There was an excellent piece in the Guardian the other day by trans activist, Paris Lees:
Hopefully this is the beginnings of a united front against what has been a profoundly transphobic UK press for so many shameful decades.
The tragic suicide of teacher, Lucy Meadows, has made many people – and not only trans people – feel that enough is enough and, in fact, the press should never have ‘monstered’ an already marginalised minority group in the first place. Although there was nothing in Lucy’s heartbreaking suicide note that mentioned the press specifically, a few months earlier she had been hounded by tabloid papers such as the notoriously transphobic Mail and Sun – with one particular article by Mail columnist Richard Littlejohn being particularly offensive.
Since then, it’s also been brought to light by local parents of children taught by Ms Meadows that on the days that the press descended the journos specifically made it known that they did not want to talk with the many parents and children who valued her highly as a teacher but only with those who had a grudge against her – or, otherwise, were already extremely bigoted and transphobic.
I followed this story at the time and was also particularly revolted to see that many newspapers could not even show basic respect to Ms Meadows even after she had died and continued to refer to her with the male pronoun with tiny, almost gloating pieces wedged into the corners of newspaper pages with cruel, shitty, no-brainer, and quite frankly disgusting headlines like: “Sir Who Became a Miss: Dead”.
Sadly, it’s too late for the transphobic excuses for journalists to make amends to Lucy Meadows – and they unfortunately seem the type that will regrettably never learn anyway. However, in her Guardian article Paris Lees suggests that one future way to bring them to bring them to account for their actions and try to make them face up to the often life-changing consequences that their hate campaigns can have on their victims is to adopt the same approach taken in other situations where a crime has been committed and bring the offender/s face-to-face with their victim/s in the hope of conveying the impact that their crimes have had on them.
Will it work for the ‘calibre’ of heartless and shamelessly unscrupulous journos who hounded Ms Meadows? Sadly probably not, as one gets the feeling that they already know what they’re doing is wrong but go ahead and do it anyway. Yes, there do seem to be some people devoid of conscience.
However, for other offenders a restorative justice approach sounds like an excellent idea – or at the very least one worth trying. Many of the inane comments and stereotypes made by media figures on transpeople are simply repeated because they heard them somewhere else before and they have not really thought through how stupid they are. As Paris notes in her article, it worked well with people like Jonathon Ross and certain newspaper editors particularly of the left-of-centre and liberal dailies.
And this is good news, because if the vast majority of journalistic and media people and organisations can be reached then this will hopefully isolate the remaining few who so often resort to pushing outworn transphobic stereotypes as a cover for their lack of imagination and talent.
Come soon, that happy day!