Trans press victims take their case to parliament
Members of Parliament attend Trans Media Watch session on harassment and inaccurate reporting in the British press
Transgender people have told top politicians of their bad experiences at the hands of the British press at a meeting in parliament.
The discussion was organized after the death of Lucy Meadows, a transgender school teacherwho had been the subject of a critical news story and comment piece by columnist Richard Littlejohn in the Daily Mail, a leading UK tabloid.
Three trans victims of biased reporting spoke of their experiences at the meeting today (24 May), in one of the House of Commons committee rooms, attended by 13 Members of Parliament (MPs).
Teraina Hird, Delia Johnson and Dru Marland spoke of their experiences at the hands of the press, the stress caused and the fact the publicity almost led to one of them losing their job.
While trans media expert and GSN contributor, Jane Fae, spoke about the problems with the complaints process the press has in place, which makes resolving problems very difficult.
Fae told GSN: ‘It takes 20 minutes to put an inaccuracy into the press. It can take three months to get it taken out again.’
Helen Belcher, one of the meeting’s organizers from Trans Media Watch, who is also a GSN contributor, said tabloid newspapers the Daily Mail and The Sun ‘tend to get more mentions than any other’ but the problem went across the media – from specialist fashion press to local newspapers.
She told GSN: ‘What we wanted to do was to widen the debate and depersonalize it rather than to concentrate on Richard Littlejohn and Lucy Meadows.
‘The level of harassment Lucy faced and the level of misrepresentation and subsequent consequences are sadly not infrequent enough.
‘I think the idea that a trans group held a meeting like that in parliament and had front bench MPs, government ministers and people from across all parties in the Commons and even a member of the House of Lords attend shows the level of concern about this is widespread. Today is a busy day in parliament and people took time out at short notice to attend.’
Littlejohn’s column in the Daily Mail had suggested Meadows should not be a teacher as she was exposing her young pupils to her sexuality.
But after her death, the school held a rally to honor their ‘wonderful teacher’ and one seven year-old wrote a poem praising her.