Girlguiding leaders have come out in defense of their decision to welcome trans leaders and members following a dissenting open letter signed by current and former unit leaders and parents.
The original letter which garnered over 220 signatures, said that the decision “compels units to accept boys who self-identify as girls for camping trips and other activities.” It continued, “A boy who identifies as a girl is still legally and physically male. Trans inclusion, while laudable, must not sacrifice the safety, privacy or inclusion of girls.”
However, Girlguiding chief Amanda Medler and chief executive Ruth Marvel released a joint statement rejecting the criticism. It said: “In the last few days you may have seen that Girlguiding’s equality and diversity policy has been criticised in the media, with accusations that our inclusion of trans members puts girls at risk. It does not…simply being transgender does not make someone more of a safeguarding risk than any other person.”
The media criticism mentioned occurred when ex-unit leader Helen Watts appeared on the news speaking about her removal from Girlguiding following her critical posts encouraging people to breach the equality policy, breaking the organisation’s social media rules. Watts told the media that girl guides had a right to “female only spaces” without trans children: “It’s about putting girls at the centre and making sure that if girls would prefer to have a single sex space they have that choice without the fear of themselves being labelled bigots.”
The case was soon brought up by Piers Morgan on breakfast TV, himself no stranger to worrying viewpoints, when he argued with Susie Green, the head of Mermaids – a support organisation for young trans children. Morgan declared he would want to know if his child was sharing a tent with a transgender girl, saying: “It’s very problematic, and to pretend that it’s not, and to pretend that it doesn’t cause a lot of people concern is in itself, I think, wrong.” Green countered: “Trans girls are girls. They go into girls’ spaces because they are girls.”
Susie also had a response for complainant Helen Watts: “What she’s doing is saying that trans girls aren’t real girls and so they should be excluded. These children are not predators, they’re not something to be feared. Putting it in that context is encouraging transphobia, encouraging prejudice and encouraging the thinking that ‘this is somebody I should be worried about’ – when actually, they’re just kids.”
Girlguiding put the argument to rest by stating: “We are a young people’s organisation. Our focus has been, and will remain, providing our young members with opportunities to learn, grow and discover in a fun, safe, inclusive and legally compliant way.”
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