a dead child in the deeply upsetting ways outlined above. All this as a result of Brianna being paid the most minimum respect, in way that has no impact on these campaigners lives.

This is not about single-sex spaces or safeguarding - there is no way to be trans which is not an affront to them. This pile on shows the entire movement for what it is - a vicious attack rooted in the hatred of trans people and our community, even our dead children.