Lucy Meadows was hounded by the press over the supposed “devastating effect” transitioning genders while teaching would have on her pupils. She later committed suicide.
A poem written by one Meadows’ pupils, 7-year-old Daisy Moreton, and read at a march last Saturday in Meadows’ memory, speaks to exactly what effect Lucy Meadows had:
Makes you happy
in high spirits
said kind things
Made us feel good
one of a kind
Daisy Moreton is scarred for life, clearly.
The march, organized by members of the North West National Union of Teachers and supported by 100 colleagues, supporters and community members, began at St Mary’s Magdalen’s school in Accrington, England, the school at which Lucy Meadows taught.
Miss Meadows, 32 at the time of her death and parent to two children, was subject to appalling media intrusion beginning in December of last year when a local paper took up a story cadged from the school’s newsletter.
The newsletter had simply announced the school’s support for Meadows and her gender transition, noting, “Mr Upton has recently made a significant change in his life and will be transitioning to live as a woman. After the Christmas break, she will return to work as Miss Meadows.”
This story was then seized by the jabbering MailOnline, which proceeded to elevate the story to wider national attention under the header, “Shock at CofE school where Mr Upton will return after Christmas as Miss Meadows” and the subtitle, “Nathan Upton, a teacher at St Mary Magdalen’s School in Accrington will also dress as a woman from next term.”
The Mail wasn’t through with its mischief yet, going on to extract outrage stories from a handful of parents who said things like:
“My middle boy thinks that he might wake up with a girl’s brain because he was told that Mr Upton, as he got older, got a girl’s brains. He’s a great teacher, but my kids are too young to be told about the birds and the bees like this.”
Naturally, and in the way that online media works, the frenzy then began in earnest with the story escalating as other outlets offered their opinions and the details of Lucy Meadows’ transition, her personal rebirth, was slowly reduced to mere Internet memes.
Still it got worse. In a separate opinion piece, which now but for the wonders of the Internet’s eidetic memory has become hard to find, Mail writer Richard Littlejohn folded his own show of blistering ignorance into the mix with a piece that first gave us a character sketch of Meadows, an editorialized version of what the Daily Mail had already served-up, and then his own brand of bitter garnish.
“He’s not only in the wrong body … he’s in the wrong job,” Littlejohn had decided — based on absolutely no supporting qualifications whatsoever. As Care2 reported earlier this year, LittleJohn’s article went on:
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.
By insisting on returning to St Mary Magdalen’s, he [Lucy Meadows] is putting his own selfish needs ahead of the well-being of the children he has taught for the past few years.
This article was published on the 20th of December. Lucy Meadows was found dead at her home in March. The exact circumstances surrounding her apparent suicide remain unclear but, for many, a connection was made.
A subsequent online campaign backed by some 40,000 people called for Littlejohn to be fired because, protesters said, his could have been the narrative to push Meadows into taking her own life. Certainly, there have been reports that Meadows had been affected by the press intrusion she faced, but Littlejohn’s burden of guilt is dwarfed by the MailOnile which enabled him, and the greater media culture that burns for false morality, shock and outrage, because it sells, sells, sells.
Meadows’ death and the press’ role in hounding her has even provoked her MP, Graham Jones (Labour), to seek a debate in the House of Commons regarding these sorry events where it is hoped something positive can be stirred from the ashes and a meaningful way forward divined.
But of Littlejohn’s blithe ramblings about the “devastating effects” Meadows’ transition would have on her pupils, this a “Think of the children!” grenade lobbed only by the unthinking when they have nothing of substance to say, we can now contrast with stark clarity because we have on record a thinking, feeling child expressing exactly the impact Lucy Meadows had on her.
“Makes you happy.”
The media’s ugly, vicious narratives about the trans community and a 7-year-old girl’s poetry about what her teacher meant to her could not be more different. That a child should have anything to teach us about empathy and adult conduct is shameful, but there it is.
Image credit: Thinkstock.