The NSPCC is under fire for inviting an alleged anti-trans campaigner to a ‘debate’ about transgender children.
The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children announced yesterday that it is holding a ‘Dare to Debate’ session on October 25, with the subject ‘Is society letting transgender children down?’.
However, activists have vowed to shun the session over the invitation to Sarah Ditum, a feminist campaigner who opponents say has a history of extreme comments about trans people.
Former boxing promoter Kellie Maloney, who came out as trans last year aged 61, is the only trans person set to appear on the panel.
Ditum has previously described reporting on the high rates of suicide among young trans people as “bullshit”, suggesting that trans suicides are caused by “telling people they can become meaningful by killing themselves” rather than bullying and discrimination.
On another occasion she wrote: “Some women would like to have spaces without dick, same as a gunshot victim should have rifle-free spaces.”
After Caitlyn Jenner came out as trans, she mockingly tweeted: “Jenner says the hardest part of being a woman is getting dressed, when the thing I’ve always struggled with is where to tuck my penis.”
On her own website announcing the event, Ditum lays into fellow panellist Kellie Maloney, noting their violent past.
She wrote: “The other speaker will be Kellie Maloney, the boxing promoter formerly known as Frank who transitioned in 2014.
“Maloney’s past includes the expression of homophobic sentiments (now repudiated), and a 2005 attack on Tracey Maloney when the two were married (Maloney has attributed this in part to the strain of living with a suppressed gender identity).
“My participation implies no endorsement of these acts. Gendered violence, and its effects on children, is something I expect to discuss at the event. I trust the NSPCC to facilitate a full and open discussion, and am delighted to volunteer my time for this debate.”
A petition calling on Ms Ditum to be dropped from the event cites Ms Ditum as a person “who actively campaigns against supporting trans children with anything but conversion therapy”.
Ms Ditum denies she is an “anti-trans campaigner”, suggesting she aims to assess the “conflicted state of scientific evidence for gender identity”.
An NSPCC spokesperson told PinkNews: “The NSPCC regularly hosts events as part of the ‘Dare to Debate’ series, which have looked at the sexualisation of children, childhood obesity and online safety.
“The debate is not discussing trans as an identity, but asking what society should be doing for trans children and young people.
“It is being hosted as an increasing number of children are calling Childline with concerns about gender identity and gender dysphoria.
“We have invited two independent speakers with differing views to discuss this question. The NSPCC does not endorse their views.
“Invitations to the debate have been extended to members of the medical community, trans activists, support groups and members of the press.”
Responding to complaints, about the speakers. the charity insisted: “We chose speakers who are pertinent to the debate.
“Both are known to the media, have spoken publicly about their views on transgender, and have differing opinions which will enable a good discussion. They do not represent the views of the NSPCC.
“Kellie Maloney is one of the most prominent and recognisable members of the UK transgender community, after publically coming out as transgender in August 2014. Maloney has made numerous media appearances discussing her transition and will be sharing accounts of her personal experience.
“Sarah Ditum is a writer and broadcaster who regularly writes for the Guardian and New Statesman. She has written various articles exploring gender, sexual identity and society.
“These speakers are very much in the public eye. They often appear in the media to discuss transgenderism; we are not endorsing their views. We are providing a platform for debate and discussion.
“Sarah Ditum’s and Kellie Maloney’s views do not represent the views of the NSPCC.”