Richard Littlejohn photocard (Early 90s) (Photo credit: radiothings.com)
Lucy Meadows committed suicide on Tuesday after a sustained attack from the Daily Mail and the far-right columnist Richard Littlejohn because she was born Nathan Upton.
Following the revelation of her suicide, petitions have sprung up on the net pointing fingers at Richard Littlejohn and his column, “He’s not only in the wrong body… he’s in the wrong job” as the main agitator in a witch hunt that caused immense distress and possibly suicide. There are at least two petitions, with more than 48,000 signatures between them, calling for Littlejohn to apologise, resign or be fired.
Littlejohn’s column, while apparently acknowledging an individual’s right to transition on the NHS, has been criticised for using male pronouns and calling Lucy’s decision to transition and remain at the same school “selfish” and said the impact on her students would be “devastating”. Many trans* people have taken issue with the validity of his comments and have pointed out, usually from personal experience, that children are generally more accepting of gender issues. In a story, publicised via one of the petitions, a young cousin reacted by saying “Oh, that makes sense. I always thought you were a boy. Now can be go play Legos?”
In the furore following her death the Daily Mail pulled the column from their website but have defended the column’s content. They put out a statement calling the responses “an orchestrated twitterstorm, fanned by individuals… with an agenda to pursue.” and specfically naming Alastair Campbell as one of the instigators. They also reiterated the point made on several blogs that there have been no explicit details linking the suicide with Littlejohn or any other member of the media. However emails have revealed that in the weeks between the publication of Littlejohn’s column and her suicide, Lucy was hounded by journalists. She had to slip out of her back door and stay late at school to avoid them. Ironically, given the statement from the Daily Mail, Lucy also wrote about how supportive parents were ignored by the media who were keen to pursue the outrage agenda.
Though Lucy was supported by her head teacher and many parents at the school the constant harassment clearly had a destabilising effect on her life and it should not be discounted as a factor in her suicide.
In the end though, whether Lucy committed suicide as a result of the harassment doesn’t matter. It is not Lucy’s suicide that needs to be apologised for. It is the harassment, the victimisation and the monstering that Lucy and the whole of the trans* community are owed an apology for.
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