Listening to, respecting and supporting trans members

During Trans Awareness Week and all year round

08 November 2022

We’re a proudly trans inclusive organisation.

That means we respect, listen to and support trans girls and women.

Transgender Awareness Week, running from 13 to 19 November, is a great way to remind ourselves of all the ways we can make our organisation a safe and welcoming place for these members. We want them to know that they can find a home at Girlguiding, just like any other member.

Here’s some ways you can support trans members, and trans people in your life, all year round:

Listen to members who tell you they’re trans

You might have a young member or volunteer disclose their trans identity to you. They might have been a member for a while and feel comfortable to tell you they’re a trans girl or woman for the first time. Or they might be someone assigned female at birth who has realised they are a different gender.

They’ve come to you as a trusted person and it’s important to listen to them.

If any member of Girlguiding, trans or otherwise, is being bullied, harassed or discriminated against, please remember it's a safeguarding issue. If you think this is happening, you need to follow our Safeguarding policy and procedure.

Reassure members that they’ll be supported

Trans members may be going through a lot of uncertainty. At this time, Girlguiding can be a great source of support and comfort.

If a young person tells you anything about their gender identity, you should be aware that they might not have told many people, and that it’s a sign they trust you as a leader or volunteer.

If a young member tells you she’s a trans girl, reassure her that her trans status or history isn’t a problem in guiding and you’ll support her as you do all members. Make sure she knows that she can tell you if anyone is not supportive.

If a young member tells you that they’re a boy, or questioning their gender identity, remember they can stay in guiding for as long as they want to. The welfare of the young person is the most important thing.

Reassure them that their gender identity is not an issue and that they’ll be supported by guiding throughout this personal time of exploration and, potentially, of change. Make sure they know they can tell you if anyone is not supportive.

There may come a time when guiding is no longer the right place for them. Speak to them about the fact that when or if this happens, you will support that changeover.

Learn and remember new names and pronouns

If a member tells you that they’re a boy, or questioning their gender, they may choose a different pronoun such as ‘he’ or ‘they’ - this should be respected. They might also choose a new name, which should be respected too.

Don’t be worried about getting new names and pronouns wrong and don’t over-apologise if you do. This might make it uncomfortable for everyone involved. Instead, correct yourself and move on with the conversation. have lots of advice if you want to learn more about pronouns and why they matter.

Respect confidence and privacy at all times

Some members may be open about being trans, others may wish to keep this information private. Their decision must be respected and mustn’t be shared without their permission, regardless of their age.

Other volunteers, young members or parents of other children don’t have the right to know if a child or volunteer is trans, and confidentiality must be upheld to respect privacy.

There may be times where you’re making plans together and informing others becomes necessary - for example if the child wants to start using a different name and pronoun. Discuss this with the young person and decide what and how to share. If you’d like advice on this, then please contact [email protected].

More advice

Our Supporting trans members webpages have lots of advice for supporting trans young members and volunteers. If you are having a chat with people about topics like being trans, our Guiding conversations webpage and Approaching sensitive conversations webpage have lots of tips.