Update: Please sign the petition here calling for Richard Littlejohn to be sacked from his column at the Daily Mail.
A tragic story emerged today from Accrington, a small town in Lancanshire, England. This week, grade school pupils from St. Mary Magdalen’s Church of England Primary School were informed that their teacher Lucy Meadows had died.
As heartbreaking as that must be for the children, the fact that their teacher was almost certainly bullied to suicide by the British Press will probably only make things more difficult.
The background to the story is that Meadows, a trans woman, had previously been living and teaching as a man. Her students had been informed that following winter break, she would be returning to teach as a woman.
From my own experience, I can say this really isn’t that big of a deal. Children are smart, they’re adaptable, and they can work these things out.
Unfortunately, adults can sometimes be more complicated.
Of course, we all know from the recent Leveson inquiry as well as the Julie Burchill ordeal, the British Press has seemingly raised hateful transphobic and transmisogynistic journalism almost to the level of a twisted art form.
The comments from Richard Littlejohn in a Daily Mail column from Dec. 20, 2012 are a perfect example of this sick obsession that more than a few in the British Press seem to have with trans people.
For some inexplicable reason, Littlejohn seems to have believed that the gender transition of a small-town teacher in England should be UK National News headlines. So he gathered a few quotes from parents (probably taken at least somewhat out of context), prying into the business of some small town he’s likely never even visited before, just to shove this young woman’s personal life into the spotlight and ridicule her with public abuse.
And abuse he gave, including the fact that he consistently misguiders Meadows, refers to her by her previous male-typical name, and includes private photos– including a shot from her wedding for good measure.
Littlejohn begins the article stating he has no problems with NHS funding for gender confirmation surgery, apparently attempting to suggest he has no problem with trans people. He goes on to make the problems he has very clear; for a rough jist of the article (archived above):
Schoolteacher [birth name deleted], 32, says he always knew he was born into the wrong sex. Yet he married and fathered a child, now aged three. It was only fairly recently that he decided to go public with his inner turmoil.
The first indications came when he began growing his cropped hair and dyeing it purple. He started turning up for class wearing pink nail varnish and sparkly headbands.
His pupils at St Mary Magdalen’s Church of England Primary School in Accrington, Lancs, couldn’t help noticing. A crayon drawing of Mr Upton by a Year 6 pupil on the school’s website shows him with long hair swept back over his shoulders.
This week, the school’s 169 pupils, aged between seven and 11, were informed class-by-class that from now on, ‘Sir’ would be ‘Miss’.
So that’s all right, then. From now on, kiddies, Mr Upton will be known as Miss Lucy Meadows.
What are you staring at, Johnny? Move along, nothing to see here. Get on with your spelling test. Today’s word is ‘transitioning’.
But the real kicker of course comes from the following entirely ironic and hypocritical statements:
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.
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?
So there you have it folks, Richard Littlejohn doesn’t have any problem with trans people… he’s just worried about the children.
Of course, what about the challenges of a young child who has to go through the experience of seeing a teacher that they admire being dragged through the mud in the National press? What about the moment when they learn that their teacher won’t be coming in to lead class after all, as she has likely committed suicide as a result of that experience? (The fact that the original article attacking Lucy Meadows has now been scrubbed from the Daily Mail site speaks volumes).
Of course it’s all about the children, right Richard Littlejohn? If that’s the case, then let’s see you do the best, most responsible thing for them that you could possibly do: publicly apologize and resign from your column at the Daily Mail immediately.