A taxpayer-funded trans group has been sending breast binders to schoolgirls as young as thirteen and hiding the practice from parents, it has been 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 harm.
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.”
Transgender Trend similarly reported: “Our ‘support’ for these girls by our acceptance of the use of breast binders prevents us from viewing their use as a harmful cultural practice”.
“Any other practice of self-harm is recognised as such but in this case we have adults in a position of responsibility declaring that this particular form of self-harming, unlike any other, promotes psychological well-being”.
Morf is backed by the LGBT Foundation. In 2016-17 the foundation received more than £1.1m from central and local government, and areas of the NHS. It also received £180k from lottery funds.