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AIBU about Girlguiding’s transgender policy?

300 replies

AgnesBadenPowell · 07/03/2018 15:11

I’m the OP of this thread on feminism chat:

I know this has been discussed before BUT the thread has far more responses than I expected. There are responses from leaders who’ve had their concerns dismissed and a number of parents seem unhappy.

Feminism chat is well known for its self selecting, gender critical audience. A lot of people will have that topic hidden. It’s obvious from my posts that I’m gender critical but I really would like to hear the thoughts and experiences of a wider group.

To be clear, my position is very much inclusive. But I do take issue with GG staying that it’s always been a single gender (not sex) organisation and that non trans girls do not get to chose whether they share accommodation on trips with a transgirl. The choice lies with the transgender child. Parents are not informed if their daughters will be sharing what is effectively mixed sex accommodation. It’s difficult because the transgender child must have privacy - but how can parents give informed consent?

As a leader, I’m struggling to see how I can safely balance the needs, privacy and preferences of all children in my care under the current guidelines. I have challenged GGHQ but not received any satisfactory answers.

For reference, here’s the official policy:

If you have a view, do come and join us on the other thread. I’ll be offline for a while as I’m at guides later this afternoon but will be back tonight.

OP posts:
4Funnels · 07/03/2018 15:36


AgnesBadenPowell · 07/03/2018 15:40

@4Funnels thanks for the bump. If you're not interested please feel free to scroll on by

OP posts:
Minxmumma · 07/03/2018 15:42

Jeez I don't envy your position as a guide leader. What a headache to manage.
I'm a leader with the other side (beavers and scouts) and although we 'can' have mixed gender accommodation we are advised to inform all parents and children accordingly so that they can make informed choices and discuss their concerns with a leader.
To include this but only giving choice or discretion to a child who identifies as the opposite gender is so difficult. Whist respecting their right to choice and discretion there is always going to be one parent or child who finds out after the event and has a nuclear grade wobbly as they still see it as boys or girls no grey areas.

Inclusion is for all not the few. Be interested to hear more about how this works out after a while.

VladmirsPoutine · 07/03/2018 15:48

The problem I see here is that I don't think there is such a thing as a 'trans child'.

What do you mean by you haven't received a satisfactory answer? What did they say in their reply to you?

Having read the guidelines I'm very thrown by this bit:

A person does not have to disclose to you if they are trans.

That throws their entire policy out of the window.

And also this:

It is not a requirement - or best practice - to tell parents that a trans person will be attending a residential event.

What the hell does that actually mean or work in practice?

noeffingidea · 07/03/2018 15:48

Wouldn't be happy with my daughter having to share facilities with a boy, albeit one who identifies as a girl. If the trans child was unhappy about sleeping in the boys room then they should be offered a seperate room if one is available.

JanDough · 07/03/2018 15:50

You asked for the thoughts of a wider group.

Speaking on behalf of many posters I've read who are really bored and tired of anti-trans threads dressed up as 'discussions' ...


Stompythedinosaur · 07/03/2018 15:56

I would be fine about my dds sharing with a girl who was transgender. I wouldn't expect others to be given a choice about sharing with a transgender person, that would be like asking permission for your child to share with someone who was gay or black, obviously wrong.

I don't believe that either children or adults choose to identify as transgender (thus making their lives very difficult) for the sole reason to gain access to female areas for nefarious purposes.

SemaMjinga · 07/03/2018 16:00

vlad i have posted on the other thread alot. I am a parent and have contacted the GirlGuides and the NSPCC about this...i posted the replies on the thread that OP links too. That demonstrates their position on this

AgnesBadenPowell · 07/03/2018 16:00

I raised a number of concerns with GGHQ - including sex vs gender, mixed sex accommodation, requiring transboys (so still female sex) to leave GG at a time when they need our support feels cruel, if they would rather stay. I also challenged them on how GG will fight gender stereotypes when we define girls by those stereotypes.

It was along letter, with careful references and sources.

GGHQ sent me a template email reply. They said that GG has always been a single gender group and that "When we use the term ‘gender identity’ in guiding we are referring to a person’s inner sense of being a girl or a woman. We consider this to be separate to the biological definition of sex – being male or female."

The included a bland statement about always challenging stereotypes.

They said that if a girl choses not to join GG because of its policies or principles (as I was concerned that some girls wouldn't be able to join us if not truly single sex for cultural or religious reasons) then GG accepts their decision not to join. So a big FU to any girl who for reasons outside of her control can only attend a single sex group.

My safeguarding concerns were not answered except to say all volunteers have DBS checks (which I know, I am a leader!) and have safeguarding training (ditto).

OP posts:
SemaMjinga · 07/03/2018 16:03

Its not the same as sharing with a person who is gay or black stompy. Safeguarding guidelines everywhere, states that accomodation and facilities should be sex segregated for overnight stays with under 18s. Are you saying that you dont brlieve sex segregation or same sex chaperones are important for safeguarding children?

NoqontroI · 07/03/2018 16:05

I would want to know that my DD was sharing with a biological male. I would likely let that happen as she is still quite young, as long as she was ok with it, but I should have the right to know whether my child is in single sex accomodation or not, so that we can make a choice about that ourselves.

AgnesBadenPowell · 07/03/2018 16:09

To be clear, the self identity principle applies to adult leaders and children.

This is not an anti trans discussion. This is about my exasperation with GG for not listening to it's leasers and some parents.

