Nottingham’s group for 'trans children': where’s the safeguarding? by Lily Moffat
Trans4Me is a group run jointly by Nottingham City Council, Nottingham clinical commissioning group (CCG) and Nottingham Children and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS). The group’s Facebook page says it is “open group for young people who identify as transgender/nonbinary/gender-variant.” A flyer for the group is typically cutesy: “Just when the caterpillar thought its world was over, it became a butterfly.”
Publicity for the group, which meets weekly, says it is aimed at children aged 12-18, though one listing describes the age range as 13-19. There is no mention in any of the publicity for the need for parental or carer approval or involvement.
You might already have your eyebrows raised at the wide age range: youth groups don’t usually have children as young as 12 or 13 mixing with adults of 18 or 19. You might be even more perturbed to discover that one of the group’s activities in March this year included a presentation on sexual health and hygiene from an organisation called the Health Shop – fine for older adolescents, perhaps, but not ideal in a group that potentially includes both 12 year old girls and 18 year old boys. The Department for Education’s guidelines state that resources used to teach about gender and biological sex should be “age-appropriate”.
But what really sets alarm bells ringing is the fact that Trans4Me is run by a woman called Sharon O Love. Love’s LinkedIn profile describes her as a clinical mental health specialist at CAMHS and manager of SHARP (Self-harm Awareness & Resource Project).
Outside her mental health role, however, Love works as a DJ at adult entertainment events, as her Twitter account reveals:
She was also tagged in this tweet by The Damon Heart from 2016, which she has “liked”:
The Damon Heart is an adult performer: scrolling down brings up some very explicit tweets. Anyone viewing the account will see recommendations for other sexual content, including a gay porn blog. In other words, any of Trans4Me’s members curiously googling for information about the group facilitator will find this content very quickly.
In many organisations, the explicit nature of Love’s social media feed would lead to a warning from the HR department. In Nottingham, however, it’s no bar to running a group for young adolescent children.
Not only that, but in Nottingham everyone seems to love Trans4Me. The council’s autism team has promoted the group publicly, even though we know that children with autism are a particularly vulnerable group who are susceptible to messages that they may be trans.
Until 2017, Trans4Me, was led by a trans man called Jacub Sabo-Dutton. Jacub also likes to post explicit sexual content on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. (In fairness, Jacub seems to have started posting on these accounts only after leaving Trans4Me.) These days, Jacub, whose Facebook page is called Sexting with Bleu, posts “Strictly 18+” content on OnlyFans.
Our understanding is that safeguarding concerns have been raised both online and directly with the city council and local police force, but there has so far been no response.
Nottingham City Council have been approached for comment.