Mermaids UK is a British charity for children of incongruent gender. They've had rather harsh treatment by the media recently.
Mermaids is a the only national charity offering support, to gender questioning and transgender children, young people and their families in the UK. Mermaids were awarded a National Diversity Award in 2016 and have been nominated for four other awards for the work they do in supporting children and their families to gender questioning and transgender children as well as education and expert support to organisations nationally. Mermaids work at a local, regional and national level to improve outcomes for these children as well with government bodies
Especially harsh in its treatment of the charity was The Sunday Times. Mermaids has issued a statement:
Mermaids was recently approached by a journalist with a series of enquiries concerning Mermaids’ involvement with the court judgement following the case of ‘Child J’ in October 2016. The case was covered extensively in the national media at the time.
The story published today in the Sunday Times (8/10/17) refers to this case and references Mermaids. Mermaids supported the mother during the court case, although none of our representatives were present at any of the proceedings as they were conducted in a ‘closed family court’. While the court documents have been sealed, a public summary judgement can be found here: http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Fam/2016/2430.html
Contrary to what is implied in the Times article, Mermaids has not been banned from contact with the child by the high court, and Mermaids was directly referenced only once during proceedings, to state that the mother had been receiving support from the charity. Following the proceedings, the mother informed us that the judge had ordered the child should have no further contact with the charity. While we have not received any legal notice to support this statement, we have respected this request.
We are disappointed to note that while we informed the journalist of the above facts, they have chosen to publish this article. While we appreciate that there is currently an interest by the media in transgender children, it is very unhelpful to publish an article which could undermine the only national charity supporting them.
All of us engaged with gender diversity and supporting gender-questioning and transgender youth are familiar with negative reactions based on ignorance, fear and prejudice. This makes it even more important that the UK media report on this subject in a truthful and non-sensational manner.
While Mermaids has been recognised by, and received numerous awards from respected institutions, the impact of such negative reporting has a direct impact on the families and young people we support.
Mermaids will continue to offer much needed support to families and young people, and to provide education and guidance to organisations and professionals, and maintain our objective to strive towards making the world a fully accepting and inclusive place for gender non-conforming and transgender children and young people.
Mermaids is in active discussion with a lawyer regarding misinformation in the Sunday Times article.
On Wednesday (which just happened to be National Coming Out Day in the US), The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry acknowledged the important work of the charity at Buckingham Palace.
The event was hosted by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry, who have led the Heads Together campaign to tackle stigma around mental health.
The royal event was held to “to acknowledge the contribution of those working in the mental health sector in the U.K.”
Following a rough few days of media mayhem, it is a huge honour to be invited to represent Mermaids and all the work we do at Buckingham Palace today.
Kate, Will and Harry have made their commitment to mental health very clear, and although gender dysphoria is not a mental illness, unfortunately, due to massive prejudice and ignorance, discrimination is still rife and young people and their families are suffering because of this.
--Susie Green, Mermaids UK CEO
Being recognised by the royal family is a huge boost to Mermaids, and the dedicated team of volunteers, staff and trustees that make our work possible.
Our detractors try to play down the suicide attempt stats, the bullying and the self-harm, why?
But for Mermaids, and for me as CEO, this is recognition of the fact that we are making an impact, and as the voice for so many families and young people unable to speak out for fear of repercussions against themselves and their children, we are thankful that gender variant and transgender children are being recognised, and our work on their behalf valued.