The Girl Guides of Canada wants "girls to be confident, resourceful and courageous, and to make a difference in the world," according to its website. Now its new policy allows transgender girls to join nationwide, expanding upon its goals in helping all girls grow up to change the world.
The new policy declares Girl Guides "are the authority on their own name and gender identity" and are welcome as long as they identify as a girl at the Girl Guides. Guides cannot be denied access to washrooms that "correspond with their gender," and that their "privacy should be respected by all members," BuzzFeed reported Wednesday. While trans girls were previously included, the organization stated potential trans members must be "individually evaluated" and included on a case-by-case basis.
"As an inclusive organization, we are committed to supporting an environment where all girls and women feel accepted, respected and empowered," Pamela Rice, chief commissioner of Girl Guides of Canada, told BuzzFeed.
Growing acceptance: The Girl Guides aren't the only organization of this kind committed to accepting all it claims to benefit. Scouts Canada, a co-ed scouting organization, accepts "boys and girls, we accept LGBT members, we accept people of all faiths," Kaylee Galipeau, national youth commissioner and chair of the national youth network for Scouts Canada, told CTV News in 2013.
Similar organizations in the United States are trans-inclusive too. The Girl Scouts of America began welcoming trans girls four years ago and recently reaffirmed its commitment to doing so. One chapter, the Girl Scouts of Western Washington, even rejected $100,000 donated by an individual who demanded the money not be used to support transgender girls.
"Girl Scouts is for every girl," the council's CEO, Megan Ferland, told Seattle Met. "And every girl should have the opportunity to be a Girl Scout if she wants to."
The bigger picture: Inclusive policies not only reflect well on these organizations, but can also benefit trans youth at a particularly vulnerable time in their lives. For example, transgender youth experience higher rates of mental health issues like depression, anxiety, suicide attempts and self-harm, according to a study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health. However, studies also show when trans youth's identities are recognized by others, it reduces their rate of depression and anxiety.