Trans charity Mermaids is not being investigated despite right-wing media reports
Author: Lily Wakefield
Mermaids marches at Pride in London, 2019. (Barcroft Media via Getty/ Wiktor Szymanowicz)
Trans youth charity Mermaids is still not being investigated by the Charity Commission over “safeguarding red flags”, despite relentless media reports.
On Thursday (29 September), The Telegraph published yet another story on the charity, which provides support to young trans people and their families, headlined: “Exclusive: Trans charity Mermaids to be investigated by Charity Commission.”
Except, Mermaids is not being investigated by the Charity Commission.
The charities regulator has opened a “regulatory compliance case” after multiple complaints were made about the charity, following a Telegraph “investigation”.
This “investigation” relied entirely on an unidentified adult masquerading as a 14-year-old child to access services from Mermaids, including the charity’s youth forum and web chat helpline, and claimed that the charity was “giving breast binders to children behind parents’ backs”.
In its initial story, the newspaper included quotes from anti-trans campaigners like Transgender Trend founder Stephanie Davies-Arai, and MPs Joanna Cherry and Miriam Cates, who claimed the “investigation” raised “huge safeguarding red flags”
But in a statement, the commission explained: “Concerns have been raised with us about Mermaids’ approach to safeguarding young people. We have opened a regulatory compliance case, and have written to the trustees. We now await their reply.”
A regulatory compliance case allows the commission to assess complaints against a framework, but does not constitute a finding of wrongdoing.
An actual investigation into wrongdoing by the Charity Commission is known as a statutory inquiry, which the commission has confirmed to PinkNews is not underway.
‘Individuals who choose to wear a binder are not committing a criminal offence’
Over the last week, The Telegraph has published a flurry of articles painting Mermaids as dangerous to children.
One such article suggested that chest binding could constitute “child abuse”, and irresponsibly conflated binders with “breast ironing”, widely accepted as an abusive practice and largely practiced in parts of Africa by families trying to prevent pregnancy and rape, and deter unwanted attention from men.
According to the National FGM Centre: “In some families, large stones, a hammer or spatula that have been heated over scorching coals can be used to compress the breast tissue. Other families may use an elastic belt or binder to press the breasts so as to prevent them from growing.”
Conversely, binders are garments similar to a sports bra that can be worn safely to reduce the appearance of breasts.
Official statement from the Met @metpoliceuk !
This confirms that the fear mongering conspiratorial nonsense from transphobic campaigners attacking @Mermaids_Gender for supporting trans youths is exactly that – nonsense.
It is in no way criminal or abusive. pic.twitter.com/1IhvbTYadj
— Trans Activism UK (@TransActivismUK) September 29, 2022
In a statement released via Trans Activism UK, the Met Police said: “The supply of a breast binder is not a criminal offence.
“The Met support transgender and gender diverse individuals who freely choose to wear a breast binder.
“If an individual case regarding the practice of breast ironing, or concern regarding the use of a breast binder is reported to police, it may be assessed jointly with social services. The same approach would be taken regardless of culture, faith or community to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the individual concerned.
“We would like to reassure individuals who chooses to wear a binder are not committing a criminal offence.”
Actual Story on Pink News
Author: Lily Wakefield