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Primary Education News
News Hundreds gather outside Daily Mail offices for Lucy Meadows vigil
Members of transgender community and others stand in freezing cold to remember teacher who killed herself
Up to 300 members of the transgender community and supporters gathered outside the Daily Mail headquarters this evening to hold a vigil in memory of Lucy Meadows, the primary school teacher who was found dead last Tuesday after her gender transition was made public by the media.
The candlelit vigil was organised at a grassroots level and even the Facebook event organisers did not know where the idea for it originated. Demonstrators of all walks of life attended the event, carrying candles and placards with messages such as "I am not afraid".
A group of demonstrators started chanting "Shame on you" to occupants of the Daily Mail's Northcliffe House, in Kensington – but they were swiftly quietened by activists who wanted the vigil to be peaceful.
Transgender activist Natacha Kennedy, an ex-primary school teacher who quit her job in 2007 because she thought it would be too risky to come out as a member of the transgender community, said the event was completely spontaneous.
"Normally someone like me does the organising. It just seems to have sprung up by people I don't know and not regular trans activists. I'm quite amazed by the response of a lot of people who are not transgender," she said.
Kennedy believes the Daily Mail's coverage of Meadows must have contributed to her death. "Primary school teaching is the most stressful job," she said. "The sort of pressure Lucy would have been under would have been enormous."
Children at C of E school St Mary Magdalen's in Accrington, Lancashire, were informed in December that their teacher, Nathan Upton, would transition to live as a woman over the Christmas break and return as Lucy Meadows. Local and later national press picked up the story, and Richard Littlejohn's comment in the Daily Mail, 'He's not only in the wrong body … he's in the wrong job', has received much criticism.
Meadows contacted the PCC in January to complain about the way she had been treated in the press. Her death on Tuesday is not being treated as suspicious, and it is believed she committed suicide.
Jane Fae, a campaigning journalist, said the issue was not about apportioning blame for Meadows' death, but about how she was treated in life and after her death – when some tabloids "were still writing about her as a man".
Helen Belcher, director of TransMedia Watch, an organisation that monitors representation of transgender people in the media, said that press coverage had been more virulent since Leveson released his report. "It feels to me like they're sticking two fingers up at Leveson."
Some demonstrators had travelled from across the country to attend. Kai Weston, 23, last year's transgender representative for Birmingham University's LGBT society, said he believed the turnout at the vigil showed that the transgender community was getting better at empowering itself, and that more people felt comfortable speaking out against abuses against their freedoms.
David Mudkipz, 32, who works in PR, was keen to assert as a straight white male from Surrey that the many of the non-transgender community were fully behind the campaign against the Daily Mail's treatment of minority groups. The tabloids are "isolating so many people that are very vulnerable", he said.
Graham Jones, Labour MP for Hyndburn, also came to offer his support. "I think it's fantastic that so many people have turned out for my constituent, from all walks of life. It just goes to show that people are willing to stand up to the oppression of the press – and on a freezing cold London night."
Jones said he believed that "Leveson failed to tackle the issue of freedom for the reader – freedom to read balanced articles. I'm not sure he fully understood what he was doing. He added that local papers also needed to take their share of the blame.