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National lottery to ‘review’ £500,000 donation to trans charity after backlash

National lottery to ‘review’ £500,000 donation to trans charity after backlash

a headshot of susie green who has bob length blond hair and is wearing a black blazer

A national lottery donation of £500,000 (US$631,000) to a UK trans charity is under review after anti-trans activists complained.

The Big Lottery Fund gives million of pounds to charities and community groups every year. It uses money raised by players of The National Lottery to allocate the funds.

The national lottery awarded £500,000 to Mermaids, an award winning charity that supports young people with gender identity issues and their families. It had planned to use the money to open 45 contact points around the UK. The contact points will serve as catch up spaces for people accessing Mermaids’ services.

The Big Lottery Fund has donated to Mermaids three times previously. It has given Mermaid three separate donations of £10,000 since 2015.

But an article in The Sunday Times which labelled Mermaids as ‘aggressive’ and that ‘campaigns for children to be given prohibited sex-change treatment’ led to a severe backlash against the funding decision.

Anti-trans backlash

Lead by Father Ted creator and anti-trans tweeter, Graham Linehan, a campaign on parenting forum, Mumsnet, called for the donation to be revoked.

‘I was a bit knocked back today when I saw the story about Mermaids being given whatever insane amount it is from the National Lottery. The idea of 45 Mermaids clinics opening around the country is terrifying,’ he wrote.

Linehan instructed his anti-trans supporters to email the Big Lottery Fund’s CEO, Dawn Austwick.

Big Lottery Fund confirmed a lot of people had contacted them about the planned donation.

We have received a range of correspondence in relation to a proposed grant to Mermaids, expressing both concern and support regarding this organisation,’ a spokesperson for Big Lottery Fund told Gay Star News.

‘We’re grateful to those who have taken the time to write to us, and in light of the nature and volume of the communication we have received, we have decided to undertake a review of this grant.’

‘Truly morally corrupt individual’

Trans and LGBTI advocates have condemned the backlash.

Twitter user @mimmymum advocates for trans children anonymously on social media. Her family used the services of Mermaids during her child’s transition.

She told Gay Star News that Mermaids provides a much needed safe space for trans young people.

‘I find it incomprehensible and deeply upsetting that a man with enormous influence like Graham Linehan is encouraging others to attack Mermaids,’ she said.

‘He has no knowledge about what Mermaids does, doesn’t have a transgender child, and as far as I am aware, has not spoken to any parent or child who has been supported by the charity.’

LGBTI activist, Adrian Harrop, said Linehan should be ‘utterly ashamed of himself’. 

Abusing one’s platform and weaponizing one’s influence, in an overt attempt to deny trans and non-binary children a chance to access the help and support they need in order to live successful and happy lives… are the reprehensible actions of a truly morally corrupt individual,’ Harrop told Gay Star News.

Herrop also called out Mumsnet for becoming a ‘breeding ground for the most toxic and vehement forms of transphobia’.

‘By allowing vulnerable and innocent children to be targeted in such a way, Mumsnet have become actively complicit in campaigning that seeks to make the lives of transgender and non-binary children and young people even more challenging and disadvantaged than they already are, causing significant and potentially irreparable harm.’

Mermaids responds

A Mermaids spokesperson has sent this statement to Gay Star News.

They said: ‘Mermaids welcomes all levels of scrutiny into the charity and the services that we deliver to families and young people, and are determined to continue to support trans children to achieve a better future.

‘We want to reassure all parents that access our support that we will continue to be there for you and your children.

‘We are very proud of the work that we do, and would like to thank our supporters, including our individual donors and funders who have made this enormously important work possible.

‘Whilst we are disappointed that this is necessary, Mermaids understands that the volume of correspondence, both positive and negative, received by Big Lottery has necessitated a review of the grant that we were notified of last week.

‘It is unfortunate that transgender children and young people continue to be a largely misunderstood population, and we understand that misinformation about the reality for trans kids is at the heart of this. Perhaps this review will reveal more about the very real challenges faced daily by families and young people, and help to foster understanding and acceptance.

‘We look forward to the outcome of this review and will work with Big Lottery to provide them with any additional information they require, as and when needed.’