The Girl Guides are defending their decision to allow trans females to join the movement.
In recent days they’ve been accused of putting girls at risk by allowing transgender members.
Their response is strong and simple.
“It does not”, say the Chief Guide Amanda Medler, and and the Acting Chief Executive Ruth Marvel.
“Simply being transgender does not make someone more of a safeguarding risk than any other person”.
And the leaders also address fears that the rule might be abused in some way. They say the Girl Guide movement trains its volunteers to “assess the safety of every situation”.
The Guides change the rules to allow trans girls to join after 86% of girls and young women surveyed said no-one should be discriminated against for being transgender.
Now trans girls are allowed to join, and the policy says other children and parents should not be told that they are trans.
Some existing volunteers disagreed with the new policy so strongly they refused to go along with it.
The row became very angry and very public when two of those women were expelled from the organisation last week.
An independent investigation said they had breached the Volunteers’ Code of Conduct and the rules on using social media.
Consider the girls
One of the women expelled was Helen Watts who was a guide leader in Ealing in west London. She’d been in guiding for 15 years.
“As much as Girl Guiding needs to be inclusive, I think we need to consider girls needs as well”, she says.
“If you consider guides going away on camp for the first time, these are adolescents who may be embarrassed about their changing bodies, who would rather be sharing those kinds of intimate spaces with other female children”.
Children are not predators
The chief executive of the charity Mermaids, which helps young trans people and their families, disagrees strongly.
“These children are not predators, they are not something to be feared”, Susie Green says.
“Putting this in that sort of context means that what you are doing is encouraging transphobia, encouraging prejudice and encouraging the sort of thinking that there is somebody I need to be worried about”.
The argument is part a wider, angry debate about the access of trans people to spaces set aside for women only. It’s happening now because the government is considering changes to the Gender Recognition Act.
The proposal is that trans people should be allowed to self-identify their legal gender. At the moment changing legal gender means an intrusive process involving lots of red-tape and expense.
The debate has become polarised. The Guide movement describes it as a “highly politicised, emotive and often aggressive debate around transgender inclusion”.
Picture Credits: Helen Watts, from Facebook. Susie Green, from Facebook.