No, trans youth charity Mermaids isn’t being investigated by the Charity Commission

An activist raises a placard saying "protect trans kids" during a protest.

Rumours that the Charity Commission is “investigating” trans youth charity Mermaids over safeguarding concerns are false.

On Monday (26 September), The Telegraph published a story headlined: “Trans charity faces watchdog scrutiny amid child chest-binding revelations”.

The article followed up a previous story, branded by The Telegraph as an “investigation”, which relied entirely on an unidentified adult masquerading as a 14-year-old child to access services from Mermaids, including the charity’s youth forum and web chat helpline.

In its “investigation”, The Telegraph claimed that “staff with no medical training” at the charity were giving “dangerous chest-flattening devices to children”.

Binders, the “devices” in question, are garments similar to a sports bra that can be worn safely to reduce the appearance of breasts.

They do not need to be prescribed by medical professionals, and Mermaids explained: “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.”

But now, in its follow-up article, the newspaper has suggested that Mermaids is under “scrutiny” by the Charity Commission, sparking rumours that the charity is being “investigated”.

Anti-trans author Helen Joyce took to Twitter to claim: “Thank goodness. The Charity Commission is investigating Mermaids, not before time.”

However, the Charity Commission confirmed in a statement that there is no investigation into Mermaids at this time.

“In general, allegations involving vulnerable young people are serious in nature and our guidance is clear – safeguarding should be a core priority for all charities and trustees,” a spokesperson said.

“We are aware of concerns about Mermaids’ service provision and are assessing the information to determine whether or not this is a matter for the commission.”

The Charity Commission is currently defending its decision last year to register the anti-trans lobby group LGB Alliance as a charity.

The appeal is being spearheaded by Mermaids, and is supported by LGBT+ Consortium, Gendered Intelligence, LGBT Foundation, TransActual and Good Law Project.

Evidence sessions took place this month and the tribunal will continue in November.