You are here

Transgender and Scouting

I've been an Explorer Scout leader in Itchen North, Hampshire since around 2006, after coming all the way up from Beavers.
Around about 13, I became consciously aware of some gender confusion in my life, feeling like I should have been female. Needless to say, I kept this to myself as I had no idea why, or if anyone else had similar thoughts. Looking back, there are lots of feelings and things that have happened that now make sense.
The first time I started properly accepting my gender issues was around 18 years old in 2000, thanks to the growing internet and finding out there were other people around in similar situations.

In 2008/2009, while dealing with mild depression, I started living part of the time and socialising as female.
Early 2009 I finally felt it was the right time and set a date to transition into living full time as Deanna on the 1st of May 2009.
Scouting was a big part of my life and was the biggest thing holding me back from transitioning earlier as I didn't know what the reactions would be from leaders, the members, or headquarters and was fearing the worst.

I notified my District Commissioner and Scouting HQ to explain the situation and had a meeting with my other Explorer leaders to discuss how we let the Explorers know. We settled on a straight forward letter explaining Gender Identity Disorder, and that I would be returning to scouting as a woman called Deanna.
When the time came, we sat everyone down and explained what was happening, and to my surprise, everyone was really positive. I even got a few "Congratulations" from various people.

A few months after this, I started having some problems with another member of the district. On our yearly district camp, I was banned from using any toilet or changing rooms on camp and was restricted to the disabled toilet in the staff accommodation. Not just inconvenient, this was highly embarrassing, with more discrimination and similar restrictions imposed at other district events and the following year's camp.

After being involved in a successful international event run by the County, I was prompted to speak to my County Commissioner who escalated to HQ, which ended up with the other person being suspended and removed from Scouting.
This was the only problem I had in Scouting since coming out as transgender!

Since then I have become involved in FLAGS, the LGBT SAS unit and helped with improving the policy and procedures, and representing Scouting at the Pride in London parades.
I am also training to provide support through the diversity and inclusion teams at the county and national level, to raise awareness of equality of all forms, and to dispel many myths around LGBT members in Scouting.


A trimmed version was published as Open to All by the UK scouting diversity team during Transgender awareness week.