Attacks on LGBTQIA+ children target ‘safe exit’ buttons

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The buttons exist on websites such as Mermaids UK, a charity viewed as controversial by transphobes for its support of trans children and their families. But also charities such as Stop It Now, NSPCC and Childline.

Recent attacks in this vein include against the charity ‘The Trevor Project’, a suicide prevention charity for LGBTQIA+ youth. “Evolutionary biologist and managing editor at Quillette”, Colin Wright, shared a Trevor Project comic to his Twitter highlighting the feature.

The comic shows two children discussing being uncomfortable at home due to not feeling safe to be themselves around their parents. One child suggests texting the Trevor Project, the other says they can’t because their parents check their texts. To which the first child says you could use their website instead, which has a ‘safe exit’ feature. Allowing a user to quickly close the page and delete browsing history.

Colin Wright frames this as sinister, saying the point is to “keep parents in the dark”. Tagging in others such as James Lindsay who refers to LGBTQIA+ people as groomers. Abigail Shrier, the author of Irreversible Damage, a book widely panned for its obvious transphobia and misinformation and a bunch of other people with links to anti-LGBTQIA+ activism. Such as Ben Shapiro, Matt Walsh, Tim Pool, Rita Panahi and ‘wokal_distance’.

Many quote tweets and replies join in calling LGBTQIA+ people and The Trevor Project groomers.

This comes mere weeks after Secretary of State for Education, Nadhim Zahawi, suggested guidance that would have teachers out children to parents as LGBTQIA+ is being considered. A move which can only be described as potentially deadly for thousands of children. Statistics from charities such as The Albert Kennedy Trust paint a very sad picture.

However as already mentioned; these features aren’t exclusive to LGBTQIA+ charities. The ‘safe exit’ feature which allows someone to quickly hide a webpage have been included on sites for vulnerable children for years. Including sites such as NSPCC and Childline. This is because charities dealing with children recognise that an abuser would react badly to seeing children on such websites and so to protect them the option to escape is there.

We should also mention this isn’t the first attempt of trying to make the ‘safe exit’ panic happen. As recently as a few years ago anti-trans activists were rallying against Mermaid UK’s ‘safe exit’ feature with much the same rhetoric. Groups like “Safe Schools Alliance UK” frame this as sinister by saying they are “teaching your children to keep secrets”.

We don’t have a quick escape-feature built into TransWrites.World currently, however you can easily emulate this for yourself with shortcuts. For example in Firefox browser the shortcut to close a window or tab is ‘ctrl+W’. Combine this with browsing sites you want privacy for with most modern browsers’ inbuilt privacy feature (ctrl+shift+p or right click -> “open in private new window” in Firefox) and presto! You have exactly what is offered by The Trevor Project on every web page in existence.

I reached out to numerous children’s charities for comment who all said they cannot comment at this time but are looking to put out statements in the future. Obviously the ramping up of anti-LGBTQIA+ attacks and specifically those against children are a sensitive and complex area. But I do hope to see positive and affirming statements for LGBTQIA+ youth that lets them know they do not have to go through any of this alone.

Gemma Stone
Gemma Stone is a transgender writer who has been covering the rise of transphobic hate campaigning in the UK. She has written hundreds of articles dissecting aspects of transphobia including debunking blatant disinformation. She is very tired and trying her best, and hopefully having a positive impact on such a beautiful community.

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