Transgender girls now officially welcome to become Girl Guides in Canada
Girl Guides of Canada releases new guidelines designed to accommodate all children identifying as girls
After years of allowing transgender children to join only on a case-by-case basis, the Girl Guides of Canada have released new guidelines that make their stance on the issue clear and official:
"All persons who live their lives as female are welcome to join the organization."
The Girl Guides announced Wednesday that adult co-ordinators and parents now have access to a resource that will help them "assist volunteer Unit Guiders in welcoming girls who identify as transgender and in working alongside transgender adult members and parents."
While it is by no means exhaustive, the seven-page-long document includes helpful definitions and terminology, links to branch programming and resources, and an extensive Q&A section for leaders with transgender girls in their groups.
"How do I know if a member is transgender?" reads one question, the answer for which includes "The only way to know if a member is transgender is if the member tells you they are... As long as she is identifying as a girl at Guides, she is welcome."
Questions about washroom access, privacy, pronoun use, discrimination and bullying are also addressed.
Because selling cookies is far from the only activity Guides and their younger or older counterparts (The Sparks, Brownies, Pathfinder and Rangers) participate in together, some of the issues brought up are more complicated than others.
In response to a question about sleeping arrangements and change rooms for camping trips, the document indicates that "if the trans girl in your unit is comfortable using a gender-segregated change room, they may have access to the girls' change room. If the child tells you that they are uncomfortable using a shared change room, provide a non-stigmatizing alternative (i.e. single stall washroom)."
"As a member of your unit, the girl will participate in the same activities as all other members of your unit," the answer continues. "This includes sleeping in the same area as the other members of your unit."
This resource also lists different badge activities than can be completed all of the Girl Guides branches in order to help members learn about inclusivity.
Sparks (ages five or six) can earn badges as a unit in "Being Me" and "The World Around Me," while Brownies (ages seven or eight) can do a unit called "Key to Me – Who Am I?, Respecting Others, Being a Friend."
"In addition to these guidelines, if a girl or her parents/guardians have identified to you that she is transgender, it is appropriate to reach out to them for input on accommodations," reads the first page of the guide. "You may also reach out to the GGC inclusivity specialist."
According to a press release issued by the Girl Guides of Canada on Wednesday, the resource has been met with enthusiasm and pride from members across the nation.
Reaction on Twitter and Facebook shows that many outside of the organization are also impressed by the initiative.
Beyond awesome. The girl guide in my heart is so proud of this announcement. So so proud. <a href="http://t.co/OpIrin6M5g">http://t.co/OpIrin6M5g</a> cc <a href="https://twitter.com/girlguidesofcan">@girlguidesofcan</a>—@JacklynDeniseCo
<a href="https://twitter.com/CityNews">@CityNews</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/girlguidesofcan">@girlguidesofcan</a> "regardless of how a child was born, a girl is a girl." Absolutely amazing! <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/respectforall?src=hash">#respectforall</a>—@UniqueLives
I LOVE my transgender girl scout! Girl Guides Of Canada Updates Guidelines To Welcome Transgender Girls - <a href="http://t.co/Vhnzbkqj37">http://t.co/Vhnzbkqj37</a>—@heyval2
Akiko Asano, the president of national advocacy group Gender Creative Kids Canada, is also applauding the Guides for not making "the mistake of getting hung up on a child's genitalia without focusing on how the person sees herself."
"You want to respect that child's preferred name at that time because they have either transitioned socially, or are about to or are in the process of," Asano told the Canadian Press in an interview this week. "... Not everyone has access to be able to change their legal name right away."