Lucy Meadows death ‘could set transgender community free’
The tragic death of Lucy Meadows could be a "watershed moment" for Britain's transgender community, her MP has claimed.
Graham Jones, the Labour backbencher for Hyndburn, is seeking a debate in parliament on the circumstances leading to Meadows' death. She had endured public humiliation after the media focused on her gender transition.
Jones attacked the "oppressive" nature of Britain's printed press as a petition calling for the Daily Mail to sack columnist Richard Littlejohn, who had singled Meadows out for criticism in a column headlined 'he's not only in the wrong body… he's in the wrong job', approached 200,000 signatures.
"This is a dark moment for the transgender community and the Lucy Meadows case is a deplorable tragedy," Jones told politics.co.uk.
"It also raises the issue about the way the transgender community are treated and I think that they've had an unfair press.
"I think that a debate around the issues of transgender and other minorities will perhaps highlight the oppressive nature of some of the journalistic articles that have appeared over time targeting transgender people. So I think this may be a watershed moment in which transgender people finally get a fair hearing."
The coroner has yet to deliver a final report on the cause of Meadows' death. Police have said no suspicious circumstances are suspected, but the Sum Of Us petition states she "committed suicide" and attacks Littlejohn's "vile article" for having "led to a witchhunt targeting Meadows".
"Everyone has the right to say what they think, but mainstream publications like the Daily Mail shouldn't support and promote this sort of hate," the petition, which by 17:00 GMT on Tuesday had attracted nearly 183,000 signatures, added.
"The Daily Mail needs to ensure that this never happens again – by not only yanking Littlejohn's column and apologizing for the paper's decision to run the hateful opinion piece, but also instituting an editorial review policy that prevents discriminatory writing from ending up in its paper again."
The columnist's article repeatedly referred to Meadows as "he" and criticised her for persisting in her job as a primary school teacher following her gender transition.
Parents and staff were informed Nathan Upton would return as Lucy Meadows in the new year last December.
"Lucy complained of her inability to leave the house by the front door, of movement curtailed, of parents offered money for pictures of her, of pictures lifted without permission from her family's Facebook," trans activist Jane Fae wrote in an article for politics.co.uk published last Friday,
Meadows' MP is now demanding that the regulatory system used to control Britain's broadcast media be applied to the printed press – despite the recent political consensus achieved on the introduction of an independent watchdog.
"My view on this is I'm much less concerned about freedom of the press and far more concerned about the freedom of the British public, the reader," Jones added.
"That freedom is being denied. We do live in an oppressive country as far as the press are concerned. They omit so much of the truth that the reader is unable to make a balanced and fair judgement on the story that's being reported on."
Jones blamed the "press barons" controlling the editorial agenda of national newspapers for the problem.
"They selectively edit their articles denying my constituents and the great British public the opportunity to make a fair and reasonable decision," he added.
Up to 300 transgender activists holding 'I am not afraid' placards gathered outside the offices of the Mail on Monday night in a silent vigil.
The backbench business committee is expected to grant a debate on the issue in April which will take place after the coroner's report is published.