I know that 99.9% of transgender children pose no harm to anyone. But I think it would be naive in the extreme to assume that no predator would ever use self ID to gain access to children. Men (and most sexual offenders are Male, but not exclusively so) have gone to extraordinary lengths to commit crimes. In the wake of Rotherham, Oxford, Mesmac, Oxfam we need to be able to talk about this.

As I tried to make clear, it's also about privacy. If a girl doesn't want to share a tent with a transgirl - who she might have known as a boy - what do I do? Most Guiding camps and halls don't have enough space for everyone to have their own room.

OP posts:
WhenWillThisMadnessEnd · 07/03/2018 16:09

This reply has been deleted

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

toooldforthisshirt37 · 07/03/2018 16:09

I am a Brownie leader and while I am unsure if I will ever come across this (due to the ages of my girls). I have concerns.

I wouldn't know how to explain the trans issue to my girls. I struggle with it myself. We are volunteers and while we have good training, this isn't covered, or hasn't been in my area, to date.

I would assume that explaining the issue would be a parent's job, not mine. So surely parents should be made aware, although I agree that breaks the confidentiality of the trans child. It is a really tough one!

I would be concerned for the trans child's privacy and how we would handle it if that child was "discovered" on residential by the other girls. Do we just blythely throw it in at pick up from Brownie Pack Holiday "oh by the way you may get questions on the way home as to why Holly has a penis..."

To be honest I wouldn't have a problem with a trans child at meetings but would worry that I am properly armed with the right information to take that child on a residential.

Before I get flamed for trans hating, I don't hate anyone, I just don't know much about it and haven't ever met a trans person (to my knowledge).

AgnesBadenPowell · 07/03/2018 16:13

@toooldforthisshirt37 I agree in that meetings each week in the church hall aren't really an issue. It's the accommodation aspect that worries me, in a safeguarding and privacy sense for al children

OP posts:
ThroughThickAndThin01 · 07/03/2018 16:14

I think it is concerning. The issues are huge. I don’t understand why it’s being dismissed so flippantly.

Fugitivefrombrusstice · 07/03/2018 16:14

I know this is off-topic but why is there so much more anti-trans sentiment on MN than any other forum? The views here are so unreflective of what I see on news sites, facebook, other online forums. I'd just be interested to know what it is about MN that makes it flourish.

toooldforthisshirt37 · 07/03/2018 16:17

Absolutely! I would have no idea what to do about safe guarding, or supporting a trans child or leader at residential.

And I am definitely not qualified to explain to my 7 to 10 years olds the intricacies of the trans issue.

I also think that most of the parents in our area would remove their girls if we had a trans leader. I am in NI and we aren't the most 21st century people!

It is a really hard one and certainly something that there should be more discussion about.

AgnesBadenPowell · 07/03/2018 16:19

@Fugitivefrombrusstice my take on is that Mumsnet is one of the only forums out there that allows discussion of these issues.

Even a large, unofficial GG Facebook page for leaders deletes trans related topics or removes the ability to comment. In a closed group for leaders only, that you need to have proof of to join.

I had nowhere else to post about this because either it would be removed or any actual debate would be lost in "you're a bigoted hateful transphobe" rhetoric. How does that help anyone?

OP posts:
SmurfOrTerf · 07/03/2018 16:20

Fugitive its because the TRA's are pushing NO DEBATE
People here are not ANTI trans, they just want to protect safe spaces for women and girls.

With self ID this becomes a real problem.
So whilst people go zzzzzzz
The real problem is once safe spaces are gone we will never get them back

Auntieaunt · 07/03/2018 16:20

I'm a brownie guide leader-

I would absolutely welcome a trans girl into our unit. Would I accept a child who still associated with being boy i.e a mother too lazy to drive her son to scouts but said he was now a she.

Would I be fine with a transgirl sharing with a dorm of girls on pack holiday? yes because usually girls are in rooms of 8+ people therefore no room for any funny business- also don't believe children are sexual at that age.

Would I feel uncomfortable with say a 14 year old trans girl participating on guide camp (ie 10-14). Guides usually stay in tents of 6, therefore I wouldn't believe anything would be going on between said child and another girl. But I would encourage the girls to get changed in the toilet cubical (which they all do, while girls may change a top around others they would never be starkers/everyone likes their privacy especially at that age).

The only issue I see with this new policy is it putting guiding in a negative light. From one guiding sister to another I don't think this discussion is going to be good for guiding (an organisation I absolutely adore). I imagine it's only a matter of time before it's picked up by the dailymail unless it already has.

SmurfOrTerf · 07/03/2018 16:21

x post Agnes.

RadioGaGoo · 07/03/2018 16:21

That's funny Fugitivefrombrusstice, because in the majority of social media I see, there are concerns being raised about self identifying.

VladmirsPoutine · 07/03/2018 16:36

It sounds like they're massively trying to fudge their way through it by being 'unclearly, clear', if you will.

I totally see your point OP. It seems you are stuck between a rock and a hard place. In my own view there really isn't such a thing as 'trans child'. But here we find ourselves and you are having to try to navigate your way through this maze, as is @toooldforthisshirt37 too. This where we are so we have to work from here. The world has officially gone mad.

But what can I do on a practical level? Could I also write to them pin-pointing out some of the unclear aspects of their policy and ask for clarification?

What is required here is clarity and more resources. If GGHQ can provide the extra money for individual rooms etc then fine. I'm going to hazard a guess that they can't do that. So the only thing remaining is to push them on the issue.

SemaMjinga · 07/03/2018 16:41

fugitive because women have legitimate concerns about the impact on female spaces and services, of self-identification. MN is one of very few public forums, used predominantly by women. And MN allow the discussions to happen because they recognise that the concerns ARE legitimate and NOT transphobic

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