Thursday 29 September 2022 02:14 AM Trans charity Mermaids is a scandal unfolding before our eyes trends now

Thursday 29 September 2022 02:14 AM Trans charity Mermaids is a scandal unfolding before our eyes trends now
Thursday 29 September 2022 02:14 AM Trans charity Mermaids is a scandal unfolding before our eyes trends now

Thursday 29 September 2022 02:14 AM Trans charity Mermaids is a scandal unfolding before our eyes trends now

Like many troubled adolescents, the 13-year-old who logged on to an online forum was looking for guidance and support.

Calling themselves a 'female to male trans' person, they spoke of their physical self-loathing.

They were desperate, they said, to wear both a 'packer' — used to create the impression of male genitalia — and a 'binder', an item of clothing designed to flatten and constrict the breasts, and which can cause serious health issues.

'The thing is, my mum won't let me,' they wrote of the binder in 2019. 'She says it's neglect to do it for under-18s.'

No binder? No problem. The chatroom moderator offered to send the item to the troubled teenager — behind their mother's back.

Many would feel that such an intervention was questionable from any source. But this wasn't just an anonymous nobody — the offer came from Mermaids, a registered UK charity for 'gender variant' and transgender children.

It's an organisation that has received some £500,000 in National Lottery funding and more than £20,000 in government grants over the years, including being hired by the Department for Education to provide training on 'gender identity' in schools.

Concerns about Mermaids were magnified in 2016, following the appointment as CEO of Susie Green, a former IT consultant with no medical training

Concerns about Mermaids were magnified in 2016, following the appointment as CEO of Susie Green, a former IT consultant with no medical training

This chatroom intervention is far from the only concerning activity at an organisation that has, in recent years, shot to national prominence, thanks to support from leading corporations and celebrities — including Prince Harry.

An extensive investigation by the Mail can now reveal a consistent stream of questionable — if not dangerous — material being circulated by the charity and those working for it.

In the past month alone, its online help centre has told users (who say they are young as 13) that controversial hormone-blocking drugs are safe and 'totally reversible'. 

Mermaids repeated such claims when approached by the Mail, saying the drugs are 'an internationally recognised safe [and] reversible healthcare option', yet current NHS guidelines say 'little is known about the long-term side effects'.

Elsewhere on its chatrooms, a Mermaids moderator publicly congratulated a 13-year-old who had written on the website that they were transgender and wanted drugs and 'all the surgeries'.

Evidence also suggests Mermaids has been running a free 'binder scheme' since at least 2019, sending the items to adolescents who say their parents oppose the practice.

Mermaids told the Mail it takes 'a harm reduction position… with the understanding that providing a young person with a binder alongside comprehensive safety guidelines from an experienced member of staff is preferable to the likely alternative of unsafe practices… or increasing dysphoria'.

In an instance where a Mermaids chatroom operator believed they were speaking with a 14-year-old, the charity asked that safety guidelines be agreed before the binder was sent. 

Yet all this comes despite the fact that Dr Hilary Cass, the former president of the Royal College of Paediatrics who is leading a review of trans children's services for the NHS, has described the restrictive garments as 'painful and potentially harmful'.

The Metropolitan Police has also confirmed that if instances of minors using binders are reported, they will be treated as potential cases of child abuse. (Binders have been shown to cause instances of breathing difficulties, chronic back pain, and even changes to the spine and broken ribs.)

Amid mounting criticism — including from author and women's rights campaigner JK Rowling who tweeted on Monday that those who have 'been cheering Mermaids on without doing the slightest bit of due diligence' should feel ashamed — the Charity Commission said this week it would be taking a closer look at Mermaids.

These revelations then will undoubtedly cast doubts over the influence and reach of the charity, whose close-knit relationship with London's discredited Tavistock Gender Identity Clinic has been repeatedly highlighted by former clinicians turned whistle-blowers over the years.

Tavistock is set to close its doors next year, following a review in July by Dr Cass, that found the centre's treatment to be unsafe.

Some critics are now calling for Mermaids to be shut down, too.

'It has always claimed not to give advice for medical issues and yet its chatrooms consistently show people giving advice, often behind parents' backs. 

It has not been fit for purpose for a long time,' says Stephanie Davies-Arai of Transgender Trend, an organisation of parents, professionals and academics concerned about the current trend to diagnose children as transgender.

Set up in 1995 with the stated intention of supporting 'transgender, non-binary and gender-diverse children, young people, and their families', Mermaids has undoubtedly provided vital help over the years to children in need of support on gender-related issues.

Yet it has also long proved controversial, not least for what is seen as its largely unquestioning approach towards young children who are confused about their gender and its promotion of the idea — cited on its website — that children can be 'given' the wrong gender at birth.

Binders (pictured) are items of clothing designed to flatten and constrict the breasts, which can cause serious health issues

Binders (pictured) are items of clothing designed to flatten and constrict the breasts, which can cause serious health issues

Concerns about the charity were magnified in 2016, following the appointment as CEO of Susie Green, a former IT consultant with no medical training who had first contacted Mermaids for advice in 1999.

In a story told with almost evangelical fervour by Green — including in a 2018 TED talk — she relates how she helped her son Jack become her daughter Jackie, now 29, by taking her to the U.S. aged 12 for puberty-blocking drugs. When Jackie was 16, Green took her to Thailand for gender reassignment surgery.

Green's appointment caused huge disquiet in many quarters — but this did not stop Mermaid's public influence and prominence from increasing exponentially, rubber-stamped by a lottery grant in 2019 to the tune of half a million pounds.

That same year, the charity received the endorsement of Prince Harry, who met with Green and invited the charity to join his Royal Foundation's work on mental health. 

Soon after, the coffee giant Starbucks announced a fundraising partnership with Mermaids. In the background, however, concerns were mounting among clinicians at Tavistock about the influence of Mermaids on NHS practice.

Among

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