The commentator commented

Yesterday, following a spontaneous outburst of rage directed at Richard Littlejohn, following the death of Lucy Meadows, one-time Mirror Editor and Robert Maxwell appointee, Roy Greenslade, took to the Guardian to defend the columnist. The problem is, Mr G is wrong, wrong, wrong.

Lucy Meadows was not “a story”

There are two ways that a trans person gets to be a story. First, is if they put their hand up and invite the press through their front door – hopefully for a fee – in order to do one of those true life interest pieces. The second is if the trans person actually DOES something: you know, like gets to be Prime Minister, or beats the world speed record in something or other.

Or maybe, out of sheer frustration, sticks an icepick into the skull of a washed up former newspaper editor.


Otherwise, the “story” is about as justified as “oo! Look! A black person !”

“Omigosh! That man’s gay.”

Yep. I am sure there are a few people, still, particularly in the higher reaches of Fleet St who believe that if anyone who isn’t white, male and middle-aged does anything interesting, that is totally news. But actually – listen up, bigots! – it is not. It is just everyday people getting on with their lives and that is not a story.

And if, by the somewhat dubious process of ignoring all those who were happy with Ms Meadows and only actively seeking out and reporting the two Neanderthals who weren’t, you end up with “a story”, then the story is still not “Parents fury at trans teacher shock! Horror!” It is actually. “There’s still a hater in every town”.

And if you don’t believe me, Mr ex-editor, perhaps I should door knock up and down your street until I find the lone (?) individual who believes you to be in league with Satan and report that. Cause, after all, “it’s a story”.

Picking nits is for children – not grown-ups

Oh, but. Yes, but. No, but. I’ve had my fill of dealing with the press and the Press Complaints Commission and the oh-so-clever wordsmiths of editorial management. Of course, if I look at the placing of the comma and how this word was used here and not that and how the public might or might not interpret what you really meant, you never said what you said in the first place.

To which, bollocks! The press has set up a system whereby it sits in judgment on whether it wrote something that was inaccurate or just downright lies. Whereas, as someone who has spent a lot of my life doing research, there is a much simpler answer than letting those who created the problem in the first place decide the extent of their culpability.

And that is to put what you and your ilk wrote out to research and if the impression the majority of the public got is this, and this happens to be misleading – then it was misleading. End of.

There is no proven link between ex-Editors and humanity

Oh dear. You went for the ridiculous defence of Littlejohn. (Mate, is he?).

You wrote: “sticking to the facts, it is important to note that there is no clear link – indeed any link – between what Littlejohn wrote and the death of Lucy Meadows”. How clever! For this is the last refuge of the intellectually at-a-loss.

No. There is no proven link between what Littlejohn wrote and any outcome. And we don’t even know for sure, at this moment, whether Ms Meadows took her own life or died in some awful tragic co-incidence. We do know, from e-mails she wrote, that the media attention was sufficient to disrupt her life and lifestyle.

We also know, if we are human, if we have any humanity in our soul – and if you missed this point, I have to question seriously whether, therefore, that applies to you – that the media pack rolling up on our doorstep and some great puffed up panjandrum such as Littlejohn taking potshots at you is not conducive to a stress-free life.

Or perhaps it is.

Perhaps, since there is no PROVEN link between bullying and children taking their own lives, you would be quite unphased if such treatment was meted out to your own grandchildren. And in the absence of any PROVEN link between all sorts of bad behaviour and stress and depression and personal upset, well: we should just tear up our laws on libel and harassment and the like, and let the powerful get on with putting the boot into the powerless.

Oh. Except they do that already. Its called tabloid journalism.

Who’s got an agenda?

Last of all, since the Mail quotes approvingly from your blog in its frankly disgusting self-interested defence on the Channel 4 website, there is this little question of just who has an agenda in this matter. Because, of course, as the Mail put it:

“It is regrettable that this tragic death should now be the subject of an orchestrated twitterstorm, fanned by individuals – including former Labour spin doctor Alastair Campbell – with agendas to pursue.”

