A publicly-funded transgender group has been sending breast binders to schoolgirls as young as thirteen and hiding the practice from parents, a newspaper investigation has revealed.
Trans organisation Morf were found to be sending the binders to schoolgirls in unmarked packages after a Mail on Sunday journalist posed as a 13-year-old girl. Critics have branded the practice as self-harming.
Breast binders are used by an increasing number of young girls to disguise their chest to make them look like boys.
A 2015 study revealed that using them could have physical consequences, including broken ribs, collapsed lungs, back pain, spinal compression, blood clots and breathing difficulties.
Psychiatrist Dr Lucy Griffin said: ‘In parts of Africa, pubescent girls undergo ‘breast ironing’ with hot rocks to stop them developing.
‘The practice, condemned as gender-based violence by the UN, leads to breastfeeding problems.
‘Yet here a publicly-funded institution is supporting a practice that may have similar consequences. It is unconscionable’.
MP David Davies agreed, saying: ‘It’s a scandal that we’re allowing a publicly-funded organisation to send out breast-binding kits without parental consent or knowledge’.
Stephanie Davies-Arai, founder of campaign group Transgender Trend, said: ‘The health effects of wearing binders are horrendous and well-documented.
‘To promote binders and supply them free to children behind their parents’ backs is a gross dereliction of duty towards girls and a cynical exploitation of teenage girls’ vulnerability to latest fads’.
Morf is backed by the LGBT Foundation. In 2016-17 the foundation received more than £1.1million from central and local government, and areas of the NHS. It also received £180,000 from lottery funds.