In plain sight

All you have to do to know that something is deeply wrong with Mermaids is watch Susie Green's Ted Talk.


Susie Green brought her son to Thailand for a sex change operation on the day of his 16th birthday, and during this 16-minute Ted-talk, she never gets around to explaining why.

She talks a lot but she doesn’t say anything. When the kid was 4, he said “Mummy, God’s made a mistake, and I should have been a girl”, he ‘gravitated’ towards girls’ toys, he liked wearing tutus and dressing as Snow White.

That’s it. That’s all there is. There’s nothing of substance in this speech, unless it’s the negative space of an Alan Bennett monologue, where the real story lies between the lines. Of the child’s gender nonconformity, Susie says “that was fine. But not for Dad. Jackie’s Dad struggled, and he blamed me.

Jackie’s Dad ‘struggled’.

There’s your second act.

And then the visit to the poor, muddle-headed doctor. “She was the first and by no means the last to say it was a phase” followed by that mock-puzzled, rhetorical, “It’s quite a long one by now, wouldn’t you say?”

Wait, WHAT is? Playing with girl’s toys? I thought we’d agreed there was nothing wrong with that? What exactly needs to be fixed about a boy playing with girl’s toys? To me, this seems to be a situation where the husband is the problem.

We have a child in deep distress at his father’s discomfort and a mother who keeps saying more than she means to.

It’s interesting isn’t it that the two photos seen early on, the before and after, one photo of Jack as a baby and one of him as a woman are presented in the following way.

“Jackie hates this photo because she looks like one of the Village People, and she loves this one, because she looks hot.”

Let’s overlook the strangeness of a woman proudly presenting her ‘daughter’ as a sexual object to an audience of nerds, and linger instead on why the ‘Village People’—as the undesirable ‘before’ part of the picture—is so accidentally apt. I don't think the father is a fan, is what I'm saying.

“At six years old she kept asking me when she could have the operation?”

How did your six-year-old son find out about sex-change operations, Susie? Did he see something when he turned over cartoons to watch the news? Was he a big reader of Scientific American? It seems unusual to me that in telling a story like this you would skip over such an essential scene.

In fact, perhaps you could do a follow-up Ted talk where you answer the questions that arise from your first one.

How did the possibility of a sex-change procedure turn up in conversation between you and your six-year-old child?

Was it because of your husband’s discomfort at your son’s gender nonconforming behaviour?

You said you had no problem with your son playing with girls toys but there is no other explanation given for your conviction that your son was actually a girl who had been born in the wrong body. What exactly led you to that conclusion?

There are so many questions that need to be asked of Mermaids but instead, the government just chucks them lottery money and allows them to influence the health of children all over The United Kingdom. When people ask me what’s so bad about them, I don’t have to link to Posie Parker or Miranda Yardley or any of the other brave women and men who have been sounding the alarm for years. I just point them to Susie Green’s TED Talk. It’s all there. In plain sight.