Oh. Yeah. Alastair Campbell tweeted about the matter and as someone with in excess of 200,000 followers a fair few of them retweeted. Unlike newspapers, whose followers may be numbered in the millions.

But as far as the trans community is concerned, I have rarely seen such a spontaneous outpouring of grief and anger. Like that Mail statement? Spontaneous, was it?

Whereas maybe for that paper of all the papers to be talking about agendas is just a tad disingenuous.

Because when it comes to “agendas”, the press prints what it likes – and what it likes is pretty much only what fits ITS agenda. You don’t believe?

Well, earlier this year it was revealed that a trans GP was being investigated by the General Medical Council in respect of a number of minor and mostly technical issues. This was NEWS! (As an ex-editor, I’m sure you’d register that!). It was widely reported on by the national press, including our old friends at the Mail.

A couple of weeks back, I broke a story about the GMC now looking to investigate 40 complaints about how medical practitioners had treated trans patients. This included sexual and physical abuse, humiliation and harassment. Can you guess how many national papers reported this? Can you?

I’m sure you can explain exactly why THIS was not news at all.

And back to Ms Meadows. Apart from all those papers who showed such great respect for her in death by gendering her as male and referring to her first and foremost by a name she no longer uses, there is the little matter of the story I reported yesterday: how she had expressed concerns earlier this year at the disruption wreaked upon her life by the press.

Now, in all those column inches devoted to continuing the hatchet job on her life – and following all those journalistic hours spent canvassing the streets of Accrington for the least evidence of parental dissatisfaction – how many inches and hours do you imagine were devoted to following up THAT angle. Well, apart from the Guardian and Indie, to whom all credit, absolutely none.

But of course, the national papers don’t have an agenda, do they?

The only agenda here, as far as the trans community is concerned – as far as Trans Media Watch is concerned – is that people be treated as people, with respect and without having their lives turned upside down, monstered for no better reason than that it creates sensation and sells papers.



About janefae

On my way from here to there
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7 Responses to The commentator commented

  1. Helen Heaton says:

    Thankyou Jane Fae for putting this out there. I’m not a militant person in anyway and I’ve always believed that the way forward was through education rather than creating a war which reinforces us and them. But enough is enough. It’s time for a change and the press can not be allowed to continue to treat trans people as curiosities. All we want is to get on with our lives.

  2. bev cassells says:

    Vey well said

  3. Carol Uren says:

    Excellent response Jane.
    Like Helen above, I have never been militant, and after my own transition 40 years ago I went into ‘stealth’ mode to protect my businesses, but recently the presses treatment and harassment of trans people seems to have intensified to what can only be described as pure hatred though. They will give air to any transphobic writer (eg Burchill), but as parents of children who were taught by Lucy Meadows found, any positive comments were completely disregarded in favour of those expressed by the few bigots.
    You, Paris, Helen and other people at TMW do a great job in trying to educate, but the press are like errant school kids, not wanting to attend lessons and constantly wagging it.
    If only Clegg and Millibrand had possessed the courage to force through the Leveson recommendations undiluted, maybe it would have been different, but neither of them could bear the thought of a vitriolic press hounding them at the next general election. Well wake up gentlemen, that is what many trans people have to suffer.

    • janefae says:

      Thank you muchly for that vote of confidence…though a quick clarification in case this ever gets hurled against TMW. I support them, but i am not part of them. That’s because – like Aslan – i am “not a tame lioness”. 🙂

      Yes. I write and campaign as responsibly as i can. But i also feel and i make mistakes and i am far too immature to be tied down by the responsibilities of a party line. So it is safer all round if i stay out here where i sit, writing, typing, exposing….and i am happy for all and sundry to take from what i do: to take everything…everything, that is, except the blame for when i (sometimes) get it wrong. 🙂


      • Carol Uren says:

        Sorry, my bad writing as I know that neither you or Paris are part of TMW – I meant those of you who are out there who are out there actually IN the media, writing responsibly and trying to educate ‘the unwashed masses’ as it were as to the hurt and damage that can be caused by irresponsible or transphobic writing.

  4. Pingback: Being out in schools -a tribute to Lucy Meadows | Explorational Situations

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