The suicide last year of teacher Lucy Meadows, who had transitioned to live as a woman, shocked many people. It led to some in the media to ask if the coverage given to transgender issues, and the people involved, could not be a little more reasoned, maybe more sensitive. It also led to protests outside Northcliffe House, as one of the Daily Mail’s pundits was intimately involved in the affair.
That pundit, to no surprise at all, was the tedious and unfunny Richard Littlejohn, who had opined with his customary level of subject understanding “He’s not only in the wrong body, he’s in the wrong job”. To no surprise, the obedient hackery of the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre played the victim. But the subsequent silence and reflection would only last until the next transgender story came along.
And so it came to pass that former boxing promoter Frank Maloney took the decision to undergo gender reassignment surgery and transition to live as a woman. Now, with Kellie Maloney, the press has not just another trans story, but one involving a well-known person. So where is the more understanding, more measured approach to trans issues that was going to follow Lucy Meadows’ suicide?
The answer is that, for some of the Fourth Estate at least, it has yet to arrive. That the Mirror had the story only spurred Rupe’s downmarket troops at the Super Soaraway Currant Bun on to greater depths, with “Boxing Sensation [not after retirement last year, folks] Frankly I Don’t Give A Dame ... Sex-Op Maloney Defiant”. Well, Kellie wouldn’t have fitted the headline. They should care.
Over at the Mirror, things are, shall we say, less bad: “Agony Of Boxing Legend Frank ... Secret life as a woman drove me to suicide bid”. A hint there that the Sun managed to miss, then. Readers are also told of “Maloney’s booze & pills cocktail ... Lennox Lewis’s shock at sex change”. What Lewis actually said is more nuanced.
“Having taken some time to read Kellie's statements, I understand better what she, and others in similar situations, are going through. I think that all people should be allowed to live their lives in a way that brings them harmony and inner peace. I respect Kellie's decision and say that if this is what brings about true happiness in her life, then so be it”. Fair play to Lennox Lewis.
One silver lining in the story is that the Mail is trying to understand trans issues: “Former boxing promoter Frank Maloney, who is now living as a woman, has said her transgender struggle led her to attempt suicide. Maloney, who was last night backed by Lewis and other sporting personalities for telling her story, told how she could not cope with leading a double life”. One sinner that repenteth, perhaps.
The Mail may have stopped and thought this time. But for too many others, it is as if the sad story of Lucy Meadows never happened. And that’s not good enough.