Mermaids fundraiser cancelled ‘due to severe threats against staff from transphobes’

The exterior of Royal Vauxhall Tavern with an LGBTQ+ Progressive Pride flag hanging down one side of the venue

A historic London LGBTQ+ was forced to cancel a fundraiser to raise money for Mermaids due to “severe threats” made to the venue’s staff “from transphobes”. 

The Royal Vauxhall Tavern (RVT) was set to present Gender X, a drag and cabaret fundraiser for the trans youth charity, on Thursday (13 October) night. According to the RVT’s website, the event was set to feature a lineup of top-tier cabaret and drag performers from “all parts of the LGBTQ+ community”. 

However, the venue called off the fundraiser just a couple of hours before doors were set to open. 

Vauxhall Ward, Lambeth councillors tweeted that the RVT cancelled the Mermaids fundraiser “due to severe threats made to their staff from transphobes”.

The councillors described the anti-trans pile-on as “disgraceful”. 

“Those who have made threats should be prosecuted,” Vauxhall Ward, Lambeth tweeted.

“Solidarity to all those at the venue who have had to endure threats and abuse.”

“Vauxhall is a haven for the LGBTQ+ community and we will never tolerate transphobia and will always support the RVT which has done so much for the LGBTQ+ community over many decades.”

The councillors vowed to do all they can to “ensure RVT events can continue as planned in future”. 

PinkNews has contacted Mermaids and RVT for comment. 

On the same day, trans campaigner Katy Montgomerie revealed a speech she was due to give at Warwick University, about combatting hate, was cancelled at short notice due to “controversy” around her appearance and the need for “increased security”.

Mermaids backlash and attacks

Mermaids has faced an immense anti-trans backlash as the result of various allegations about the trans youth charity’s services reported by the right-wing press

Since September, The Telegraph has published a series of articles about the charity, which provides vital support to trans youth and their families. 

In one article, the newspaper accused Mermaids of putting children’s safety at risk by providing them with chest binders “behind parents’ backs”. However, the report relied on an email exchange between an adult posing as a trans teen and a Mermaids staffer.

Mermaids responded to the issues listed in The Telegraph article by explaining that some trans, non-binary and gender non-conforming people use binding as a way to “alleviate” the “distress” from body dysphoria. 

As such, the charity 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”.

The Metropolitan Police later clarified that supplying or wearing a chest binder is not a criminal offence after The Telegraph ran another article questioning if the practice could be considered ‘child abuse’.

Mermaids faced more attacks after it emerged that Doctor Jacob Breslow, who was a trustee of the charity, spoke at a conference organised by a paedophile support group in 2011. 

Breslow stepped down from the role on 4 October, and Mermaids told PinkNews the conference is “completely at odds with [the charity’s] values”. The charity promised to review its processes and procedures in “light of this event to make them even more robust”. 

Prime minister Liz Truss said on Wednesday (12 October) that the allegations against Mermaids should be “properly looked at” after Tory MP Miriam Cates called for a police investigation into the charity’s activities.