Hundreds of people have taken to social media over the past week to mourn the death of Sophie Gwen Williams.
The Northern Irish trans activist, artist and musician passed away on Saturday (22 May), according to her close friends and family.
Williams was previously Chair of The 343, a Belfast-based charity and Feminist-led Queer Arts Space. She also co-founded We Exist, an organisation created to provide emergency support for transgender and gender non-conforming individuals in the UK, as well as 343 radio, the first ever queer radio station in Ireland.
Following her death, We Exist posted a powerful tribute on their social media channels: “We have lost a mentor, leader, beloved friend, sister and inspiration. Her passion, talent, ferocity, commitment to justice, kindness and generosity were unbounded.
“Wherever she went, Sophie brought light to everyone around her. We, Sophie’s chosen family in London, extend our love to all those who loved and cared for her in Belfast and beyond. Sophie gave her all fighting for a world in which trans people can thrive. We will continue her legacy in all the work that we do.
“For the community in London, there will be a vigil in the coming days but for now we need time. We love you Sophie. Rest in power beautiful angel.”
A poster with further details surrounding Williams’ death has gone viral online. According to the statement in the poster, she was waiting on an NHS waiting list for five and a half years for a “first assessment” at the Gender Identity Clinic.
“On moving to London from Belfast last summer she was told by the staff at the G.I.C. that she was to wait a further FOUR YEARS for her FIRST assessment. On May 20th 2021 our darling Sophie took her own life,” it reads.
“Losing Sophie is a personal tragedy, but it’s also a public disgrace. How is any working trans* person supposed to survive nearly A DECADE amid a maelstrom of gender dysphoria and the repeated mental health crises that it brings on?
“It’s a howling injustice. The staff of the G.I.C. failed our best friend and creative soulmate. They failed Sophie, and now we will never see her again.”
The statement concludes with a call-to-action for the Gender Identity Clinic “to do better”.
The vigil for Williams was held on Tuesday 25 May.
This is heartbreaking. Healthcare for trans people is vital. What happened to Sophie Gwen Williams is happening way too frequently across the world. Change needs to happen!!! #TransRightsAreHumanRights pic.twitter.com/0nVPjAdzQP
— Bobbi Bennet (@BobbiBennet) June 2, 2021
Today I am thinking of Sophie Gwen Williams, who waited five and a half years for her first assessment at a gender identity clinic, who has now lost her life to the systemic brokenness that is trans*healthcare. Rest in peace
— Dáire Lawlor 👻[Available for Freelance Projects] (@daire_lawlor) June 3, 2021
Rest in power Sophie Gwen Williams.
This insane wait kills trans people. https://t.co/LgJ0Hv4cAi
— A cuddly raven 🏳️⚧️ (@RavenessOfWar) June 3, 2021
However, it's also an important time to remember the lives of LGBTQ people we've lost. From hate crime to waiting on medical treatment, young lives are facing discrimination and need our help.#Pride pic.twitter.com/1ufyEyaEuT
— Anxiety Sugar (@AnxietySugar_) June 2, 2021
“Sophie gave her all fighting for a world in which trans people can thrive. We will continue her legacy in all the work that we do.” – Unknown: Tribute to Sophie Gwen Williams #TransLives pic.twitter.com/YWIq3XRIaA
— GenderGP (@GenderGP) May 25, 2021
This is the price of rampant transphobic bs. The repealing of "rights". This is where it leads. Before you pull the 41% BS, remember that's so high because you're shitty to us. Every right you strip away, the more of us die, as we fail to see the point of going on. https://t.co/z7col6PsrJ
— Melo "Institute Director" Dotty (@MeloDotty) June 3, 2021
A little late, but I am saddened by the passing of Sophie Gwen Williams. We must fight for trans healthcare now. I hate that we live in a world of waiting lists and GoFundMes it SHOULD NOT be this way
— Lusty Lovelace (@lustylovelace) June 2, 2021
Another victim to a sick society. Sophie Gwen Williams. This world wasn’t beautiful enough yet for you. My love to her family 💖 pic.twitter.com/Jmt4z0tAgx
— Catty Bantz (@cattybantz) June 2, 2021
sophie gwen williams was KILLED! she was killed by healthcare, the one who refused to take care of her for five years, and intended that to extended for another more four. TRANS HEALTH IS A PUBLIC HEALTH ISSUE!
— angel! (@fckingteenager) June 3, 2021