The death of Lucy Meadows

Lucy Meadows is dead.

She was a popular teacher at a primary school. But on Tuesday, police and an ambulance were called to her home. She was found dead. Her death is not being treated as suspicious. Already various people have said she took her own life. Helen Belcher reports that friends said that Lucy Meadows had spoke of suicide. The police told me today a file will be passed to the coroner.

At the moment we do not know how she died and, if it was the case that she took her own life, what the relevant circumstances were.

But what we do know is that Lucy Meadows was monstered by tabloid newspapers when news emerged that she was transitioning from male to female.

Suddenly she became not only an unwilling figure in sensational news reporting, but someone ridiculed and criticised by a national newspaper columnist. There was, of course, no public interest in any of this.

Such “monster” pieces are easy for tabloids to produce (especially if they get “before” and “after” photos), and the powerless figures caught up – victims – are unlikely ever to fight back. In a way, the tabloids treat trans people the way they would treat anyone, if they could get away with it.

In December 2011, the group TransmediaWatch made a submission to the Leveson Inquiry (I helped with some of the drafting). It documents the monstering of trans people by tabloids. Anyone with an interest in media matters should read it. The stories are horrific.

A person in transition is likely to be going through intense psychological and emotional changes: the worst thing for them is the humiliation of a sudden tabloid monstering (see more on this here). They are also having the most personal surgery one can perhaps imagine; but no other comparable group of people having surgery – say women having a mastectomy or hysterectomy – would feature in such sensationalist news reporting. Instead such intimate matters are rightly regarded as nobody’s business but that of the person involved.

And this should be the case for trans people. It is a basic privacy matter. The fact that someone is in transtion does not create any automatic public interest in their national media exposure. In fact, their situation calls for a genuine respect for their privacy and autonomy. The monstering of Lucy Meadows and other trans people is wrong on its own terms, regardless of any consequences.

Such monstering pieces really must now come to an end.

You can follow TransMediaWatch on Twitter. The Samaritans can be contacted here.

Post script – I have created a resource page here.

I also did an interview for Radio 4 on the above – you can hear it here at 25:20.

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