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Mermaids: The longest-running scandal in town
Why did the NHS child gender clinic give trans ideology a Green light?
As reported in The Telegraph this week, documents have just been released which demonstrate the shocking extent to which former Mermaids boss, Susie Green, was involved in the running of the NHS’s child gender clinic.
The Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust operates the Gender Identity Development Service (GIDS), the treatment centre for children and teenagers with gender issues.
The Tavistock was recently the subject of a Freedom of Information request regarding its ties to Mermaids. The clinic repeatedly refused to provide the required information, claiming that it did not ‘hold’ the relevant documents. Following the threat of court action by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), the Tavistock ultimately handed over a total of 322 pages.
A bounty of revelations has emerged from this extensive documentation, including pages of records, emails, and minutes from meetings held between 2014 and 2018.
For the uninitiated, Green was the Chair of Mermaids from 2011 until 2015 and then the CEO of Mermaids from 2016 until her recent sudden departure in November 2022. She famously took her young son to Thailand to undergo so-called ‘sex reassignment surgery’ on his sixteenth birthday. She would later give a TED Talk in which she openly admitted that having a feminine little boy who liked playing with ‘girls’ toys’ made her husband extremely uncomfortable.
There is also video footage of Green laughing about the fact that the puberty suppressants taken by her son in childhood meant there ‘wasn’t much to work with’ when he underwent genital surgery having just turned sixteen.
She now works as a project director for GenderGP, an offshore private gender clinic of dubious reputation which has been caught out supplying hormones to minors online without their parents’ knowledge or consent.
Green has no training or background in any medical field. Prior to taking up her paid appointment as Mermaids’ CEO, she worked as an IT manager. Despite this, she appears to have wielded considerable influence at GIDS, referring patients, advising on trials, helping to draft treatment policy and calling the shots with even senior staff.
Hannah Barnes’ book, Time to Think, details that the relationship between Mermaids and the Tavistock began at least as far back as 2011. In an interview with Vice in November 2016, Tavistock director, Dr Polly Carmichael, explained why the clinic began prescribing puberty blockers to children under the age of sixteen in 2011. “There was a lot of pressure coming from certain group to introduce it”, she said.
The newly released documents reveal that in 2014 Susie Green was heavily involved in the re-draft of the Tavistock’s service specification. At one particular meeting, Green was one of ten attendees that also included Tavistock director, Dr Polly Carmichael, and the trust’s medical director, Professor Gary Butler. The minutes show that the attendees agreed they would act as a ‘task and finish work group’ and that “the content of the discussions were expected to remain within the group”.
The resultant service specification adopted by GIDS was published by NHS England in 2016. It placed much greater emphasis on highly interventional medical treatment for children with gender-related issues and, for the first time, it allowed “that hormone blockers will now be considered for any children under the age of 12 if they are in established puberty”.
Shockingly, the newly released documents also reveal that Susie Green was able to refer children to the clinic for treatment, even if their own GPs had refused to do so. In one case she sent on a referral noting that the patient’s doctor “Has consistently refused to refer”.
The Telegraph report details communications between Susie Green and Polly Carmichael. In one exchange from 2016, Green emailed Carmichael to challenge the rejection of a referral she had made. Green said that she had been told “The referral was not validated or risk-assessed by a professional” and demanded to know the reason for this decision, seemingly outraged that she was not viewed as a professional.
Green told Carmichael, “I can only assume from this statement that I am not seen as a professional? I am now very confused, as my understanding was that your service would accept referrals from Mermaids, but this statement appears to suggest the opposite. If you do NOT accept referrals from Mermaids due to the fact that I am not a professional I would like to know the reasoning behind this?” She continued, “Your admin person made it clear that immediate action was needed or this referral would be refused, so can I ask for a level of urgency to be applied to dealing with this issue?”
Carmichael replied, “We do accept referrals from third sector groups and I know that you have helpfully sent in referrals in the past. This continues to be the case”.
Not only was Green, a former IT manager with no medical training or qualifications, able to make such demands of the clinic director over the referral of patients, she was also given an advisory role on a number of Tavistock trials relating to the treatment of children with gender issues.
In 2018, Carmichael emailed Green inviting her to take part in research which, supported by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), intended to ‘inform health and education providers’, looking at the development of gender identity in children aged 3-14. Carmichael wrote, “We are in the process of submitting an application to NIHR to follow younger service users. It would be great if Mermaids would be involved”. Green responded that she would be “Delighted to look at working with you on the NIHR application and delivery”.
