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Robert Webb criticised for attacking trans kids charity Mermaids

Josh Jackman December 24, 2018
Robert Webb attends the Women in TV & Film Awards at London Hilton on December 7, 2012

Robert Webb has sparked outrage with his comments about trans kids' charity Mermaids (Tim Whitby/Getty)

Robert Webb, star of Peep Show and That Mitchell and Webb Look, has sparked anger by attacking trans children’s charity Mermaids as he announced he was a “gender-critical feminist.”

On Saturday (December 22), the BAFTA-winning British comedian tweeted his support of Sunday Times journalist Janice Turner, along with trans-exclusionary radical feminist campaigners Julie Bindel—who once said a “trans cabal” was “running a witch hunt”—and Rebecca Reilly-Cooper, adding: “Mermaids sucks.”

Webb quote-tweeted a post by Turner in which she said trans children’s charity Mermaids spreads “dangerous unscientific ideology… about gender- nonconforming kids” above a link to a Sunday Times column of hers titled: “Trans ideologists are spreading cod science.”

Webb wrote: “This won’t make me popular in certain quarters but f**k it—I’m with Janice and I don’t say it often enough.

“Also @boodleoops also @bindelj I’ve talked to some really nice trans people here & they have my solidarity if they want it. But Mermaids sucks.”

Tweet by Robert Webb in which he attacks Mermaids and voices support for Janice Turner
Robert Webb: “I’m with Janice and I don’t say it often enough… I’ve talked to some really nice trans people here & they have my solidarity if they want it. But Mermaids sucks” (arobertwebb/twitter)

After restaurant critic and Amazing Hotels: Life Beyond the Lobby presenter Giles Coren voiced his support for Turner’s cause, Webb said that pro-trans men “can shove their influence up their arses.

“I’ll influence them under the table. Great column. Sorry I’ve been such a coward this year. Merry Christmas (and you too, comedy brother-in-law).”

The 46-year-old proceeded to tweet that “telling boys & girls they are in the wrong body because they don’t conform to gender stereotypes is certainly a step back into the dark.”

“Telling all kids like me and Abbie that we were born into the wrong body & therefore need a lifetime of medication… that’s just wrong.”

— Robert Webb

Webb later claimed that he was pro-trans, writing: “I oppose transphobia *and* misogyny. Like, y’know… any decent human.

“I’m a gender-critical feminist,” he added, before tweeting to say an accusation that he was “picking on children” was “dishonest and low.”

He continued: “I was different, as was my wife. I was a ‘queer,’ she was a ‘tomboy.’ It turned out we were non-gender-conforming children. Many kids like us turn out to be gay. Others don’t. A tiny minority have dysphoria.”

Webb added that “telling all kids like me & Abbie that we were born into the wrong body & therefore need a lifetime of medication… that’s just wrong.”

Webb’s comments follow the Big Lottery Fund’s decision to review a planned grant to Mermaids after a thread started on Mumsnet by TV writer Graham Linehan urged opposition to the funding.

Mermaids CEO Susie Green told PinkNews that Webb’s tweets were “not helpful,” adding that her charity had reached out to him to start a discussion.

“Mermaids supports gender non-conforming and transgender children, young people and their families,” she said.

“We have never suggested that if a child’s interests do not fit within the binary that this means they are trans, quite the contrary.

“We would like to see a world where stereotypes are challenged and children are supported to be themselves without restrictions.”

Green’s statement added: “We have reached out to Robert to have a conversation as his comments were not helpful and we hope to be able to give him some insight into the work we do and the families we support.

“Perhaps meeting some of the kids struggling with a hostile environment including mainstream and social media will help him to understand how damaging it can be to be constantly invalidated.”

Robert Webb sparks outrage from pro-trans activists

Webb’s comments have produced anger among trans advocates and supporters of Mermaids.

Activist Shon Faye said that Webb “literally came out as a transphobe because he thinks he’d have been spiked with estrogen for being a bit of a shy child with florid gestures.”

“Mermaids would have saved me and my family years of needless suffering. I support them 100 percent.”

— Paris Lees

Vogue columnist Paris Lees wrote to Webb: “Are you with Bindel when she ridicules trans people’s appearances? And targets individuals?

“And speculates about the genitalia of school students? Be great if you could clarify. @Mermaids_Gender would have saved me and my family years of needless suffering. I support them 100%.”

Avery Edison, a fellow comedian, tweeted at Webb: “Nobody tells kids that they are trans. You been massively misinformed by people with a hateful agenda.

“Transition is always self-directed, people are not going around finding children who are a little different and saying ‘you’re trans now.'”

Non-binary writer Thal tweeted about Webb and Linehan, saying: “It’s old-fashioned mansplaining mixed with old-fashioned white knighting, actual virtue signalling to seek approval from rich white women who soothe their egos, and straight up misogyny they are cheered for by those same women.

“Sad little gits really.”

Webb has stated that he opposes misogyny.

Pro-trans activist and podcaster Alan Maguire wrote: “Where do you even start with this Robert Webb s**t? I never felt like a regular boy growing up either but I never felt like I was the wrong gender.

“It’s completely disingenuous of him to say that being a non-traditional man and gender dysphoria are the same thing.”

More: anti-trans, Children, gender, janice turner, Julie Bindel, mermaids, peep show, robert webb, The Sunday Times, Trans, Transgender, Twitter, UK

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