Leading UK children’s charity, NSPCC, has been accused of promoting anti-trans child abuse by planning a debate on young trans healthcare.
Critics say the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children’s discussion risks implying that trans children should not be supported through their transition at all.
Now prominent trans campaigner and former boxing manager, Kellie Maloney, has pulled out of the event on 25 October.
— Kellie Maloney (@kelliefmaloney) October 12, 2016
The NSPCC debate ‘Is society letting down transgender children?’ was intended to be between Maloney and Sarah Ditum.
‘One of your speakers, Sarah Ditum, is an apologist for abuse of transgender children.
‘In late 2014, the world was horrified as a trans teenage girl was abused into suicide by her parents. Ditum expressed empathy with the parents, rather than the young girl who was abused to death.
‘I am highly concerned that you think it appropriate to host a debate where one of the speakers empathizes with child abusers, and I strongly suspect you would not decide to debate any other forms of child abuse while platforming somebody who empathizes with abuse.’
— D Franklin (@D_Libris) October 12, 2016
Ditum denies this is her position. She told GSN: ‘My writing on Leelah Alcorn did not “empathize with child abusers”: it stressed the importance of adhering to suicide reporting guidelines in order to avoid triggering further deaths among young trans people and the bereaved (however unsympathetically the bereaved may be presented).’
Activists have complained about the NSPCC’s chosen hashtag for the event, #daretodebate.
They claim this means the charity wants to question whether trans people should be supported.
Instead, they say the charity should focus the lack of resources and support for trans young people.
— Ruth Pearce (@NotRightRuth) October 12, 2016
Others have pointed out that neither Maloney or Ditum are experts on trans children, saying the NSPCC should have put experts on the platform instead.
NSPCC just wants debate
The NSPCC told GSN: ‘The NSPCC hosts a series of regular debates on matters that affect children and around current and sometimes controversial child protection issue.
‘These issues are often emerging or complex and we don’t necessarily have the answers but want to provide a space to explore these areas and give others the opportunity to air their views.
‘Previous debates have assessed the sexualisation of children, childhood obesity, online safety and whether historical child abuse investigations have become witch hunts. Our role is to chair the debate, providing a platform for the issue to be discussed and awareness of it raised. This debate is to explore what society could and should do for transgender children.’
In another twist, Maloney alleged Ditum wanted to use the debate against her.
Maloney claimed to GSN that Ditum had said on Twitter that she would be focusing on allegations of domestic abuse by Maloney some years prior to their transition.
She told us: ‘I am happy to debate anything about my personal life at a time and place of Sarah Ditum’s choosing. But this woman is attempting to turn this into a debate about me, which it is not.
‘The debate is and should be about the needs of the children.’
Again, Ditum denies this.
She told us: ‘Despite Kellie’s claims, I at no point “made it clear that [I] would be focusing on allegations of domestic abuse by Maloney”.
‘In response to criticisms of Maloney’s platforming by campaigners against intimate partner violence, I stressed that my involvement did not imply an endorsement of Maloney’s past actions, and added that I expected to discuss domestic violence during the event.
‘Young LGBT people are disproportionately victims of domestic violence, and this issue is highly relevant to the debate topic. It absolutely should not be ruled out because one of the debate participants’ past actions.’
Update: This story has been updated to include information from Ditum. Subsequent to publishing this report, the NSPCC has cancelled the event.