In another email, Susie Green makes demands about the information contained on the Tavistock’s website. Green refers to the website listing various ‘schools of thought’ regarding the treatment of gender-confused children. She seems to be demanding that the approaches of which she does not approve - “Watch and wait, even ‘TERFs” - are down-played on the site as ‘contentious’ and ‘contested’.
Furthermore, she says, “I urge them to add Mermaids as a link on there”, adding that the website needs information on ‘tucking’ and where children can obtain breast binders. “The Tavi are no use at all”, she says.
For several years, numerous clinicians have expressed serious concerns over the treatment of patients and the prescription of puberty blockers at the clinic.
In 2019 consultant psychotherapist, Dr Marcus Evans, resigned over the clinic’s ‘blinkered’ and ‘one-sided’ response to the staff who voiced concerns about its ‘woefully inadequate’ care. A further five clinicians resigned shortly after Dr Evans’ departure, all voicing similar concerns.
Dr Matt Bristow, a former psychologist at GIDS, was one of several staff members to voice concern about the gay and lesbian children seeking help at the clinic. He said that GIDS was offering ‘conversion therapy for gay kids’. Another GIDS clinician told The Times, “There was a dark joke among staff that there would be no gay people left”.
In 2018 former Tavistock governor, Dr David Bell, wrote an internal report detailing the concerns of his colleagues about patient care at GIDS after around 10 of the clinic’s staff came to see him, unsolicited and independently, with grave worries. Trust authorities subsequently tried to suppress the report and silence Dr Bell.
His report’s main areas of concern were that patients did not have the capacity to consent to the treatment they received, children were rushed into medical treatment so transition became a ‘self-fulfilling prophecy’, there was no follow-up data kept after patients had been discharged, comorbidities were not examined prior to a trans diagnosis being given and that medical treatment was being used as a form of ‘conversion therapy’ for gay and lesbian gender non-conforming children.
In June 2020 BBC’s Newsnight reported that Tavistock staff voicing concerns about the treatment of patients there were being silenced. Leaked transcripts of staff interviews from a service review demonstrated that staff had very serious concerns about patient welfare but were being ignored and even shut down by their superiors.
Channel 4 News interviewed Dr David Bell in January 2021. He referenced the influence of the trans lobby on GIDS. “Leaders of movements of a very powerful ideological commitment have managed to capture policy, both medically, professionally, in the media and in government, with no evidence base”, he said.
His words have particular resonance this week in light of the revelations published by The Telegraph. Little wonder that, as the paper reports, Mermaids, “Has long been named by some whistleblowers as one of the reasons why the Tavistock lost its way”.
As detailed in Hannah Barnes’ book, Time to think, it is estimated that over 1000 children have been prescribed puberty blockers at the Tavistock.
Mermaids has, of course, been beset by scandal in recent years. In 2017 Mermaids was implicated in a high court case concerning a mother who forced her seven-year-old son to live as girl. In 2019 it was discovered that Mermaids had failed to keep the personal data of its vulnerable users secure. Around 780 pages of confidential emails, often relating to very vulnerable children, were exposed for nearly three years, leaving users’ personal information, medical data and contact details etc searchable online. The charity was subsequently fined £25,000.
In September 2022 an investigation by The Telegraph revealed that Mermaids staff were persuading children into medical transition, encouraging them to conceal their contact with the charity from their parents, and were offering to supply breast binders to girls as young as thirteen, even to those who said their parents have forbidden it. Only a month later, it was revealed that one of Mermaids’ trustees, Jacob Breslow, has links to paedophile organizations and has written extensively on pro-paedophile and ‘child sexuality’ subject matter.
Mermaids is now facing some long overdue scrutiny and it is the subject of a Charity Commission statutory inquiry.
You may recall that Mermaids had the audacity to challenge the charitable status of the LGB Alliance last year. When the Mermaids’ Chair of Trustees, Belinda Bell, appeared as a witness in the case in September 2022, she told the court, “We do not do medical stuff, we don't treat dysphoria”, adding “We are not a medical organisation”. She also testified, so emphatically that she reiterated the point, “We don't give medical advice”.
If that’s case, why did Susie Green demand and enjoy so much influence over the Tavistock’s child gender clinic for so long?