A primary school teacher in the early stages of a sex change has been found dead just weeks after it was announced he would be starting the spring term as a woman.
The body of Lucy Meadows, previously Nathan Upton, was found at her home in Accrington, Lancashire, on Tuesday. Police said there were no suspicious circumstances.
She worked as St Mary Magdalen's Church of England School in Accrington where her death was announced to pupils and teachers.
The announcement just before Christmas that the teacher was undergoing gender reassignment and would to return to work in the new year dressed as a woman provoked a mini-storm among elements of the media.
In one article published by the Daily Mail, columnist Richard Littlejohn railed: “He isn't entitled to project his personal problems on to impressionable young children.
”By insisting on returning to St Mary Magdalen's, he is putting his own selfish needs ahead of the well-being of the children he has taught for the past few years.“ The article was tonight inaccessible on the MailOnline website.
Head teacher Karen Hardman said in a statement posted on the school's website following the teacher's death: ”It is with great sadness that I have to inform you of the death of Miss Lucy Meadows.
“Our staff will be working closely with bereavement teams and are here to offer the children and yourselves any support in any way we can.”
Pupils were told just before Christmas that Mr Upton would be returning to work in the New Year as Miss Meadows. She said in a statement: “This has been a long and difficult journey for me, and it was certainly not an easy decision to make.”
The announcement that Miss Meadows was undergoing gender realignment was met with a mixed reaction among parents. Some felt children at the school were “too young to be dealing with that” but others praised the school's handling of the issue. One mother was quoted by the Mail as saying: “My children are happy. I don't see anything wrong with it. He's not the first and he won't be the last.”
A spokesman for the Blackburn Diocese Board of Education said after learning of the discovery of the teacher's body: “We are deeply saddened to hear the news about Lucy Meadows. Our thoughts and prayers go out first to her family and friends at this extremely difficult time.
”Also in our prayers are the staff and pupils at the school for whom this news will have been a tremendous shock.
“Lucy was a valued and well-liked member of the team at St Mary Magdalen's and her loss will be felt deeply by everyone associated with the school.”
A spokeswoman for Lancashire Police said: “At 4.45pm on Tuesday, police were called by the ambulance service to a report of a sudden death at an address on Ramsbottom Street in Accrington.
”On arrival they found the body of a 32-year-old woman. There are no suspicious circumstances and a file will be prepared and passed to the coroner.“