October 13, 2022
October 13, 2022

Charity Commission investigating Mermaids, a Trans youth charity over safeguarding concerns

Following receipt of a number of allegations against the Trans youth charity Mermaids, the Charity Commission has now confirmed that it has opened a case into the charity’s actions.

The Commission confirmed that “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.” This step by the Commission initiates an investigation into Mermaids to examine whether wrongdoing has occurred.

Allegations against Mermaid

The safeguarding allegations are likely related to the charity’s ‘free binder scheme.’ The scheme, which has been running since 2019, reportedly saw Mermaids staff offering chest-flattening devices to children as young as 13 without their parent’s consent or knowledge, according to a report by The Telegraph.

Chest biding can cause problems including breathing difficulties, chronic back pain, changes to the spine and broken ribs.

Allegations have also been made about the accuracy of the information Mermaids offers to online users about treatment provisions including the use of puberty blockers, feminising or masculinising hormones and gender-affirming surgery.

These allegations come with the backdrop of widespread criticisms about the current provision of healthcare in the UK for Trans youth.

According to The Telegraph report[1] the Metropolitan Police said that whilst “the supply of a breast-binder on its own is not a criminal offence”, it would “investigate jointly with social services as potential child abuse” any report of “someone using a breast binder or undergoing the practice of breast ironing”.

The Prime Minister, Liz Truss, during Prime Minister’s Questions, said in response to the allegations that “it is very important that under 18s are able to develop their own decision-making capabilities and not be forced into any kind of activity” and “… that those matters should be raised and properly looked at”. According to a report in The Telegraph[2], Ms Truss supports calls for a police investigation into Mermaids.

NHS England report

In 2020, NHS England commissioned an investigation into the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust, which resulted in a decision to close the children and youth services provided by Tavistock. From spring next year, we are likely to see the services being localised. The published interim report identified a number of serious concerns about the services, including a predominantly affirmative approach to gender dysphoria and a lack of normal quality controls.

Since the Interim Report was published, a number of service attendees who have relied on the Tavistock and Portman Trust for gender guidance and treatment have raised concerns about the services provided and find themselves left with irreversible and life changing consequences as a result of taking hormone blockers and/or masculinising and feminising hormones.

If you, or someone you know, has concerns about the treatment they received at Tavistock and would like more information, please get in touch with Pogust Goodhead lawyers. 

[1] The Telegraph, ‘Trans charity Mermaids to be investigated by Charity Commission, 29 September 2022

[2] The Telegraph, ‘Liz Truss supports calls for police investigation into Mermaids trans charity’, 12 October 2022

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