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Volunteering at Scouts is changing to help us reach more young people

Volunteering is changing to help us reach more young people

Volunteering is changing at Scouts. Read more

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What is Gender Identity?

What is Gender Identity?

Gender identity refers to your internal knowledge of your own gender (knowing you’re a man, woman or neither). For example, an adult or young person could be:

  • transgender or trans: people whose gender is not the same as, or does not sit comfortably with, the sex they were assigned at birth
  • transitioning: the steps a trans person may take to live in the gender with which they identify
  • non-binary: people who feel their gender cannot be defined within the margins of gender binary, therefore they do not identify as male or female
  • intersex: a person who may, at birth, have the biological attributes of both sexes or whose biological attributes do not fit with societal assumptions about what constitutes male or female
  • questioning: someone questioning their gender identity

Take the time to research these, so you feel comfortable in your knowledge of them should a young person or adult want to discuss their gender with you. 

Scouts is open to all and welcomes young people and adults, regardless of their gender. This guidance has information on supporting young people, adult volunteers and external organisations who can provide more information.

A person’s gender identity is their inner sense of their own gender. This is different from their assigned ‘sex’. We're all assigned a sex at birth (male or female) based on the physical attributes we're born with.

Also be aware that a person’s gender identity is separate from their sexual orientation – more information on sexual orientation.

A transgender (or trans) person is someone who feels that the sex they were assigned at birth doesn't match well with the gender they identify as.

This includes:

  • people who were assigned female at birth, but whose gender is male (trans men)
  • people who were assigned male at birth, but whose gender is female (trans women)
  • and people who don't identify as male or female (non-binary people).

Trans, transgender and non-binary are commonly accepted terms, but some people will prefer to use one or more of a much wider range of terms to describe their gender identity instead.

Transitioning is when a person takes steps to change the outward expression of their gender, so that it better aligns with their inner sense of gender.

For some people this will involve things, such as:

  • telling their friends or family
  • dressing differently
  • changing pronouns (whether they are referred to as he/she/they)
  • or changing their name.

Some trans people will decide to have medical procedures or hormone therapy, but this isn't the case for everyone.

Every trans person is different, so the steps they decide to take will be different too.

Gender reassignment is the legal term and protected characteristic in the Equality Act 2010 that protects trans people from discrimination, whether or not they are taking medical steps to transition.

It means that organisations, including The Scouts, have a legal duty to ensure trans people don't experience poor treatment, bullying or discrimination and that they've equal opportunities to participate.

This means making sure that we remove barriers and make adjustments so that trans members can access Scouts just as easily as anyone else.

Trans young people may find puberty a particularly difficult time as their body is changing in a way that may not feel comfortable to them and their own sense of gender. This may mean that they worry about their physical appearance.

Unfortunately, many trans people still experience bullying and discrimination in society. Just like any form of prejudice, this can be deeply distressing and may lead to poor mental health. However, it's important not to assume that everyone will have the same experience.

It's important that in Scouts all young people and adults feel welcome, included and valued for who they are.

Be aware that someone who is LGBT+ may have experienced discrimination or bullying in other areas of their life.

Therefore it's ever more important that Scouts creates a positive, supportive environment, which actively celebrates difference.