The MailOnline has apologised to Mermaids UK, which supports gender-diverse kids, admitting that it “incorrectly” represented the charity’s views on transgender children and hormone medication.
The publication issued a statement on Wednesday, acknowledging that an article published on November 30 fell below standards expected by press regulator IPSO to “avoid inaccurate, misleading or distorted reporting of issues affecting transgender children.”
In the November 30 article, the MailOnline had included an incomplete quote from Mermaids, claiming that the charity considers hormone drugs “can subject a young person to distressing bodily changes that can lead to an increased risk of anxiety, depression, self-harm and suicidal ideas.”
MailOnline admits it fell below standards required to report on transgender children
However, in the full statement from Mermaids, the charity had said that it is instead the “waiting times” for such drugs that can cause this distress.
The MailOnline admitted to making the mistake in the article, which was also published in the Daily Mail without the Mermaids quote.
“We are happy to make their position clear, and apologise for the error,” reads the MailOnline’s statement in its in its “Clarifications and Corrections” column on January 9.
“This article also appeared in the Daily Mail without this quote.”
The statement continues: “In guidance IPSO makes clear that the highest professional standards are required to avoid inaccurate, misleading or distorted reporting of issues affecting transgender children.
“This is particularly important where the subject is a medical issue that may affect the wellbeing of such children. Mailonline acknowledges such standards were not met in this case.”
It comes after The Sunday Times published a correction regarding its July 2018 article on public women’s toilets and trans women in the City of London, following an IPSO ruling earlier this week.
The MailOnline has since updated the November 30 article to remove the entire comment from Mermaids UK, while adding an explanation about the correction at the bottom.
Mermaids UK: The MailOnline’s article was “highly misleading”
Lui Asquith, a legal caseworker at Mermaids UK, told PinkNews that the MailOnline’s article was “highly misleading.”
“Many parents and their children rely on our support in circumstances which may be isolating and challenging, not least in the face of a hostile and ill-informed media,” Asquith said.
“To state therefore that Mermaids considers medication, ‘can subject a young person to distressing bodily changes that can lead to an increased risk of anxiety, depression, self-harm and suicidal ideas,’is highly misleading.
“The lives of transgender children could potentially be endangered if as a result they were denied appropriate medication.
“There are a small number of highly vulnerable children for whom such medication may literally be life-saving. Such children are carefully assessed according to internationally agreed guidelines.”
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They continued: “In order to avoid any possibility of causing harmful effects, reporting the medical needs of transgender children requires the highest professional standards of accuracy: a standard that was not satisfied in this instance, as accepted by the Mail.
“Far from the medication causing harm, the issues that most negatively affect the wellbeing of young trans people are long waiting lists, lack of training in the NHS on gender identity and reluctance to prescribe recommended medication.”
“The lives of transgender children could potentially be endangered if as a result they were denied appropriate medication.”
—Lui Asquith, a legal caseworker at Mermaids UK
An IPSO spokesperson told PinkNews that it did not publish a ruling on the November 30 article and that the “complaint was resolved between the complainant and the Mail.”
Speaking to PinkNews, Christine Burns, a trans campaigner and editor of the book Trans Britain, highlighted a report by blogging website Tabloid Corrections that states that the Daily Mail received more sanctions from IPSO—28 offences in total—than any other publication in 2018.
The Times was ranked second with 18 sanctions, moving up three places from the year before, with The Sun being placed third.
“Lies about trans affairs form a big part of the ‘fake news’ output of the press,” Burns added.
“It’s a stream of falsehoods that a tiny community like trans people struggle to address. It’s like whack-a-mole. The lies come faster than complaints can be brought.
“The Mail and others, such as The Times, seem determined to poison public opinion regarding trans people and it’s very frightening.”