Posted by Roger Mallett Posted on 4 December 2022

Time’s up for Mermaids’ special brand of bullying

AT Unherd, Hadley Freeman asks in a devastating and accurate attack on Susie Green, the now ex-CEO of the trans organisation Mermaids, ‘What I do want to know is this: how did so many people take Green so seriously for so long? Why did so many people turn off their intelligence when faced with this former IT consultant from Leeds? And how could so many LGBT activists champion and defend a woman who saw effeminacy – and therefore homosexuality – in her two-year-old and feel she had to “correct” this “defect”?’

I know! Hands up – over here! I know, I know! The reason why this entire transgender blitzkrieg campaign has been given the go-on-ahead on the say-so of a tiny minority of activities, is because to oppose giving hormones to children, to oppose cutting up their bodies, meant instant cancelling, trolling, deactivation of your Twitter account, and what Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie called ‘social censure’ in her BBC Reith Lecture on freedom of speech. Adichie defined social censure (as opposed to legitimate criticism) as ‘vicious retaliation not from the government but from other citizens’.

This ‘social censure’ has led people either to opt out, preferring the quiet life, or to self-censor. When it comes to transgender ideology this caused a vacuum into which poured the committed activists who set the terms of the debate (there is no debate, said Stonewall) of which they were supposed to be taking part. This resulted in them pushing claims which collapsed on the first flush of examination. That such abject nonsense as the claim that ‘48 per cent of young trans people attempt suicide’ could be repeated on mainstream media and social media for so long shows just how powerful are the activists-cum-self-appointed gatekeepers to the debate.

Freeman describes how this effective group of campaigners had a chilling effect on what newspaper editors would publish. ‘Since 2017, I regularly asked editors at the newspaper where I worked [the Guardian] if I could write about Mermaids in general and Green specifically, because it was so obvious that something was very wrong here. The answer, always, was no, but the reasons given were fuzzy: it wouldn’t be right in that section, they couldn’t see the news peg, it felt too niche. A more likely reason was one articulated to me with some passion on social media any time I tweeted anything sceptical about Green or Mermaids: to question either was to wish trans children would die. Doubt the charity, hate the cause, in other words. Weirdly, this attitude seems to hold true only for charities connected to trans issues: no one, as far as I know, screamed that the Times hates starving people when they investigated Oxfam in 2018 about allegations that some of its workers paid for sex.’

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