No Respect in Death

The online trans activist community is once more furiously tweeting, writing hastily put together articles for online news outlets, and planning the picketing of newspaper offices. The difference this time is that the target is a member of the trans community who tragically died shortly after transitioning to live as a woman. The cause of her tragic death is unknown, but the online trans activist community are banking on the cause being suicide, because why should they waste an opportunity to advance their own agendas. One very big reason is that they should is that their haste to further their reputations is at the expense of a transsexual, Lucy Meadows, who in life had asked for privacy. Now in death she is being denied it by the very people she might have expected to agree to her wishes.

One gathering point for this highly inappropriate campaign of self-aggrandisement is the Facebook Group for the media charity Trans Media Watch. I am ashamed to say that I was one of the founder members of that Facebook group, although glad to report that I left it in 2009. What would it cost these activists to wait until they know if Lucy chose to end her own life? Instead, we already have a protest planned (called a vigil, but it is a protest) for Lucy outside the offices of The Daily Mail. Lucy died in her home in Accrington, so an office in West London would not be a good place to hold a vigil, so it is a protest. The reason that the Daily Mail is being chosen for this protest is that from an early stage reports of her death was linked by activists to an article by Richard Littlejohn in that publication about Lucy. The Daily Mail removed the parts of the article referring to Lucy from their website seven days before her death due to undisclosed legal reasons, but trans activists have been posting archived versions of the original piece. So much for Lucy’s request for privacy. I will honour her request and will not tell you where to find Richard’s original non-redacted article.

Trans Media Watch made two representations to the Levenson Inquiry, and posted the transcript of the second representation on their website. Their representative, Helen Belcher, noted that one of their main concerns was representations of the recently departed. Why then was this same Helen writing an article on her blog that acknowledges that the coroner has yet to determine if Lucy chose to end her life, but goes on in the next sentence to say that it looks like suicide? Why did Helen not follow the standards she campaigns for (namely that the media treat trans and intersex people with dignity, accuracy, and respect) and wait for that coroner’s report, so that accurate conclusions can be drawn from what might be death through a domestic accident or health problem. It is also reported that Helen will be meeting with MPs about the media treatment of trans people in the light of Lucy’s death, despite the fact that the cause of her death is not known.

There is now a media storm about Lucy’s death and would it have occurred at this point in time if the online trans activist community had not intervened? I suspect not, as most of the press coverage suggesting that Lucy took her own life appears to come from trans writers or has been inspired by their indecent haste in publishing articles, thereby making her as yet unexplained death worthy of national media coverage. Four months ago Lucy was alive and well and asked for her privacy to be respected, four days ago she died and various members of the trans community that she might have expected support from are advancing their own careers over her dead body and before the cause of her death has been determined.

This article was edited on 24th March 2013, as I had not checked The Daily Mail website and realised that Richard Littlejohn’s comments about Lucy Meadows have been edited out, rather than the whole article being removed. I had accepted the activists’ line that the offending article had been removed, without doing a search on the newspaper’s website. I have learnt in the twenty-four hours since my article was published that Richard’s article existed in a redacted form on their website. This was thanks to some social media comments by activists, including Helen Belcher. Indeed, Helen had mentioned on her article I cited above that The Daily Mail had “removed” the piece “last week” and I had carelessly not noted that this meant before Lucy’s death. The Daily Mail notes on the article that comments are closed for legal reasons, but although the article has an update date of 12th March there is no mention of how the text was altered. According to Helen’s comment on a Trans Media Watch Facebook thread, the legal reasons are that Lucy complained to the Press Complaints Commission as the individual affected about Richard Littlejohn’s article (something that she appeared to be unclear about at the time of her hasty blog article). As a result of this development, the third from last sentence of paragraph two and the second sentence of my final paragraph have been re-written.

© Mercia McMahon 2013