Transphobia and the death of Lucy Meadows

March 22, 2013 at 7:38 pm (children, Civil liberties, Daily Mail, Guest post, Human rights, LGBT, media, Pink Prosecco, thuggery)

Guest post by Pink Prosecco

Lucy Meadows was known as Nathan Upton before undergoing transition

Above: Lucy Meadows before undergoing transition

This morning I discovered that the PCC had determined that Julie Burchill’s disgusting transphobic rant in the Observer did not breach their code of practice.  Now I have just read about the death of Lucy Meadows, a transsexual woman who was the subject of a hostile article by Richard Littlejohn in the Daily Mail.  (This is no longer available on the Mail’s website). He sneered:

“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.

“Pre-pubescent boys and girls haven’t even had the chance to come to terms with the changes in their own bodies.

“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? Anyway, why not Miss Upton?”

The precise circumstances surrounding Lucy Meadows’ death are still not certain [but would appear to be suicide – JD].  However it is clear that many people, including those whose views are otherwise liberal, have a higher tolerance threshold for transphobia than for just about any other kind of bigotry.

To be fair, the PCC, in giving Burchill’s article a clean bill of health, are only following their own guidelines, according to Pink News:

“The PCC’s Editors’ Code of Practice states in a clause on discrimination that the press ‘must avoid prejudicial or pejorative reference to an individual’s race, colour, religion, gender, sexual orientation or to any physical or mental illness or disability.’

“However, in its ruling of the Burchill article, the PCC acknowledged that it had caused offence but declared the decision to publish was not in breach of the Editors’ Code of Practice…

“It said: ‘the clause does not cover references to groups or categories of people. The language used in the article did not refer to any identifiable individual, but to transgender people generally. While the commission acknowledged the depth of the complainants’ concerns about the terminology used, in the absence of reference to a particular individual, there was no breach of Clause 12.’”

In theory this would seem to imply that it would be ok to propagate ideas straight out of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion – as long as no individuals were named.  Of course in practice, despite concerns about (for example) Islamophobia, even the tabloids usually avoid the crudest expressions of bigotry, despite their selective, and often factually incorrect, reporting. This makes the publication of Julie Burchill’s disgusting article by the liberal Observer all the more noteworthy. Here’s a reminder:

“She, the other JB and I are part of the tiny minority of women of working-class origin to make it in what used to be called Fleet Street and I think this partly contributes to the stand-off with the trannies. (I know that’s a wrong word, but having recently discovered that their lot describe born women as ‘Cis’ – sounds like syph, cyst, cistern; all nasty stuff – they’re lucky I’m not calling them shemales. Or shims.) We know that everything we have, we got for ourselves. We have no family money, no safety net. And we are damned if we are going to be accused of being privileged by a bunch of bed-wetters in bad wigs…

“To have your cock cut off and then plead special privileges as women – above natural-born women, who don’t know the meaning of suffering, apparently – is a bit like the old definition of chutzpah: the boy who killed his parents and then asked the jury for clemency on the grounds he was an orphan.”

Finally, as Lizzie c notes on Twitter:

“just a thought: it’s probably harder to explain to your child why their teacher is dead than why they are now a woman. #lucymeadows


  1. Babz Badasbab Rahman said,

    I find it quite depressing when there’s so much hate emanating from the left.

  2. Simon Burton said,

    The treatment of psychological issues with surgery will one day be regarded with the same horror as the treatment of depression by lobotomy.

  3. Roger McCarthy (@RF_McCarthy) said,

    I really object to the pairing of Burchill and Littlejohn.

    Julie was in her inimitably obnoxious way making a general political statement as to the real limits of identity politics and as the PCC correctly judged attacked no individual by name.

    Littlejohn was quite deliberately and as they say with malice aforethought seeking to destroy the career and life of an individual and actually managed to drive them to suicide.

    One piece was idiotic and even if not punishable by the PCC may actually have ended Burchill’s journalistic career (not that she seems very interested in it or actually needs the money any more), the other was vile and criminal but will do no harm whatsoever to Littlejohn’s.

    Can you really not see the difference?

    • Monsuer Jelly More Bounce to the Ounce (Much More Bounce) OOps upside your Head this time with feeling said,

      what Rodger said. Burchill’s piece wasn’t even bad. made some very good points.

