Briana Ghey with chocolate in hand

Warrington Police/Twitter

A push to blame ‘social media addiction’ for Brianna Ghey’s murder faces backlash from the trans community

A series of interviews by Ghey's mom is being criticized.


Tricia Crimmins


Posted on Feb 20, 2024   Updated on Feb 20, 2024, 4:44 pm CST

Esther Ghey, the mother of a trans teen that was murdered last year in the U.K., told the Independent that she believes social media addiction is responsible in part for her daughter’s death.

But many online say her comments are incorrectly shifting the blame

In February 2023, trans TikToker Brianna Ghey was murdered in Warrington, England. Earlier this month, teens Scarlett Jenkinson and Eddie Ratcliffe were sentenced to 22 and 20 years in jail, respectively, after being found guilty of killing Ghey. Jenkinson and Ratcliffe plotted to kill Ghey, stabbed her almost 30 times, and left her lifeless body in a Warrington Park.

A year after her daughter’s murder, Esther Ghey spoke with multiple U.K. news outlets about how she wants cell phone companies to “take more responsibility for children’s welfare.” She told the Independent that Brianna was addicted to social media, which she said in an interview with the BBC made her vulnerable.

“Brianna struggled with her mental health,” Ghey said in an interview with the Independent. “Brianna was addicted to her phone.”

At the time of her murder, Ghey was a popular TikToker, with over 63,000 followers. Ghey claims that her daughter was struggling acutely with her mental health, though, which she feels made Brianna a target for murder.

Brianna’s murder is not considered a hate crime, as perpetrators Jenkinson and Ratcliffe were motivated “by an unhealthy fascination with murder and torture.”

In the wake of Ghey’s comments, many trans folks have taken to X to express their frustration with the media hyping up her blame of social media, in part, for Brianna’s death.

Social media can often be a lifeline for trans teens who can find community and support online—especially if they aren’t able to at home. In the wake of Ghey’s death, there was an outpouring of support online from her followers.

“It genuinely sucks that Brianna’s well meaning parents are being used for a misguided media censorship campaign,” trans creator Cloudy wrote on X, “that will only lead to more vulnerable trans kids suffering in isolation instead of helping them.”

Trans YouTuber Caelen Conrad likened Ghey’s position on social media to that of anti-trans parents, who believe social media is responsible for making their children transgender.

“The best thing for Esther is to grieve and heal, she’s experienced an unfathomable loss. On this topic she’s not an expert, she’s not correct, and she’s supporting the same talking points that anti-trans parents are,” Conrad tweeted. “This will only hurt trans kids, not help.”

Eirnin Jefferson Franks, a trans activist and historian, said that social media’s role in Brianna’s murder actually has more to do with the teens who murdered her than Brianna.

“Social media played a role in Brianna’s murder: it’s where the radicalisation of Brits into transphobia is taking place,” Franks tweeted. “This hotbed has influenced press, media, politics. That created the environment for her murderer to think she should kill a trans girl.”

Despite Franks claim, there’s no definitive proof Ghey’s murderers were motivated by anti-trans hate. But transphobia is considered rampant in the English government and press: Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has made many transphobic comments, including in front of Ghey’s mother.

“So, let me get this right. instead of taking the horrific murder of Brianna Ghey and using it to be like ‘hmm maybe the transphobia we publish is a bad thing?’ the british media is pulling a principle skinner and going ‘no its the kids being on them dang phones!’ summed up one user.

Ghey has also spoken out against anti-trans hate online, calling it “horrendous” and saying social media companies need to do more to prevent its spread.

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*First Published: Feb 20, 2024, 4:43 pm CST