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Guides leaders expelled for questioning transgender ideology

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The media has recently been full of reports on the consequences of people ‘self-identifying’ as the opposite sex (such as in the separate cases of Shaun Pudwell and Philip Bunce), but when 12 Girl Guides leaders signed a letter warning of the dangers of a Girlguiding transgender policy, they were penalised for being ‘intolerant’ and two Guides leaders were expelled.

Leaders expelled for speaking up

Since updating Girlguiding’s equality and diversity policy last year to include a ‘transgender policy’, the Guides have allowed adults and children who ‘self-identify’ as female to be leaders and members, despite still having male bodies. On trips away, the children can share bathrooms and bedrooms.

The policy states that leaders are not permitted to tell girls or their parents if their daughter’s leader, or fellow member, is transgender.

The group of 12 Guides leaders initially signed a letter to The Sunday Times, asking for a review of the policy due to “safety concerns” for young girls, arguing that parents had a right to know if their daughters were sharing showers and sleeping arrangements with people that had “the physical body of a boy”. Helen Watts, one of the expelled leaders, said that girls had a right to “female-only spaces”. She said: “I am very upset and I am also really angry. We had some serious concerns about a policy that ignored basic safeguarding principles.”

She added that, “the policy puts all leaders in a really difficult position. It contradicts other inclusion policies – for certain faith communities for instance – and it completely contradicts existing policies around informed parental consent”.

However, Girl Guides has argued that transgender children pose no more of a safeguarding threat than anyone else.

In a written statement, chief guide Amanda Medler and acting chief executive Ruth Marvel claimed that the inclusion of trans members does not put girls at risk.

Self-identification causes concern

Appearing on Good Morning Britain, Susie Green, chief executive of Mermaids UK – an organisation that that claims to “raise awareness about gender nonconformity” and ‘support’ the families of transgender children by encouraging gender transition – said that transgender children were more likely to be at risk of bullying and assault than anyone else.

She added: “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.”

However, Caroline Farrow, columnist for UK Catholic Press, said that there were already “safeguarding holes” and that parents needed to be informed so that they could “give informed consent”.

Presenter, Piers Morgan, summarised the issue as follows: “The idea that you can just wake up one day and say, ‘right, I feel like now I’m not a boy, I want to be a girl’ … at the early stages, when you may not even be completely sure, the idea that you just enter a female environment when in schools you would be segregated – that causes parents concern.”

Threat to freedom of speech

But self-identification is not the only the only concern. The idea that you could be penalised for raising a genuine safeguarding issue should worry us.

Gavin Ashenden writes, “Our society is being driven by a new ideology that focuses on identity politics and gender. Strangely many of the people who have swallowed the moral imperatives of these new preoccupations do it with a strange ruthlessness, and are inclined to take no prisoners.

“The new guardians of gender ethics appear to set the tone in medicine, the law, policing, the armed forces, the schools, the universities and even voluntary organisations for children. It turns out that if you belong to any of these organisations, paid or as a volunteer, you had better not raise your head and ask questions.”


Read Gavin Ashenden’s blog
Watch the debate on Good Morning Britain
Read more on the BBC
Read more in The Times