The NHS trust that will take over the care of children who believe themselves to be transgender after England’s controversial Tavistock gender clinic closes its doors later this year is receiving training from the disgraced trans charity Mermaids.
According to The Telegraph, staff at the South London and Maudsley (SLaM) NHS Trust will be receiving training from Mermaids beginning later this month. This announcement comes in spite of the fact that Mermaids is currently under formal investigation by the Charity Commission due to serious safeguarding allegations raised last year.
Those allegations include Mermaids staff members secretly sending dangerous chest compression devices to teenage girls who identify as boys, even while knowing that this was against parents’ wishes. As well, chat forum moderators are accused of encouraging children to take puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones, and were allegedly giving out inaccurate medical advice, such as claiming that puberty blockers are fully reversible.
Then there was the revelation that a member of the Mermaids board of trustees had given a speech at a conference held by a group which advocates for pedophile acceptance, which indicates serious failings in its screening process.
SLaM maintains that Mermaids have not been invited to train the staff who will work in the new gender identity clinic, instead stating that the training is part of an “LGBT+ awareness” program.
The new clinic will be one of several regional centers set up to better handle the complex mental health needs of children who believe themselves to be transgender. The new centers are to be set up after an independent review of England’s Tavistock gender clinic found it was not a safe or viable option for this vulnerable patient cohort.
Experts have expressed concern about the controversial trans activist group having any involvement in the new regional centers.
Sue Evans, a former clinician at the Tavistock, was the first whistleblower to raise red flags about the service back in 2005.
“My experience was that groups like Mermaids exerted pressure on the clinical service which was not always helpful in terms of thinking about patients holistically,” Evans told The Telegraph. “Given that Hilary Cass has asked for care to be evidence-based and holistic, I have serious concerns about Mermaids providing training to staff at SLaM.”
“I have not seen their current training materials yet, but based on past experience I would be concerned that they would be promoting an affirmation-only model which lacks an evidence base and does not take into account the complexities of children’s needs and backgrounds. The Mermaids teaching materials that I have seen were inaccurate and misleading,” Evans continued.
The affirmation model is the model of care favored by gender clinics in the US and Canada, but is rapidly falling out of favor elsewhere in the world. The model requires that a child’s transgender identity be immediately affirmed and any exploration or attempt to help the child overcome their distress is forbidden, and in Canada would be considered conversion therapy. Gender-affirming clinicians fast-track children onto experimental puberty blockers despite there being no good quality evidence to support this protocol.
Consultant psychotherapist Dr Marcus Evans, also an early Tavistock whistleblower, told The Telegraph: “There are a lot of parents who are already worried after Tavistock said it would be involved in advising the new service providers, and now Mermaids is offering training as well.”
“The old service system is discredited. We need a completely different approach that avoids preoccupation with gender to the exclusion of all other facets of the family, child and young person’s personality and development,” Evans added.
“This training is not related to the development of an early adopter service for children and young people experiencing gender incongruence and gender dysphoria,” said SLaM in a statement. “We commission as well as directly provide high-quality professional training courses from a wide range of providers as part of our training offer for our staff to further support the provision of personalised, safe and therapeutic care for young people and adults using mental health services.”