Has the Guide movement been naïve over its transgender policy

PUBLISHED: 18:16 03 October 2018 | UPDATED: 18:19 03 October 2018

Girl Guides taking part in a camp in East Anglia

Girl Guides taking part in a camp in East Anglia


Rachel Moore has concerns that a determination to be PC may mean that basic safeguarding is overlooked

The Guide movement has put itself at the centre of a transgender row by welcoming men who identify as women to become leaders.

The 108-year-old organisation is trying to be all things to all females, which, arguably is exactly what a movement designed for girls and women should be doing, leading the way and reflecting changes in society.

After all, it should be teaching its girls about acceptance and dispelling discrimination and prejudice from its ranks, so how better than to accept boys and men presenting as girls and women as members and leaders and promote understanding of difference and how to embrace them?

It has acted with absolutely the best intentions and in that respects deserves praise. However, I fear that by so badly wanting to be seen to be doing the right thing, to be fully inclusive and bowing so low to political correctness, Guiding leaders may have overlooked basic risk, or at least publicly acknowledging that they take risk seriously.

Do they fear that even acknowledging that there might be any risk from sending 10-14-year-old girls to summer camp with men who identify themselves as women, or sharing tents with boys presenting as girls, would be offensive to the transcommunity?

It also refuses to reveal to parents if any of its members are transgender.

I totally get it. But would I be as understanding if I had twin 13-year-old girls heading off to a camp where they might be sharing a tent with someone who is physically still a male, however much that male identifies as a woman, or with a male presenting himself as a female leader? I can’t say I would.

Parents surely need to be confident that the movement they are entrusting their children to views the situation as a potential risk, however small?

To ignore and gloss over that would be wholly irresponsible, just as it would be irresponsible to ignore the risk of any adult being left alone with children overnight.

Bad things do happen, bad people exist and infiltrate organisations for the worst intentions. Assessing risk considers every possible danger, however slim the chance, to safeguard its members, satisfy parents, and protect itself from negligence.

Boys and men representing as women in a group of girls is a potential risk, however unpalatable it is to say it out loud.

The movement’s recent sacking of a Guide leader who warned that its transgender policy was promoting ideology over girls’ safety is a public refusal to accept that abusive men could exploit its inclusivity, putting children in danger.

By desperately trying to be PC and offend no one, it’s being naive.

By placating a minority group with its hard-line open-door policy, it has right royally hacked off the majority, the parents, who provide the organisation’s life blood.

Predatory males are everywhere, but of course to assume every man that presents as a woman is manipulative and ready to abuse is an obvious misconception and one that the guiding movement has a responsibility to try to dispel.

But only last month it was revealed that a man presenting as a woman, who was accused of sexual assaults on women, was remanded to a female prison where she was accused of sexually assaulting fellow inmates.

We would all love a perfect world. One where we could trust everyone, accept everyone for who they are, want to be or say they are, no questions asked.

The Guiding movement’s rules would be a perfect fit for this world that doesn’t exist.

By wanting to reflect today’s society, it is ignoring that the reality is far from the cuddly embrace-all-and-everyone love-in most of us long for society to be.

The spectrum of human nature means that’s simply a pipe dream because some people are bad and not as they present themselves to us at all.

We all want our children to grow up comfortable and confident in their own skin, accepted for who they are and nurtured to reach their potential whatever is thrown in their way.

But there’s a long hard road to trudge before we get there, and that will only come from open discussion, experience and time.

People fear what they don’t wholly understand. Unless we’ve experienced the pain, anguish and mental torture of a loved one living in the wrong body and yearning to be someone else, understanding is a fantasy.

The Guiding movement, like so may others, has a role to play to help shape that acceptance by increasing exposure to people emerging from their former gender wilderness.

But it needs open discussion about how it is doing that, to reassure parents that their children won’t be in danger from influence – we all know how suggestible, curious and vulnerable 10-14-year-olds are to peer pressure and experimenting.

They often find life bewildering, working to identify their place in the world, where they fit.

It is certainly not a one-dimensional simple issue to be solved like this.

If I were a mother of a transgirl, I would fight with my last breath for her to be included, but I’d
want the other parents reassured too.

But for everyone to accept, Guides must act responsibly with safeguarding at the forefront of everything it does, and we’re a long way off that now.

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