Gaming for Mermaids

As many of you will know, I am a big fan of an organisation called Mermaids. They are a support network for trans kids and their families. Just the sort of thing I wish had existed when I was young and struggling with my identity.

Over the past few months they have come under intense attack from anti-trans extremists who have tried to paint them as a cult that is pushing children to transition. They have also been horribly misrepresented in the media. Recently the Daily Malice was actually forced to apologise because they had edited a comment from Mermaids. The original said that waiting times for medication caused distress to young people, but the Malice ran it as saying that it was the medication that caused distress. That was so blatantly dishonest that even the normally tame and toothless media regulator, IPSO, called for a retraction.

Before the Holidays news broke that Mermaids had been awarded £500,000 by the Big Lottery Fund. This was met with outrage by anti-trans extremists who organised a campaign to bombard the Fund with complaints, as a result of which the grant has been suspended pending investiation. I don’t hold out much hope because if there’s one thing that bureaucrats hate it is negative publicity. I suspect that it will be almost impossible from now on for a UK-based charity to get a grant for work with trans people.

The problem is, of course, that anything the anti-trans side does will be front page news in the national media and discussed in pearl-clutching tones on the BBC, whereas anything trans folks do, even if it has massively more support, will be ignored. But we do have support, and that was proved this weekend.

A wonderful young man who goes by the name of Hbomberguy has been playing Donkey Kong non-stop on the gamer streaming service, Twitch. I think he’s done his bit now, but the fundraiser he set up for it is still going. Thus far he has raised over $160,000. That’s incredible. Mostly it has come in small donations from thousands of people.

While the money is hugely welcome and will be put to very good use by Mermaids, the campaign is also enormously valuable for the morale boost it has given the trans community. We’ve taken an incredible battering over the past year. The Times and Sunday Times alone averaged almost one anti-trans article a day in 2018. The toll this has taken on trans people’s mental health has been very obvious. To wake up this morning to parents of trans kids saying how happy what Hbomberguy has done has made their children has been hugely heartwarming.

The campaign on Twitch is still running and will be open for several more days if you want to contribute. Alternatively you can donate direct to Mermaids here. And of course there may be trans groups local to you who are desperate for funds.