Big Lottery Fund to review grant to transgender charity after criticism 

18 Dec 2018 News

The Big Lottery Fund (BLF) has said it will review a grant to Mermaids after the transgender charity was criticised in the Sunday Times. 

In a statement, Mermaids said it “welcomes all levels of scrutiny” and will provide BLF with any additional information it needs. 

Over the weekend the Sunday Times reported that the charity was set to receive £500,000 and that this had “angered MPs, feminists and women’s organisations”. 

It quoted David Davis, the Conservative MP for Monmouth, as being “horrified”. 

Mermaids is a transgender support charity for children, young people and their families. It was founded in 1995 and runs a telephone helpline, support groups for young people and parents and has held talks in schools. The charity has been critical of NHS policy.

Mermaids has been criticised by Transgender Trend, a group that campaigns against the teaching of transgender issues in schools. Stephanie Davies-Arai, from the group, told the Times: “Funding this agenda will lead to more young people who regret such life-changing harms to their bodies.”

The Sunday Times has previously published critical stories about Mermaids and issued a clarification to a story published in October 2017 after the charity complained to the press regulator Ipso. 

BLF review after ‘nature and volume of communication’ 

The BLF said that it had taken the decision to review its grant because of the “nature and volume” of concerns raised with it. 

“We have received a range of correspondence in relation to a proposed grant to Mermaids, expressing both concern and support regarding this organisation. We’re grateful to those who have taken the time to write to us, and in light of the nature and volume of the communication we have received, we have decided to undertake a review of this grant,” it said.

Mermaids: ‘We are disappointed this is necessary’ 

In a statement, the charity said: “Mermaids welcomes all levels of scrutiny into the charity and the services that we deliver to families and young people, and are determined to continue to support trans children to achieve a better future. We want to reassure all parents that access our support that we will continue to be there for you and your children.

“We are very proud of the work that we do, and would like to thank our supporters, including our individual donors and funders who have made this enormously important work possible.

“Whilst we are disappointed that this is necessary, Mermaids understands that the volume of correspondence, both positive and negative, received by Big Lottery has necessitated a review of the grant that we were notified of last week.

“It is unfortunate that transgender children and young people continue to be a largely misunderstood population, and we understand that misinformation about the reality for trans kids is at the heart of this. Perhaps this review will reveal more about the very real challenges faced daily by families and young people, and help to foster understanding and acceptance.

“We look forward to the outcome of this review and will work with Big Lottery to provide them with any additional information they require, as and when needed.” 

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