Ugla Stefanía. Photo / Oddvar Hjartar

Brianna’s Death Was Caused By Transphobia – We Cannot Let That Happen In Iceland

OPINION Ugla Stefanía writes about the importance of combating anti-trans sentiments early, before they fester and lead to increased hate crimes and violent crimes.

On a chilly winters’ day on February the 11th 2023, a young trans girl named Brianna Ghey made her way to Culcheth Linear Park in Warrington, England – where she was meeting with two peers of hers from school. What she thought was a friendly meet-up with potential friends turned into her brutal and horrifying murder, where she was fatally stabbed in a premeditated attack.

Earlier this month, her murderers were sentenced to 20 and 22 years of prison for the murder – which rocked the whole of the UK for its particular brutality, and by the fact that it was in part motivated by the fact Brianna was a girl who happened to be trans.

The murderers used dehumanising language to refer to her in their communication before the murders, including messaging stating they wanted to know ‘whether it will scream like a man or a girl.’ During the trial proceedings it became obvious that they had indeed targeted Brianna because she was a vulnerable trans person.

While the two murderers were punished for the murder, their views on trans people do not exist in a vacuum. They were formed in an increasingly hostile climate that seems to have consumed UK media and politics. This is clearly depicted in increased hate crimes and violent attacks against trans people, that have reportedly risen by nearly 200% over the past five years.

So while Brianna’s murderers were held to account, the journalists, media outlets and politicians that continue to push anti-trans rhetoric every single day will continue to spread their hate and bigotry, while pretending that the hostile climate they have created is not partly to blame.

And while the media and political climate in Iceland is not nearly as hostile towards trans rights, and even though we have made great progress with legislations like The Gender Autonomy Act in 2019, it would be naive to claim transphobia is not a problem in Iceland.

In recent years the same talking points and rhetoric as we’ve seen in the UK have started to crop up in public debate more and more – and one politician has even claimed we should listen more to gender critical activists and public debate on trans issues in the UK.

As someone who lives in the UK part time, it is a horrifying prospect to me. How someone can look at the treatment of trans people in the UK and consider it a positive thing goes to show how bigotry and hatred bypasses all common sense and human decency.

It shows a complete lack of empathy and compassion for trans people – who are simply trying to get on with life and live their lives as themselves.

A few months ago a big furore was created in Iceland about LGBTQIA+ inclusive education and sex education – where critics made all sorts of outlandish claims, including that children were being taught BDSM and masturbation in school. We’ve increasingly seen more and more people make claims that trans people and LGBTQIA+ activists are ‘paedophiles’ who wish to ‘mutilate children’ and ‘trans the gay away’.

So while Brianna’s murderers were held to account, the journalists, media outlets and politicians that continue to push anti-trans rhetoric every single day will continue to spread their hate and bigotry, while pretending that the hostile climate they have created is not partly to blame.

While all these claims are obviously deeply wrong and misguided, it is obvious that facts are not important to those who peddle it, much like their gender critical siblings in the UK. They are instead led by misinformation, poorly disguised bigotry and disingenuous concern. Thankfully they have barely gained any traction in public debate in Iceland, and have largely been exposed as the hateful individuals they are.

As an outspoken activist I have been a target for them, where I’ve been encouraged to kill myself, called a paedophile and where they have theorised whether I have ‘cut my genitals off’, and how and who I have sex with and how disgusting it all is.

Outrageous and dehumanising claims have been made about my life, my body and my sexuality – all while the same individuals claim they are indeed not driven by hatred towards people like me.

On the back of this outrage they tried hosting ‘a freedom march’, which was not repeated after about only 15 people showed up to march in terrible weather. It revealed quite clearly that their campaign barely had any support at all, and it was largely just led by chronically online conspiracy theorists who spend far too much time on the internet.

But while these individual ‘activists’ in Iceland have not been very successful in their campaign, it’s important that we do not allow their ideology to fester and spread further. Despite Iceland generally being considered a safer place for trans people and all LGBTQIA+ people, we have certainly still have our problems.

In May 2022, a group of LGBTQIA+ young people stepped forward in Kastljós and shared their experiences of bullying, harassment and verbal abuse that they experience on an almost daily basis from their peers. On top of that, we have also seen several violent attacks against LGBTQIA+ people, as well as vandalism and hate driven crimes.

These crimes and attacks are similar to some of the attacks we’ve seen abroad, and largely driven by rhetoric and hatred on social media, that has radicalised people to commit them.

While the murder of Brianna Ghey might seem like an impossibility in Iceland, it’s an important reminder of what can happen if don’t stop this rise in anti-LGBTIQIA+ sentiment, and denounce groups, individuals and politicians that encourage it or partake in it.

