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Artillery Row

Catching a mermaid

The LGB Alliance judgment is a victory for open debate

With the judgment this week in the Mermaids v LGB Alliance case a number of things become clearer than ever before. One is that the decision by the trans charity Mermaids, beloved of the space-cadet LGBTQ+ lobby and their nauseously self-righteous celebrity supporters, to try to remove the charity status of gender critical gay rights group LGB Alliance was one of the most astonishing acts of self-harm in recent political history.

It may not be up there with Theresa May’s decision to call the 2017 election while being bereft of a personality, nor the Labour Party’s election as its leader a man who collected manhole covers and accusations of antisemitism, but for connoisseurs of the sweet taste of hubris this case was a honey-coated doozy.

It wasn’t just that Mermaids lost so convincingly. Two judges decided they didn’t even have standing, a legal right in other words, to challenge the charitable status of LGB Alliance — an organization (transparency alert) which I have strongly supported and occasionally worked for since it was founded. This means effectively the £350K they raised for their case was a complete waste of time and money. For them, anyway. 

Mermaids had the voluble support of the vast majority of gay celebrities (minus Martina Navratilova and the actor James Dreyfus) and all other LGBTQ+ organizations such as Stonewall. Why do they hate LGB Alliance so much? It’s because…wait for this … it argues that human beings cannot actually change sex, puberty blocker drugs shouldn’t be prescribed to confused teenagers and blokes, should stay out of women’s spaces whether or not they like wearing dresses. Such heresy I know. 

Mermaids’ case was that the LGB Alliance had been formed with one overriding and uncharitable goal: to undermine it. The problem was that their claim looked increasingly ridiculous as one story after another emerged during the case and in its immediate aftermath that suggested Mermaids was perfectly capable of undermining it itself with no help from outsiders.

These stories glaringly contradicted the evidence from Belinda Bell, the impeccably posh Chair of the Trustees. In court she rejected the argument Mermaids promoted the controversial drugs, puberty blockers, by claiming “we do not give any medical advice”.

Perhaps Bell was entirely ignorant of the fact that Mermaids has been a driving force for over two decades in advocating the ever more liberal prescription of blockers — drugs that were never properly researched for use in adolescents and which animal trials suggest impair mental function. 

Irony of ironies, this triggered a Charity Commission investigation

She should, though, probably have known that volunteers working for the charity offered, as the Telegraph later reported, medical advice about binders to girls that wanted to flatten their breasts. It was alleged these volunteers offered to keep the binders secret from parents. Irony of ironies, this triggered a Charity Commission investigation.

Bell should perhaps also have known that her own CEO, Susie Green, who sat beside her in the court every day, was a member of the World Professional Association for Transgender Health and during the trial was considering its new guidelines to which she’d eventually be a signatory which, among other things, extended the list of gender identities to eunuchs. WPATH now argues young men who want to be castrated — for its own sake and not because they think they are really a girl — have an inalienable right to do so and we should not question whether this claim of eunuch identity is the result of mental illness or traumatic childhood abuse.

Talking of child abuse. As the tribunal took a break in October 2022 a scandal broke that would probably have destroyed other lesser organisations. A recently appointed Mermaids trustee, Dr Jacob Breslow, was revealed not only to have spoken at a pro-paedophile conference but to have published a book called  – not at all worryingly — Ambivalent Childhoods

The book has a chapter even less worryingly called Desiring the Child which opens with a scene in which the author describes his excitement when a 12 year boy performs a highly sexualized dance in front of a crowd of gay men. He castigates the other men who instead of celebrating this vision of, er, queer liberation feel distinctly troubled. Breslow was fired but CEO Susie Green defended the decision to appoint him in the first place claiming Mermaids had investigated his background. This very thorough investigation did not, it seems, extend to reading Breslow’s book or his own website. 

The tribunal also clarified just why the LGBTQ+ lobby has championed No Debate as a slogan. As the policies it promotes, like Gender Self-ID, were analysed an inescapable conclusion began to form in the minds of any rational observer. Not only are these policies incoherent but the more you probe the less sense they make. Indeed some are so threadbare they are the intellectual equivalent of being dead on arrival.

Take the evidence of Paul Roberts, the CEO of something called the LGBT Consortium, who was a witness in support of Mermaids. He was asked if it was transphobic to argue, as LGB Alliance does, that a person with a vagina could not be a gay man. He said it was. 

Now look, as a fully-fledged homosexual man, I have absolutely nothing against the vagina. Some of my best friends have one. It’s also a wonder of nature. But so are volcanoes, peregrine falcons and sunflowers and I’m not angling to spend a night in bed with any of them. Roberts’ argument — that gay men can have a vagina — wasn’t some mad misstatement. This is now taught in schools where organisations like his are invited in to gaslight children. Imagine being a confused 13 year old boy who thinks he might be gay and some well-paid plonker from an LGBTQ+ organisation comes in to your school and announces that gay men can have a vagina. And -don’t forget- what does this do to straight boys? Isn’t this telling boys who have been pondering about pussy that they might also be gay? It’s absolutely insane. 

Perhaps nothing at the trial more clearly signaled the LGBTQ+ lobby’s failure to engage intellectually than the decidedly grand pomposity of the third Mermaids witness, gay MP John Nicolson. For me he exemplifies the phenomenon of gay men who come out late in life when the coast is clear and emerge dazzled by their own imagined courage. 

Maybe it’s time Mermaids and the rest of the LGBTQ+ lobby defended and debated their ideas openly

Not only did Nicolson argue lesbians can have a penis. That’s become a classic comedy line that no one other than our elected representatives and deeply creepy blokes with badly fitting wigs take seriously. Nicolson also argued that “it’s one of the most offensive things in the LGB Alliance’s submission that they say they do not believe that you can be born in the wrong body”.

Can you think of anything more dangerous to tell a child or a teenager than they have been born in the wrong body? Yet someone in our national legislature is openly declaring support for it. And he’s far from the only one.

There is a glimmer of hope though. This ruling emphasized the importance of organizations being able to promote — and respectfully oppose — a plurality of views. A democracy depends on that. Maybe it’s time Mermaids and the rest of the LGBTQ+ lobby defended and debated their ideas openly. Maybe, perish the thought, it might help them come up with some better ones.

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