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HomeCulture WarTime’s up for Mermaids’ special brand of bullying

Time’s up for Mermaids’ special brand of bullying


AT Unherd, Hadley Freeman asks in a devastating and accurate attack on Susie Green, the now ex-CEO of the trans organisation Mermaids, ‘What I do want to know is this: how did so many people take Green so seriously for so long? Why did so many people turn off their intelligence when faced with this former IT consultant from Leeds? And how could so many LGBT activists champion and defend a woman who saw effeminacy – and therefore homosexuality – in her two-year-old and feel she had to “correct” this “defect”?’

I know! Hands up – over here! I know, I know! The reason why this entire transgender blitzkrieg campaign has been given the go-on-ahead on the say-so of a tiny minority of activities, is because to oppose giving hormones to children, to oppose cutting up their bodies, meant instant cancelling, trolling, deactivation of your Twitter account, and what Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie called ‘social censure’ in her BBC Reith Lecture on freedom of speech. Adichie defined social censure (as opposed to legitimate criticism) as ‘vicious retaliation not from the government but from other citizens’.

This ‘social censure’ has led people either to opt out, preferring the quiet life, or to self-censor. When it comes to transgender ideology this caused a vacuum into which poured the committed activists who set the terms of the debate (there is no debate, said Stonewall) of which they were supposed to be taking part. This resulted in them pushing claims which collapsed on the first flush of examination. That such abject nonsense as the claim that ‘48 per cent of young trans people attempt suicide’ could be repeated on mainstream media and social media for so long shows just how powerful are the activists-cum-self-appointed gatekeepers to the debate.

Freeman describes how this effective group of campaigners had a chilling effect on what newspaper editors would publish. ‘Since 2017, I regularly asked editors at the newspaper where I worked [the Guardian] if I could write about Mermaids in general and Green specifically, because it was so obvious that something was very wrong here. The answer, always, was no, but the reasons given were fuzzy: it wouldn’t be right in that section, they couldn’t see the news peg, it felt too niche. A more likely reason was one articulated to me with some passion on social media any time I tweeted anything sceptical about Green or Mermaids: to question either was to wish trans children would die. Doubt the charity, hate the cause, in other words. Weirdly, this attitude seems to hold true only for charities connected to trans issues: no one, as far as I know, screamed that the Times hates starving people when they investigated Oxfam in 2018 about allegations that some of its workers paid for sex.’

This should concern us all. The reason why Mermaids, and indeed the entire transgender ideology, was given a free pass until the vocal feminists started to push back is because name-calling is effective. Name-calling is what passes for legitimate public debate these days. As long the radical policy change can be dressed up as ‘the next civil rights issue’ or even a ‘human rights issue’, any opposition to it means you are a bigot. If you can paint opposition as ‘fascist’ or even ‘right-wing’, all the better. This might be enough to put off opposition from the progressive left. In fact, radical feminists continue to debate whether they should align with the right when it comes to transgenderism.

In sum, the allegation that you are a bully, a phobic something-or-other, and therefore should not just be ignored but you have your life and often your livelihood ruined, has been very effective for the transgender activists, especially as they have the police willing to impose their ideology for them.

If kids were emotionally bullied or subjected to repeated name-calling, they were usually told ‘sticks and stones might break your bones, but names will never hurt you’. This isn’t true when it comes to kids and isn’t true when it comes to adults either.

No one likes to be called names. No one likes to be told they ‘hate’ a particular group of people. In fact, the nicer the person, the more effective is the name-calling. Further, this kind of name-calling has been an effective strategy to shut down public debate for at least two decades.

It’s time the mainstream media stood up to this sort of bullying. Pressure groups which demand radical policy change should be subject to the same kind of scrutiny as everyone else. People who resort to name-calling, social censure and social media pile-ons should be called out for what they are – nasty, oppressive bullies who know their arguments would fail apart under any kind of scrutiny. Time should be well and truly up for Mermaids, a toxic organisation which has evaded examination for too long. 

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