    • Matthew Blott said,

      I can spot the difference. I’ve just read Littlejohn’s piece and to my surprise it’s less offensive than Burchill’s – which only shows how disgusting it was in the first place.

      • holy joe said,

        “Julie was in her inimitably obnoxious way making a general political statement as to the real limits of identity politics and as the PCC correctly judged attacked no individual by name”
        So what you seem to be saying is that it’s fine to incite hatred against a general category but despicable to attack individuals within that category? I suppose on the same basis you could argue that when “Julie” refers to Arabs as camel-fuckers, it’s less noxious than “Richard” attacking Abu Quattada or whoever.

      • Roger McCarthy (@RF_McCarthy) said,

        The answer is whether in fact a) you are inciting hatred of a category or an individual and b) whether they deserve that hatred

        As I see politics in Carl Schmitt’s definition as first and last about defining one’s enemies I do not in any case see how any leftist could support a blanket ban on ‘incitement to hatred’ – Tories, fascists, Daily Mail writers and readers, capitalists, fundamentalist theocrats whether Christian, Islamic, Jewish, Hindu, etc all deserve not just our hatred but to be fought and destroyed politically with every weapon available.

        Are transexuals such a category? of course not.

        Would a clique of transexuals who violently verbally attack old school feminists like Julie or Suzanne for not accepting that human sexuality is something that can be changed on a whim deserve to be responded to in equally violent language? – arguably yes as long as (unlike Julie) you are careful to define precisely that it is a subset of a much larger category of people who you are attacking,

        Does this internecine argument amongst feminists and would-be feminists equate to a general attack by a Daily Mail scumbag on the rights of any and all transexuals to be gainfully employed and which deliberately assassinates the character of a named individual?

        Of course it doesn’t.

  4. Mick O said,

    We are all influenced by our background and upbringing to a certain extent. I must confess that, along with many of my generation, I am not completely at ease with transgender issues. That said, there is no excuse for the vitriol spewed out by Littlejohn and Burchill that appeals directly to the bigotry and ignorance of tabloid fans. Littlejohn has always been a smug pig ignorant prick so I’d expect nothing else. I am disappointed with Burchill’s attitude. She has capitalised for years on her own unconventional lifestyle and chequered history so you would expect a little more empathy. Or probably not, she isn’t the first and won’t be the last to let advancing years and vanity turn her into a judgemental bore.

    • Roger McCarthy (@RF_McCarthy) said,

      Having followed her writing for 35 or whatever it is years quite possibly the last thing I would say of Julie Burchill is that she is someone of whom one could ‘expect a little more empathy’.

      She was attacking a particular clique who were being beastly to her friend Suzanne Moore on the internet and as she does went way, way too far – so far in fact that even I find it difficult to defend her other than to point out that batshit crazy though she increasingly is she is not Richard fucking Littlejohn…..

      • Pink Prosecco said,

        I think that whole saga was seriously distorted – for example some early key responses to Suzanne Moore’s article came from cissexual readers. I rather agree with Matthew – i.e. I think Burchill was in many ways more offensive than Littlejohn even if she was not targeting an individual.

  5. Modernity's Ghost said,

    Good post

  6. Rosie said,

    Good angry piece in the New Statesman:-

    “This morning, you could almost feel sorry for the British press. For following the death of primary school teacher, Lucy Meadows, there’s a mob out there baying for blood. A cursory read of the #lucymeadows tweets suggests that no paper escapes criticism entirely.

    Particular venom, though, is reserved for the Daily Mail (“hateful”, “disgusting”, “murdering”) – and for one writer in particular, Richard Littlejohn – described variously as “a bully”, “a murderer” and a “nasty fat evil pus filled hateful cunt of an excuse for a human being”.

    Last night, I was given access to emails from Lucy Meadows to a member of the trans community, seeking help back in January. I spoke to others before deciding to write about them: we do not know absolutely if Lucy would have wished them made public – but this is now the only voice left to her.

    She talks of her good luck in having a supportive head. But the stress of her situation is also visible. She complains bitterly of how she must leave her house by the back door, and arrive at school very early, or very late, in order to avoid the press pack.

    She talks of the press offering other parents money for a picture of her; of how in the end they simply lifted an old picture from the Facebook pages of her brother and sister without permission. A Year 5 drawing removed from the school website was simply recovered through the magic of caching.

