The Times is at the center of a transphobic bullying storm after the respected national newspaper carried a whole series of articles about a teenager – in the space of just two weeks. Transgender Lily Madigan took to social media to beg journalists to end reports about her, insisting her mental health is being impacted under the relentless attention of the media spotlight.
The student, 19, was first noticed by the Rupert Murdoch-owned paper when she was elected as the woman’s officer for Rochester and Strood, in Kent, after being involved in a campaign to oust the lesbian woman previously in the role.
A fellow Labour member in Kent revealed to RT UK that Lily contacted the Times herself, after being proud of her election to the voluntary position.
However, since then, the paper has appeared to follow her every move, sparking outrage from journalist and commentator Owen Jones, trans rights activists, and scores of angered social media users.
Please stop. I can’t handle it anymore. I’m so mentally distressed that I can’t sleep or eat or go to school. No one deserves this. There’s only so many times I can read lies or my deadname or misgendering. I’m just a teenager. Please just stop. I don’t want to do this anymore.
— Lily Madigan (@madigan_lily) December 5, 2017
On November 15, an article was titled ‘Labour officials quit in transgender dispute’ explaining how members of a council committee stood down over Lily’s appointment. Five days later an article entitled ‘Trans teenager Lily Madigan voted in as a Labour women’s officer’ was printed.
On November 25, news was carried about Lily applying to be part of a Labour training program, titled ‘Trans teenager Lily Madigan applies for Jo Cox women’s leadership scheme’.
The next day, another article came, under the headline ‘Lily Madigan: I’m a transgender teen agitator; I make an ideal Labour women’s officer’.
On November 29, trans activist Debbie Hayton wrote an article titles ‘We transgender women cannot self identify our sex’ in which she questioned the right of trans women to take on specialist female roles.
With every article came a stream of abuse over Twitter and Facebook, prompting a huge row over whether a trans woman can have a role representing all women, such as Lily was elected to by Labour Party members.
Vile messages called her a man and insisted she “stole a woman’s job” and has “no right” and “no experience” to be the voice of women. Lily herself issued an urgent plea to end the media attention.
“Please stop. I can’t handle it anymore. I’m so mentally distressed that I can’t sleep or eat or go to school. No one deserves this. There’s only so many times I can read lies or my deadname or misgendering. I’m just a teenager. Please just stop. I don’t want to do this anymore,” she tweeted.
The anguished cry for help angered left-wing activists who labelled the paper “bigoted.” Author, commentator and activist Owen Jones was among them.
“I hope the transphobes, including The Times newspaper, are proud of themselves for vindictively bullying this 19 year old girl. All my solidarity, Lily. The bigots are going to lose, and what’s more, they know it,” he wrote.
Others slammed the paper for their coverage which included a comment piece from a trans woman.
After every article Lily was attacked online. It later emerged a previous Twitter account in Lily’s name made jokes about blowjobs, rape and Jimmy Savile.
Lily denies the account was ever hers, but the image is her as a boy named Liam making an offensive gesture, and, among those who spoke with the account in 2013 was Lily’s own brother, casting doubt on her story. However, she was backed by the Labour Party – but mercilessly abused online.
Women who were on the Jo Cox program stood up for Lily and wrote a letter to The Times, but it was not published.
“Nothing newsworthy about a trans woman applying for the Jo Cox scheme, shame on The Times for trying to make out like there’s anything wrong with it,” one woman wrote.
“Best of luck to Lily and the rest of the applicants.”
“Very pleased to see that my local MP has signed this letter. As for the @thetimes shame on you for not publishing the letter, whatever happened to the fair and balanced reporting The Times was known for?” another said.
Lily, who has met Jeremy Corbyn, is hoping to become the first ever trans MP.