So while the murder of Brianna Ghey might seem like an impossibility in Iceland, it’s an important reminder of what can happen if don’t stop this rise in anti-LGBTIQIA+ sentiment, and denounce groups, individuals and politicians that encourage it or partake in it.

It doesn’t take much for things to completely turn around, and the current climate in the UK only really sparked back in 2016 and has gradually continued to get worse since then. So in a space of 8 years things have gotten exponentially worse, and don’t seem to be getting any better.

I firmly believe that the media and politics in the UK have laid the foundation for increased hostilities towards the trans community, and it’s important that we do not allow the same foundations to be established in Iceland. Anti-trans views simply do not align with values of an open, equal and free society where we celebrate human rights and dignity. We cannot build a safe and just society if exclusion, hatred and bigotry is allowed to stand uncontested and unchallenged.

We must denounce rhetoric and language that continues to undermine our identities and rights at every turn, and take a firm stance against the very same hatred and bigotry that radicalised Brianna’s murderers. Words have consequences, and continued prejudice and hatred radicalises people to take action, which leads to increased hate incidents, violence, and as with Brianna – brutal and cold murder.

We have a chance to stop it still – so let’s do it now, before it’s too late. Say something and challenge transphobia wherever you see it.

Make it clear that you will not tolerate it, and make it clear that such sentiments are not welcome in Iceland, or anywhere.

Á. Óskarsson
Á. Óskarsson

Á. Óskarsson offers a variety of products and services to sports centers, swimming pools, schools, kindergartens, and the general public. The company specializes in sport-related products, activity-focused games, and a wide range of solutions for sports facilities.

Á. Óskarsson has been involved in numerous big projects related to building sports facilities and has made it their benchmark to offer good quality products and equipment since the company was founded.

See links to social media in the upper left-hand corner


Á. Óskarsson selur fjölbreytt vöruúrval fyrir íþróttahús, sundlaugar, skóla og leikskóla og einnig ýmsar vörur til einkaafnota. Fyrirtækið selur vörur til íþróttaiðkunnar og leikja ásamt því að bjóða upp á ýmsar lausnir fyrir íþróttamannvirki.

Á. Óskarsson hefur komið að fjölda stórra verkefna við byggingu íþróttamannvirkja og hefur frá stofnun kappkostað að bjóða vandaðar og endingargóðar vörur.

Tenglar á samfélagsmiðla eru í efra horninu vinstra megin.



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    Omnom Chocolate
    - award-winning chocolate maker

      Omnom Chocolate is an Icelandic craft chocolate company based in Reykjavík. We produce handcrafted chocolate from organic cacao beans sourced ethically and sustainably. We’ve developed direct relationships to create premium chocolate with fine flavor cacao beans.

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        Blue Lagoon
        - One of the 25 Wonders of the World

        Named by National Geographic as one of the 25 Wonders of the World, the Blue Lagoon is a shimmering expanse of warmth, relaxation, and rejuvenation. Its unique geothermal seawater
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        Landsbankinn is a leading Icelandic financial institution. It offers a full range of financial services and is the market leader in the Icelandic financial service sector with the largest branch network.

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        Dohop allows people to find the cheapest flights available with just one click. Founded in Reykjavik in 2004, it is the only Icelandic company of its kind and quickly became the go-to tool for finding cheap flights among the locals. Dohop finds the best deals among hundreds of different airlines and online travel agencies, to make sure that the user is getting the cheapest price. Dohop also offers hotel and car rental search engines, so users can make all of their travel bookings from a single website.

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        VSÓ Ráðgjöf


          VSÓ Ráðgjöf er alhliða ráðgjafar- og verkfræðifyrirtæki sem leggur áherslu á trausta og faglega þjónustu sem tryggir viðskiptavinum hagkvæmustu lausnir hverju sinni, skilar raunverulegum árangri og stuðlar að samkeppnisforskoti.  Á skrifstofum VSÓ í Reykjavík og í Noregi starfar yfir 80 manna samhentur hópur verkfræðinga og annarra tæknimenntaðra starfsmanna.

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          Ísey skyr
          - once tasted never forgotten

          Our Story
          Once upon a time, 1,100 years ago in fact, Nordic settlers began arriving in Iceland. They brought with them the skills and knowledge for producing skyr. As time passed, the know-how and recipe for this nutritious food slowly faded out elsewhere in the Nordic region. Luckily, the Icelandic skyr-making tradition continued.

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          You can read more about Ísey skyr on our website.

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