OK, so I’ve haven’t blogged in aaaages, but this deserves a post.
If you missed it in the news yesterday (which I did), the story goes like this:
Young male teacher decides to go through long and very difficult process of gender reassignment. School decides to support him (quite right too) and in December last year together they inform parents he’ll come back from Christmas school hols as female. Most parents support this. Some parents (not clear how many) decide to bitch to the Daily Mail (presumably because they can’t get him fired under equal opportunity laws so this seems like next best option?). Daily Mail writes an article naming the individual and outing the poor man on a national scale: ““He’s not only in the wrong body… he’s in the wrong job”.
On Tuesday, young teacher found dead at home (suicide not confirmed).
Daily Mail has now taken down the article… why? Surely if you’re rubbish enough to think it’s OK to post an article which actually names the person in the first place and makes a very private issue massively public, then at least have the guts to stand by what you published when the shit hits the fan.
However, if you now feel the content is so inappropriate that it should be removed then at least have the balls to make a full blown public apology to the family of those you’ve hurt.
Alternatively maybe the Daily Mail would like to fund some research investigating why 35% of trans community have attempted suicide at least once and publish an article on their findings.
They might be interested to know that a recent study by Trans Mental Health – the largest study in Europe – reported that 51% of those surveyed said the way in which the media reported on transgender issues had a negative effect on their mental and emotional well-being.
Here’s a quote from one of the participants of the study, speaking about their feelings of media representation of Transgender community.
“It denies me my civic rights. I would never DARE to stand for election, either to the parish, borough or county council, much less to parliament as I would be sure to be ‘outed’ and made to look stupid by the gutter press.”
Here’s another one:
“The ways trans people are portrayed in the media generally fosters negative views of trans people. It makes me feel unsafe because it normalises ridicule and violence towards trans people, portrays our identities as invalid.’”
Surely the Daily Mail should be taken to task on Richard Littlejohn’s article outing the poor teacher so publicly. Earlier this year the Daily Mail also published a highly homophobic / transphobic rant by Julie Birchill which received 800 complaints. However the Press Complaints Association decided it wasn’t in breach of the Editor’s Code of Practice because it didn’t name any individuals – unlike Richard Littlejohn’s article outing Lucy Meadows by name.
Therefore, surely this is a breach of the code? More importantly it’s nothing short of bullying.
So where does that leave us?
Well – Press Regulation is high on the media agenda at the moment… A petition calling for Richard Littlejohn to be fired has secured 3,000 signatures but I doubt this will have any affect. But it will be interesting to see how the Press Complaints Association rules on the article given that it did name the individual.
Alternatively, the Daily Mail and / or Richard Littlejohn could just show some sympathy or compassion for any negative impact the article may have had on Lucy Meadows by releasing some sort of comment (a full apology is highly unlikely). Interestingly the paper covered news of her death on their website on Wednesday, but you have to dig pretty deep to find it. It makes no reference to Richard Littlejohn’s original article.
To finish, here’s the statement released by Lucy Meadows’ employees following the news of her death on Saturday which shows her to be someone who will be greatly missed by both her colleagues and her pupils.
There’s a lesson in here somewhere for those who felt the school had its priorities wrong and that it should be ‘protecting pupils from the more challenging realities of life’, rather than supporting Lucy Meadows.
I suspect her pupils will have learned quite a different lesson in life this week than the one intended by parents who complained to the Daily Mail.
“We are deeply saddened to hear the news about Lucy Meadows. Our thoughts and prayers go out first to her family and friends at this extremely difficult time.
”Also in our prayers are the staff and pupils at the school for whom this news will have been a tremendous shock.
“Lucy was a valued and well-liked member of the team at St Mary Magdalen’s and her loss will be felt deeply by everyone associated with the school.”
*There’s more detail to be found on Trans Mental Health Study in a fab article published by the Pink Paper: http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2013/03/22/analysis-trans-suicide-and-the-way-the-media-reports-the-trans-community/