The chief executive of Mermaids, Susie Green, has left the transgender children’s charity after six years in her post, the organisation announced on Friday.
In a statement posted on the charity’s website, the chair of trustees, Belinda Bell, wrote: “The trustees are very grateful to Susie for everything she has done over the last six years to support trans, non-binary and gender-diverse young people and their families, and to build Mermaids into the organisation it is today. We wish her all the best for the future.”
The charity said an interim chief executive will be appointed shortly. There was no explanation of what triggered the unexpected announcement.
Founded in 1995 and staffed solely by volunteers until 2016, Green became Mermaids’ first member of staff. Headquartered in Leeds, with an office in London, it has about 44 staff members and 110 volunteers.
In recent months, the charity has found itself under intense public scrutiny. Partly as a result of Mermaids’ own decision to launch an appeal against the Charity Commission’s awarding of charitable status to LGB Alliance, which has been critical of “gender ideology’’. It is understood to be the first time one charity has attempted to strip legal status from another.
Separately, in recent weeks, Mermaids also has been the focus of a number of newspaper articles that have called into question its safeguarding policies, prompting the Charity Commission to open a “regulatory compliance case”. This is not a formal investigation, and it is not a finding of wrongdoing.
The file opened by the Charity Commission came after the Telegraph published a story in September alleging that Mermaids offered to send breast binders to children against their parents’ wishes.
Pending the commission’s scrutiny, a number of organisations have paused their relationships with Mermaids – the national lottery community fund has suspended future payments and the Department for Education has removed it from its mental health and wellbeing resources for schools.
Further controversy was prompted by an article in the Times reporting that a Mermaids trustee, Dr Jacob Breslow, an associate professor at the London School of Economics (currently listed as being on sabbatical), gave a 2011 presentation for B4U-ACT, an organisation that aims to promote “a science-informed understanding about people … with an attraction to children”.
Breslow resigned when the Times contacted Mermaids. Last week Green acknowledged his appointment was a mistake. “If we had found that he had attended that event, we would never have offered him a trustee role because we would have considered that that doesn’t fit with our aims and our views and our values,” she said.