Artillery Row

Don’t forget about Mermaids

Stonewall’s younger sibling compares their opponents to the Nazis

First, they told us children would kill themselves if they weren’t affirmed in their childish imaginings. Secondly, they tried to haul ideological opponents through the courts. Thirdly, they branded those who disagreed with them fascists. These are the actions of Mermaids, a charity at the heart of the establishment, an organisation that enjoys the support of celebrities, royals and police forces. Last week Mermaids took the first steps towards legal action against the registration of the LGB Alliance as a charity, the only organisation advocating solely for same-sex attracted people. 

Like its beleaguered older sibling Stonewall, Mermaids began with a simple aim before becoming embroiled in the culture wars around transgender identities. Mermaids advertises itself as “helping gender-diverse kids, young people and their families.” When the service started in 1995, blogs by young transexuals recommended caution about any treatments for youth with gender dysphoria. Gender dysphoria is a psychiatric condition whereby people feel discomfort in their sexed bodies; a disproportionate number of children who suffer are autistic, traumatised or will grow-up to be same-sex attracted.

Under the guidance of chief executive Susie Green, Mermaids has shifted into lobbying. Green has repeatedly said that the prescription of drugs to block puberty have proven to be “life saving” freeing “trans children” from puberty, (though when questioned on the BBC’s Newsnight last year she admitted that this was based on anecdotal evidence). 

New research has disproved the claim that drugs to block puberty are harmless

In briefings to politicians the charity claimed that 48 per cent of transgender youth are reported to have attempted to kill themselves. This figure has been robustly questioned, as it emanates from a study of 27 self-selected young trans people, 13 of whom reported having attempted suicide at some point in the past. 

Mermaids has advocated for legal changes. These include the right of children to take legal action, without parental consent, against schools which do not refer to them by their chosen names and pronouns, the provision of cross-sex hormones for those under 16, and a ban on any therapeutic treatment that does not affirm a child’s cross-sex or non-binary identity. More worryingly, Mermaids have attempted to silence and smear those who question their ideologically-driven approach.

Over recent years court rulings and new research have disproved the claim that drugs to block puberty are harmless and fully reversible. In December 2020 three High Court judges reviewed the evidence and ruled that puberty blocking medication was “experimental” and that a “child under the age of eighteen cannot give informed consent to treatment with puberty blockers.” But rather than reconsider their stance, Mermaids doubled down, breathlessly claiming the ruling would cause “untold, irreparable damage to young trans people” and that it foretold of “a new era of discrimination, treating trans youth differently from all other young people and barring them from accessing life-saving care.”

This hyperbolic reaction is perhaps not surprising, Green has no qualifications befitting her role aside from being the mother of a child who underwent a sex change. In 2010 Green took her then teenage child for a sex change operation in Thailand, a procedure that it is now illegal in Thailand for minors. In an interview after the procedure Green lightly recalled that penile inversion had been difficult because “there wasn’t much there to work with” as her child’s genitals had never developed due to puberty blocking medication. 

Some have been pushed out of jobs and voluntary roles for simply asking questions

In 2017, women’s rights campaigner Kellie-Jay Keen tweeted that Green had her child castrated. Green reported her to West Yorkshire Police. In 2018 Keen was interviewed twice by the police before charges were dropped. Mermaids have enjoyed a cosy relationship with police, offering staff training across the country and benefiting from a Christmas party hosted by Merseyside constabulary.

Mermaids’ decision to launch legal action against the registration of LGB Alliance as a charity signals their deeper entrenchment in the culture wars. The LGB Alliance were awarded charitable status in April. Their decision not to include those who identify as transgender has seen the organisation branded transphobic. 

In a statement released to coincide with the attempted legal challenge Green stated: The work of the LGB Alliance is clearly designed to divide the LGBTQ+ community in an attempt to undermine and isolate trans people.”

One wonders where such a comment and action fits within Mermaids’ “overarching principles”, the first of which states: “We will campaign, but only positively championing, not denigrating or attacking people or organisations.”

Amusingly, one of Mermaids’ formal objections to the registration of the LGB Alliance as a charity is that they “may find itself competing with LGB Alliance for donations.” Whether ideological or financial, it seems Mermaids are affronted by the very idea of competition.

For many years, those voicing concerns about trans ideology have been shamed and silenced. Some, like former school governor Rev Parker, have been pushed out of jobs and voluntary roles for simply asking questions. In 2019 Mr Parker, who had been a school governor for seven years, resigned after attending a presentation “full of factual inaccuracies” by a Mermaids’ trainer. Mr Parker recalled in an interview with the Daily Mail:

I am an Oxford biologist by background so I was gobsmacked by what was being said from a biological perspective… I also knew some of the legalities of the situation and knew that the whole governing body and staff were being misled.

In response he was told by the Mermaids’ employee: “My job is to deliver training. I have done that. I don’t have to listen.”

With the culture wars rumbling on, more cases centring on the clash of sex-based and gender identity-based rights are coming before the courts. In the past politicians might be persuaded to parrot nonsense about puberty blockers being harmless, but judges tend not to be quite so easily swayed by popularist magical thinking. Thanks to the efforts of both grassroots campaigners and members of the House of Lords, the tide is rapidly turning.

Now that questions are finally being asked about the grip of Stonewall on public bodies, attention is also turning to Mermaids. It seems the celebrities that once supported them like Prince Harry and US Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are melting away and Mermaids have been left floundering under the gaze of public scrutiny. 

The strategy of transgender activists and organisations has not been to reflect or build bridges, but rather to call their opponents Nazis. The first high profile figure to do this was the beleaguered Nancy Kelley, the current chief executive of Stonewall. Confronted by the reality that the charity she heads has lost the support of lesbians, gays and bisexuals in a BBC interview, Kelley compared the belief that people can’t change sex to antisemitism. It seems transgender activists have warmed to this theme, with presenter India Willoughby claiming last week that “trans people are the new Jews.” This was followed by Mermaids, who retweeted an article headed by an image of Hitler in lipstick with the word “feminazi” next to it.

This appropriation of the suffering of Jewish people during the Holocaust is a desperate attempt to make those who ask questions feel ashamed. It has failed, and outside the shrinking world of the woke, there has been outrage at the crass attempts to smear ideological opponents. 

The grotesque truth is that for the past decade the bien pensant have nodded along with the unnecessary medical treatments which have led to the sterilisation of young people. As they begin to sense that prescribing experimental drugs to children might not have been a good idea, Mermaids are rapidly losing credibility.

After decades of leveraging dubious claims about child suicide, it seems there were few depths left for Mermaids to plumb. Dragged onto the dry land of science, sense and scrutiny; Mermaids have been exposed as peddling myths and magical-thinking. Let’s hope the Mermaids’ tale ends before any more children are lost to their perilous siren-call.

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