On Thursday 22 September, we were alerted to an upcoming piece in the Telegraph about Mermaids.
We made the decision not to respond to the journalist’s request for comment but wanted to clarify our stance and offer some reassurance to anyone who might have concerns about some of the issues raised.
Access to the forums
We have robust security and moderation processes in place to ensure our forums are a safe space for trans, non-binary and gender diverse young people and their families. In August 2022, an individual – possibly a journalist – tried to gain access to the Youth forums by pretending to be a 14-year-old in need of support, seemingly with the aim of discrediting Mermaids. This person was caught in the moderation process and has since been blocked. Security of our platforms and safeguarding of young people is of the utmost importance to us and we will continue to regularly review our processes and procedures to make sure our forums remain safe and secure.
Some trans masculine, non-binary and gender diverse people experience bodily dysphoria, as a result of their chest, and binding, for some, helps alleviate that distress. Mermaids takes a harm reduction position with the understanding that providing a young person with a binder and comprehensive safety guidelines from an experienced member of staff is preferable to the likely alternative of unsafe practices and/or continued or increasing dysphoria. The risk is considered by Mermaids staff within the context of our safeguarding framework. More on binder safety can be found here.
Puberty blockers are an internationally recognised safe, reversible healthcare option which have been recommended by medical authorities in the UK and internationally for decades. They have been used to treat precocious (i.e. early) puberty in children, and adults as part of treatment for some hormone-dependent cancers, and for conditions such as endometriosis. They have been prescribed to trans young people since 1988. As noted by GIDS and medical experts, blockers are physically reversible when treatment is stopped. Puberty blockers allow a young person to consider their options while exploring their gender identity, as well as alleviating the distress of gender dysphoria.