    Yet this is all about “how”. The big question is “why”: ah, yes – parental “fury” at her gender transition while a teacher. That might be an issue, if it was spontaneous and widespread. Only, Lucy writes of how parents themselves complained that their attempts to provide positive comments about her were rebuffed. The press gang, it seems, were only interested in one story: the outrage, the view from the bigots. The stench of money hangs around – it’s widely believed among those connected with the case that money was being offered for these stories.”

    • Roger McCarthy (@RF_McCarthy) said,

      Which is what this should be about – the woman whose life has been destroyed.

      And “nasty fat evil pus filled hateful cunt of an excuse for a human being” reminds me of the Hitchens description of Jerry Fallwell as so full of shit that if you gave his corpse an enema what was left could be buried in a matchbox.

  7. Michael Moran said,

    If only you lot were as concerned by the suicides of Palestinians, the massacre of Syrians by NATO backed Al Qaeda fascists etc

    • Simon Burton said,

      I must admit to getting a little tired of the rather silly ‘phobia’ suffix to label anything one doesn’t approve of as being the product of prejudice and hate and therefore not open to debate. It devalues issues and prevents debate. Dislike or disapproval is not fear, and neither necessarily is prejudice. it is more complex than that. Maybe I am phobophobic, but I feel we have nothing to fear but fear itself.

      • SJemson said,

        You might want to check your privilege then.

  8. Michael Moran said,

    Just a fucking non story. Why do these freaks have to be defended by the pseudo left, while the genuinely oppresses, rather than the freaks who chose to be oppressed, are shafted by the Jew shagging lefts?

    • Pink Prosecco said,

      Thanks for that extremely helpful clarification.

  9. Matthew Blott said,

    I’m probably going to be on my own here but I don’t think the Richard Littlejohn column was quite as bad as people think. Don’t get me wrong, he’s an unpleasant shit who has made a career out of picking on the weakest members of society but I don’t think his usual bigotry is present in his piece on Lucy Meadows. He says he has sympathy for transexuals and that they should be allowed to have treatment on the NHS. Julie Birchill on the other hand has no sympathy for transexuals because she doesn’t transexuals really exist – even though it is an accepted condition the world over with few, if any, dissenters in the medical profession. Littlejohn says Lucy Meadows could have gone to another school where there wouldn’t have been questions about her past. I have a six year old daughter and I think she might be a bit confused if “sir” was now “miss”. I’m not sure I agree with Littlejohn’s conclusion but I’m not sure he should be hounded from his job on this one as some people are saying.

    • Roger McCarthy (@RF_McCarthy) said,

      Which is an argument that could only appear reasonable to someone who is completely ignorant of everything Littlejohn and the Daily Mail are and have ever done.

      And real six-year olds are astonishingly flexible and resilient and can and do take far more bizarre shit than a teacher turning up to class in a dress in their stride.

    • SJemson said,

      “I have a six year old daughter and I think she might be a bit confused if “sir” was now “miss”.

      My own experience of transition is that kids are a damn sight more able to deal with, and accept trans people’s gender changes, than a lot of the adults around them.

      Littlejohn always employs the ‘I have sympathy for’ tactic, before then going on to spew utter bile (remember his pieces post-Ipswich Murders of the five women?)

  10. [link] Her Name was Lucy Meadows: the consequences of transphobic press monstering | said,

    […] Transphobia and the death of Lucy Meadows ( […]

  11. Clive said,

    I hope someone’s going to ban Michael Moron.

    I can’t help wondering if the Julie Birchill rant was something else in the air, at least, which was a factor in this tragic event. Of course we can’t know exactly what affected her. No connection will ever be proven to Richard Littlejohn. I just hope he can sleep.

    Actually, come to think of it, that’s not true. I hope the shit-brained bastard never manages to sleep again – direct cause or not.

  12. Jim Denham said,

    The moron Moran is banned

  13. Jim Denham said,

  14. Alec said,

    “the stand-off with the trannies. (I know that’s a wrong word, but having recently discovered that their lot describe born women as ‘Cis’ – sounds like syph, cyst, cistern; all nasty stuff – they’re lucky I’m not calling them shemales. Or shims.)” If she’d done her research she’d know that cis is short for cisgender, which is not an insult at all. Also, calling trans people offensive names because of real or perceived name calling from them is just childish.

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