Violence is never far away from any of us

Anna-Jayne Metcalfe
4 min readFeb 18, 2023

At the end of January 2023, I flew out to Barcelona for a work trip. During our stay, my colleagues and I were based in a hotel not far from the famous Gaudi-designed Sagrada Familia cathedral in central Barcelona.

Sagrada Familia

I mostly work from our spare room at home. On 5th February (exactly a week later) I flew back to the UK.

Despite a late departure, during which we get to watch our pilot — a young female captain who looked awe-inspiringly relaxed and confident — kick the tires and check the engines before takeoff, the trip back was totally uneventful other than the long, boring, trip back from Gatwick Airport to Bournemouth (change at Horsham, Ford and Southampton Central, none of which had working refreshment facilities).

While I was away I also largely got to forget about violence against trans people for a short while.

However, that changed dramatically after I returned home. On 7th February — just two days after I left Barcelona — a 64-year-old trans woman died in the city after being stabbed in the neck by her abusive partner.

All we know about the victim is her first name — Sandra — and the fact that she had been asking for help for some time — right up to the night before she was killed.

The apartment block on Carrer de la Selva de Mar where she died was within walking distance ofwhere I had been staying near Sagrada Familia.

The apartment block where Sandra was killed was within walking distance of the hotel where I was staying.

What happened to Sandra was on my mind throughout that week. But then, on the evening of 12th February — exactly a week after I returned from Barcelona — I learned about the murder of Brianna Ghey, a 16-year-old trans teenager, near Warrington and my heart just broke.

Brianna Ghey was just 16 when she was murdered

Although murders of trans folks are uncommon in the UK, that doesn’t make it safe here…and indeed, the sheer level of fearmongering and hostility expressed in the media (including by senior political figures such as the current Prime Minister and even the Leader of the Opposition) often makes it feel the exact opposite of safe.

We can’t know whether that toxic media and political climate contributed to Brianna’s murder, but we do know that since her killing many parts of the UK media have been actively trying to de-emphasise the fact that she was trans — and in some cases to degender and deadname her. The fact is that to them, Brianna’s murder undermines their narratives that trans women are bathroom predators whom the public must be protected from at all costs, and that children and teenagers are far too young to known that they are trans.

(P.S. we see you, Keir Starmer. Please do try to grow a spine before you get left behind by history).

The sheer toxicity and cowardice of the UK media and political class is a major subject in its own right, so I won’t dwell on it much further here.

What is most important to realise is that what happened to Sandra and Brianna should remind us that physical violence is never far away from any of us. As such, we must always both remain vigilant against it and try to look after those we care about when they feel — or are being — threatened.

However, their murders should also remind us to keep in mind the wider context — and scrutinise especially closely how minority groups are treated by those in power in politics and the media. Given the recent record of the UK in that regard, this is certainly something which warrants us being highly critical of at the very least.

Right now UK trans folks are in mourning. And we are angry.

I imagine trans folks in Barcelona are angry as well. They too have every right to be.

Footage of the vigil for Brianna in Bristol, UK

SAY THEIR NAMES. #Sandra #BriannaGhey #TransLivesMatter #TDoR #TDoR2023



Anna-Jayne Metcalfe

Software engineer, aerial yoga addict and halberd owning, camera waving, Daywalker of Scones. #trans #lgbt #christian