Following the news that Lucy Meadows, the teacher vilified by Richard Littlejohn in the Mail for her audacity in choosing to alter her body in order to fit with her identity, has committed suicide, it is good to see there is widespread public condemnation, with nearly 100,000 already calling for him to be sacked. Littlejohn’s diatribe, which I won’t repost here, was appalling, and if I was in London I would be joining the vigil outside the Mail’s Kensington offices which will be taking place this Tuesday.
However, tempting as it is to lay blame for the entire incident on the utterly inappropriate and vile ravings of this man, who certainly should not be given a platform for pushing his transphobia in the mainstream press, I think it is far too easy to “monster” him as a way of dealing with the issue, instead of looking at the undercurrent of deeply rooted prejudice experienced by trans people every day in current UK society.
The UK’s largest survey of trans people has shown that over 1 in 3 has attempted suicide. That’s staggering, and it stretches far beyond Littlejohn’s reaches. Alongside that, a UCU report states that in the EU 79% of trans people have been harassed in public, with harassment ranging from verbal to physical and sexual abuse. It is also widely acknowledged that transphobic hate crimes are statistically under-presented, from a combination of under-reporting and issues in classification.
It is absolutely right to call for Littlejohn to go on this issue, and I would encourage anyone who has not already to sign the petitions here and here, and if in London to attend the vigil. But lets hope that while this has a much wider audience than is normally given to the issue, the mainstream public response to the tragedy of Lucy’s death goes beyond a kneejerk moment of outrage and a clamour for Littlejohn’s job, to a real movement for recognition of the rights of trans people to live their lives free of ridicule, judgement and abuse.