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UK launches formal inquiry into LGBT charity that reportedly gave chest binders to minors

mermaids uk
Mermaids UK

A regulatory body in the United Kingdom has launched a formal inquiry into a charity for trans-identified youth after reports emerged that the organization supplied chest-binding devices to teenagers and that a trustee spoke at an event focused on support for pedophiles.

The Charity Commission announced Friday that it launched a formal inquiry on Nov. 28 into Mermaids, which says it has supported "transgender, nonbinary and gender-diverse children" since 1995. The organization also trains adults and professionals on accommodating "gender-diverse young people." 

The inquiry will examine the organization's leadership, whether trustees maintain sufficient oversight of the charity's activities and whether the trustees engaged in any misconduct. 

The department opened a regulatory compliance case into Mermaids in September due to allegations about the charity's activities. The commission reports that it is now focusing on newly identified issues with the group's management.

Considering the charity's activities involve "vulnerable children and young people," the Charity Commission seeks to determine if Mermaids governs itself appropriately. The commission regulates charities in England and Wales. 

"The Commission will investigate the regulatory issues to determine whether they indicate serious systemic failing in the charity's governance and management," the announcement reads. "The trustees have fully cooperated with the regulator's case, but their response has not provided the necessary reassurance or satisfied the Commission at this stage." 

In a statement, Mermaids stated that it will "cooperate fully, openly and with complete transparency with the Charity Commission as its inquiry gets underway." The Christian Post asked Mermaids for comment on the announcement, but the charity cited its Friday statement. 

The commission will publish a report detailing its findings and what actions the charity must undertake once the investigation has concluded. 

As The Christian Post reported, the commission began assessing complaints about Mermaids following a September report by The Daily Telegraph alleging that the group sends "chest binders" to girls as young as 13 without their parents' knowledge. 

Girls trying to resemble boys often use binders to flatten their breasts. Some side effects of wearing a binder include breathing difficulties, breast tissue damage, and can potentially lead to cracked ribs. 

Last month, Mermaids trustee Jacob Breslow resigned after it was discovered he spoke at a 2011 event hosted in Baltimore, Maryland, by United States-based organizations B4U-ACT. The organization provides support to people who are sexually attracted to children. 

According to The Times, the former trustee reportedly suggested that "minor-attracted persons" are misunderstood during his presentation at the event. The charity said it was unaware of Breslow's appearance at the conference until contacted by The Times. 

In November, Mermaids announced the departure of CEO Susie Green after six years but gave no reason for her departure. 

On Oct. 12, Prime Minister Liz Truss appeared to support an investigation into the charity, responding that it should be "properly looked at" when answering questions in the commons chamber. 

The Department for Education in England reportedly stopped referring schools to the organization as a mental health resource. 

The controversy surrounding Mermaids comes amid a report from the U.K.'s National Health Service advising medical professionals to take a more watchful approach to gender dysphoria in children. 

In a proposed set of guidelines released last month, the NHS warned doctors against encouraging minors to socially transition by changing their names or pronouns during what may be a "transient phase."

"The clinical management approach should be open to exploring all developmentally appropriate options for children and young people who are experiencing gender incongruence, being mindful that this may be a transient phase, particularly for prepubertal children, and that there will be a range of pathways to support these children and young people and a range of outcomes," the proposed guidelines state.

The document advises that the "clinical approach in regard to pre-pubertal children will reflect evidence that suggests that, while young people who are gender querying or who express gender incongruence may have started their journey as younger children, in most prepubertal children, gender incongruence does not persist into adolescence."

Samantha Kamman is a reporter for The Christian Post. She can be reached at: samantha.kamman@christianpost.com.

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