Mermaids is a UK-wide charity working to support thousands of transgender or gender non-conforming children, young people and their families. Mermaids overarching aim is to create a world where gender diverse children and young people can be themselves and thrive; to this end, our goal is to relieve the mental and emotional stress of all those aged 19 years and under who are gender variant, as well as to promote education and awareness. We offer information, support, friendship and shared experiences to young people and their families, as well as providing some local and national opportunities to meet others.
Why is Mermaids needed?
Children and teens dealing with gender dysphoria and their families require support to cope with isolation, discrimination and prejudice. Gender variant young people are among the most vulnerable in the UK. Almost half of transgender school pupils (45%) in the UK have attempted suicide; 1 in 9 of those pupils have received death threats, 8 of 10 have self-harmed. They experience bullying, both physically and mentally, by their peers, adults, and even people in authority, such as teachers and local authority workers. Without adequate support, transgender young people are far more likely to drop out of school and are less likely to access higher education.
‘I would probably be dead if it wasn’t for Mermaids. Being able to meet other trans people has been invaluable for me. Being able to talk about things that I couldn’t discuss with anyone else and receiving positive messages, advice and feedback from admins and other members has also been invaluable’. – A young person.
At a recent Mermaids residential weekend, we did a session with Stop Hate UK. We asked how many of the parents in the room were frightened for their children and what they face in the outside world. They all raised their hands. We then asked the gender diverse teens and young people in the room how many had been subjected to transphobic abuse. They all raised their hands.
With greater awareness of transgender issues across society, the number of young people and their families seeking support from Mermaids has seen explosive growth e.g. over the last three years, the number of emails and calls received, increased from 495 in 2013/14 to just under 5,000 in 2017/18.
Founded in 1995 by parents of gender-variant children and young people as a support group, the charity has grown to respond to need and provides a range of services.