Trans charity Mermaids forced to suspend ‘life-saving’ helpline due to ‘intolerable abuse’

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Trans youth charity Mermaids has been forced to close down its vital helpline for young people because of “intolerable abuse”.

The charity for young trans people and their families has faced an intense onslaught in recent weeks, from a string of articles published by The Telegraph accusing Mermaids of safeguarding issues, to scrutiny of Mermaids’ staff after they gave evidence at a tribunal questioning the charity status of anti-trans lobby group LGB Alliance.

But now the endless torrent of harassment and criticism is directly impacting young and vulnerable trans people, who may have nowhere else to turn.

On Thursday (6 October), Mermaids tweeted: “Due to intolerable abuse, we have made the decision to close the helpline and webchat services for the rest of today and tomorrow.

“Next week, to enable us to take all volunteers off the rota, we will reduce hours to 9am to 6pm only.

“We do not make this decision lightly, but our duty of care towards staff and volunteers necessitates a harm reduction approach to protect our dedicated staff and volunteer team. We hope to be able to resume normal working hours as soon as possible.”

Author Natasha Devon tweeted: “Mermaids are a lifeline for trans children and their families and also provide support for those who are gender questioning. To close down their vital services with abuse is despicable.”

Advocacy group Trans Activism UK added: “This is despicable that Mermaids have been forced to make this decision.

“Transphobes are directly removing support resources from some of the most vulnerable youths in the UK.”

This week, Mermaids launched an investigation into former trustee Jacob Breslow’s involvement in a conference organised by a paedophile support group.

The information “would have disqualified him from becoming a trustee”, Mermaids confirmed, but Breslow resigned the same day.

However, the situation prompted even more abuse of the life-saving charity, with social media users linking both Mermaids and the wider queer community to paedophilia.

“This is absolutely devastating,” tweeted journalist Owen Jones.

“Mermaids represent a crucial lifeline for young trans people and their families. I know so many stories about how they’ve transformed lives.

“That their helpline has been shut down underlines that LGBTQ+ charities are under coordinated attack.”