The anti-trans brigade is attacking children’s charity Mermaids for helping its users protect their identity. Yes, really
We’re in the midst of a pandemic and the UK is in lockdown, but that hasn’t stopped the anti-trans brigade from voicing their “concerns” on Twitter.
Mermaids, a charity that supports transgender children, recently made a move that countless other charities have made before them: they introduced an “Exit Button” on their website.
Exit Buttons allow people to quickly move to another website while viewing sensitive information online. When you click on an Exit Button, it will immediately take you away from the website you’re viewing and open a new one instead. Mermaids’ exit button links to the Wikipedia homepage.
Writing on Twitter, Mermaids explained: “Privacy can be tricky with all the family around at the moment, so we gave our new desktop website an Exit Button so you can easily jump to another site if you need to.”
These buttons are important for LGBT+ people because they can protect them from being accidentally outed to somebody who could have a hostile reaction. That has never been as important as right now, when trans young people across the world are stuck self-isolating at home – many of them with transphobic parents.
Anti-trans Twitter users accused Mermaids of ‘grooming’ children.
Unsurprisingly, anti-trans Twitter users took the opportunity to accuse Mermaids of failing to safeguard vulnerable children – but it’s backfiring spectacularly, as queer people have taught them a thing or two about the realities of growing up LGBT+.
After The Times columnist Janice Turner accused the charity of “a major safeguarding breach” and “grooming” children, queer people started to point out that Exit Buttons are not a new phenomenon, and LGBT+ people have been using them for quite some time.
Benali Hamdache pointed out just how important tools like these are for queer children, for whom the internet is often their only source of information on their identities.
I grew up with a virulently homophobic Dad.
Online spaces gave me some solace and the chance to be happily gay.
Once I didn’t close a window quick enough. The end result was being punched in the face and my glasses broke.
An exit button isn’t grooming. https://t.co/DM9lxb2H3T
— Benali Hamdache (@greenbenali) March 26, 2020
Trans activist Shon Faye rightly pointed out that Childline also has an Exit Button, but has never been accused of “grooming” children by helping protect them from abuse.
Childline also does this. pic.twitter.com/mDiWbCKueN
— shon faye. (@shonfaye) March 26, 2020
She also said that at least three children she went to school with were outed after their siblings looked at their search history.
“Very distressing for them and similarly for trans kids trying to work things out,” Faye added.
Various organisations and individuals have pointed out just how important Exit Buttons are for queer youth.
Plenty of others were quick to point out that LGBT+ young people need specific safeguarding measures in place to protect them from abuse – and sometimes, hiding their internet search history from parents is part of that.
Very disappointing to see the amount of negativity @Mermaids_Gender are receiving for this great feature. Lots of people clearly ignorant to the lived realities of young queer people. #BWithTheT https://t.co/yalDydQ2bm
— BiSurvivorsNetwork (@NetworkBi) March 26, 2020
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The comments under this directly equating it to grooming are exactly why it needs to exist: to protect the children of people like those replying.
Childline has the exact same feature on their website, and all Mermaids volunteers have had an enhanced DBS check. https://t.co/ySvtqT1csr
— Alice Something Or Other (@MechaniVal) March 26, 2020
If you are a trans child, you can access support on the Mermaids website here, and there’s a brand new exit button there to help you feel as safe as possible while finding support and information.