Transmediawatch – community that works to improve media coverage of the transgendered community – today confirmed that Lucy Meadows, a transgendered woman about to start her first term back as a teacher at her beloved school, has been found dead, in an apparent suicide, weeks after The Daily Mail printed an article by notoriously nasty Richard Littlejohn, in which he mercilessly verbally tore her to pieces. Today, the Daily Mail pulled the article on its website, but it can, and should be seen here.
The school that Lucy worked at, wrote to the parents of the children she taught over Christmas to inform them that Nathan Upton would be returning for Spring term after a life changing transition, and would now be referred to as Miss Meadows. Richard Littlejohn took exception to this, and endeavoured to expose a vulnerable person, already going through an incredibly difficult, life altering time, in a small, quiet community, to National media spotlight, and unprovoked, vicious, bigoted bullying.
The particularly horrid little piece, by Littlejohn said:
“He’s not only in the wrong body… he’s in the wrong job.”
“Nathan Upton is now in the early stages of gender reassignment treatment. He issued a statement which read: ‘This has been a long and difficult journey for me and it was certainly not an easy decision to make.’
So that’s all right, then. From now on, kiddies, Mr Upton will be known as Miss Lucy Meadows.
What are you staring at, Johnny? Move along, nothing to see here. Get on with your spelling test. Today’s word is ‘transitioning’.”
“Mr Upton/Miss Meadows may well be comfortable with his/her decision to seek a sex-change and return to work as if nothing has happened. The school might be extremely proud of its ‘commitment to equality and diversity’.
But has anyone stopped for a moment to think of the devastating effect all this is having on those who really matter? Children as young as seven aren’t equipped to compute this kind of information.”
“Why should they be forced to deal with the news that a male teacher they have always known as Mr Upton will henceforth be a woman called Miss Meadows?”
“The school shouldn’t be allowed to elevate its ‘commitment to diversity and equality’ above its duty of care to its pupils and their parents.
It should be protecting pupils from some of the more, er, challenging realities of adult life, not forcing them down their throats.”
“By insisting on returning to St Mary Magdalen’s, he is putting his own selfish needs ahead of the well-being of the children he has taught for the past few years.”
“They will lose their innocence soon enough.”
– There are so many problems with this, it’s difficult to know where to start. It makes you sit, jaw on the floor, that such needless and undeserved prejudices, presented in such a callous, and demeaning way, are still prevalent in 21st Century, beautifully diverse, Britain. The rhetorical devices used to perpetuate such bigotry are quite astonishing. He begins by whimsically tearing into the mention of her personal struggle in her statement. Constant reference to Lucy as “he“, insisting that children (the most vulnerable people, and an easy target for those wishing to manipulate the emotions of their readers) need “protecting” from someone who has done no wrong, and is injuring no person, and who just wishes to teach. By saying “they will lose their innocence soon enough” he is suggesting that Lucy was a threat to that innocence. His article is accompanied by pictures of Lucy as a man. It also includes the letter sent to parents, and tells us that the subject of Lucy’s change, was “buried at the bottom“. The letter itself, has just seven lines of information above the the bit about Lucy. It isn’t “buried” anywhere. It is treated sensitively, and respectfully, and not as a big deal, and rightfully so. The Daily Mail is not concerned with ‘the children’, they are concerned with providing a platform for bigotry to flourish, masking it behind a thin veil of ‘respectability’ of the feigned concern for the welfare of ‘the children’.
I will simply say this, if children are “exposed” to the harmless diversity of life that Littlejohn finds so offensive, throughout their lives, perhaps they will grow up considering such diversity to be exactly as it is; an inoffensive, non-problematic natural fact of life. Perhaps then, those children that grow up feeling “different”, perhaps feeling as if they were born the wrong gender, will find it less challenging, and less scared to be who they are, because society no longer attaches such Littlejohn-esque stigma. Perhaps then the needless stigma – stigma that can and has had such devastating consequences – will slowly become non-existent, erased from our collective thoughts, and the prejudices that Littlejohn is happy to perpetuate in such a vicious way, illegitimate prejudices he isn’t interested in challenging or eradicating, will be considered as dirty and as wrong as discrimination based on race. Defeating such needless and harmful prejudice, starts with education. It continues with media responsibility; a responsibility that does not extend to publishing degrading and humiliating deep personal issues of one individual, exposing her to abuse, and for the entire World to see.
The only reason there is such stigma attached to transgender community, is because the “difference” is both preyed upon, presented in amplified negative tones, with rhetoric cloaked in fear, by people like Richard Littlejohn. This is what children should be educated to find offensive and threatening.
My thoughts are with the family and the friends, and the children she simply wished to educate, of Lucy Meadows.
The Sun, following in the footsteps of the Mail, and seemingly learning none of the lessons that led to such a tragedy, uses horribly negative language to further attack Miss Meadows, even after her death. The article can be seen here. They do not mention the hounding by the Mail, nor Littlejohn’s column. They simply and subtly blame Lucy:
“The 32-year-old — believed to be in the early stages of gender reassignment — sparked outrage when he announced his sex change.”
– This is presented, as if Lucy brought the harassment on herself. It is then followed up immediately by quotes from outraged parents, as if that legitimises the prejudice. They then, rather horrendously sent a reporter to her house, and still refused to call her by her name:
“Tonight a friend who answered the door at Nathan’s terraced home in Accrington refused to comment.”
– In other words, if you too are facing such life changing worries, you will ‘spark outrage’, parents will be disgusted by you, and the media will refuse to afford you the respect of calling you by your name or referring to you as the gender that you truly are, even in death, and reporters who hounded you in the first place, will now hound your grieving friend and family for a comment. To them, you are a piece of sensationalism waiting to sell papers.