It is now official; transgender girls are now allowed to join in on the fun that the Girl Guides of Canada offers. In a recent update to their guidelines, Girl Guides of Canada has updated its guidelines to allow transgender girls to take part in all guiding activities.
In a telephone interview with the Huffington Post Canada, Rice said that “if the child identifies as a girl, regardless of her biological sex assignment, we will treat her and welcome her to the organization.”
The change to the girl guides’ policies has been soundly applauded by many groups, including Gender Creative Kids Canada, who notes that organizations need to focus on how the person might perceive him or herself rather than what genitalia the person was born with.
The new guidelines for the Girl Guides of Canada were crafted over the course of a couple of years, thanks in large part to increased awareness of gender diversity issues and the rising number of transgendered children who want to participate in guiding activities. Akiko Asano of Gender Creative Kids Canada also says that the girl guides also need to pay careful attention to the pronoun the child wishes to use.
“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 said. “… Not everyone has access to be able to change their legal name right away.”
In changing their guidelines to be more supportive of transgender children and adults who want to participate in girl guides, the Girl Guides of Canada is also giving a degree of freedom and autonomy to a group that tends not to have very much of that from a legal perspective.
According to Asano, trans girls who want to make use of a separate washroom should be accommodated, but in situations where transgender girl guides want to ensure they are treated the same as their peers of the same age, they should be allowed to use the same washroom as their peers.
In addition, the Girl Guides of Canada guidelines also offer protocols to follow when the transgender child has revealed their gender identity in their guiding group, but has not yet done so on the home front. The new girl guides regulations puts an emphasis on the child’s individual comfort level at the center, which has also won the organization praise.
The Toronto Star reported that the new protocols for the Girl Guides of Canada were designed to help make both children and adults who identified as transgender feel comfortable within their agency.
“We are committed to supporting an environment where all girls and women feel accepted,” Rice said.
Indeed, the Girl Guides of Canada has as a part of its Promise “To be true to myself, my beliefs and Canada.” Being true to oneself means being true to your own identity, and that concept should include gender. Its Guiding Law has as one of its fundamental principles to “live with courage and strength.” While every segment of the population sees people living with courage and strength daily, nowhere is this more true than within the LGBTQ community.
The Girl Guides of Canada saw their new regulations come into effect October 13.
[Feature image by Vivian Evans, Flickr, Feb. 18, 2010, Alex Scarecrow Coonabarabran Girl Guides]