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Simon Tam

Founder and Bassist, The Slants LLC

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Should the Girl Scouts Allow Transgender Students to Join the Organization?

Last year, The Girls Scouts made headlines whena single troop leader denied a transgender child admission into the organization. The decision caused a bit of a stir and several leaders resigned and dissolved their troops after the incident.

This year, the Girl Scouts international allowed the same child (Bobby Montoya) to join but now other Girl Scouts are protesting the decision. In fact, one scout (identified only as Taylor) has made a YouTube video crticizing the decision, stating that it endangers the girls for allowing the boy who identifies as a girl to enter.

Personally, I believe that the protesting girl does not grasp the Girl Socuts’ mission of “Girl Scouting builds girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place” or their ideas of empowerment: “relate to others with increasing understanding, skill, and respect; develop values to guide their actions and provide the foundation for sound decision-making; and contribute to the improvement of society through their abilities, leadership skills, and cooperation with others.”

What do you think?

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    Jan 13 2012: As a Girl Scout Ambassador, I believe transgender students should be allowed to join what I consider one of the best organizations in the world. In the Girl Scout Law the following words and phrases: fair, caring, and "make the world a better place" are used. Obviously, the leaders and/or executive officers of Girl Scouts were not living up to this. They have not made the world a better place; they have made the world a turmoiled and hateful place. They weren't being fair or caring either. Girls of any sexual orientation are allowed to be members, so why not transgender students?

    Men are allowed to be troop leaders or other authorities (or at least in my council). Also one Girl Scout did her Gold Award project on issues affecting the LGBT community, you may read more here: (http://www.girlscouts.org/news/news_releases/2007/young_women_distinction_2007.asp). She was nationally recognized for her project. So some other Girl Scouts are obviously not being tolerant here. I do not understand why gender is an issue with these other Girl Scouts, since Girl Scouts is supposed to be a non-religious organization.

    If any fellow Girl Scouts are reading this comment, I hope you consider "making the world a better place" of acceptance.
    • Comment deleted

      • Jan 16 2012: Who are you to tell anyone, boy, girl, or transgender, what their place in the world is? Just because you clearly believe that transgendered people are sick and wrong, doesn't necessarily make it so. There are millions who would agree, and millions more who would disagree.
        I was a girl scout all the way through school, and the emphasis was always on inclusion and understanding, even for those with physical disabilities or mental illnesses. Although I disagree that transgenderism is either of these, if you view it as such, then that alone should prohibit this young person from being excluded.
        Perhaps, having not been a girl scout yourself, only vicariously involved through your daughter, you were not able to benefit from the Girl Scouts lessons and atmosphere of tolerance. It seems a shame to keep your daughter, or any other girl in the organization, from a chance to broaden their understanding of humans in all their glorious variations, and decide for themselves whether to accept or reject.
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        Jan 16 2012: @Bridget, as I stated above...Biologists, psychologists, and sociologists all agree that "gender" is far more than simply what set of sexual organs a child has been born with. In fact, most scientific approaches now see gender as a social construct, not something that is clear-cut or inherent in our nature. Sex and gender researched John Money stated: "In popularized and scientifically debased usage, sex is what you are biologically; gender is what you become socially; gender identity is your own sense or conviction of maleness or femaleness; and gender role is the cultural stereotype of what is masculine and feminine. "

        That kind of limited approach to the situation is why transgender persons have been suffering from the lack of basic human rights in our society.
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        Jan 17 2012: I would like you to see my posts about my time as a Campfire Girl. I am not gay or transgendered, just a boy who was in an area where there was no boy scouts available. My inclusion never caused and controversy and no special efforts were required to deal with my gender. I would also like to say that your opinion about treating sexual orientation as a mental illness is as far from human rights as pogroms against the Jews or burning of witches or the actions of the HUAC under McCarthy or the TSA against women carrying to much breast milk.
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        Jan 18 2012: Bridget, you have multiple posts suggesting offense claiming that this isn't a "debate" but rather just one-sided attacks. Challenging your views/claims and citing evidence is simply just a normal part of the debate. Coming here to " jazz things up " by throwing out "HAS A PENIS=BOY" isn't much of an intellectual exercise or debate at all. If you want to have an actual discussion of ideas, bring some support - don't just rely on heresay, stereotypes, or assumptions. We're all adults here. I welcome any information brought that enriches the discussion.
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      Jan 17 2012: By the way Emily, thanks for sharing the link. It's great to find out that one of the Girl Scouts was nationally recognized for righting against the prejudice faced by the LGBT community and that she recruited her whole church to help out as well.
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      Jan 23 2012: Please accept my apologies for snippy comment I made about Girl Scouts Vs Camp Fire, I really didn't mean them I was just trying to make in my own way the same point as you about accepting others and friendship ideals at the foundation of both our groups. I am sure that if I had been in an area where there existed a Girl Scouts Troop and no boyscout troop I would have been made welcome to the Girl Scouts somehow.
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    Jan 23 2012: In another thread I was recently involved in I was given these links for information regarding the brain activity and structure of different genders and of transgender people. I hope that this will serve to help some people understand that what is at issue is not a mental illness(not that mental illness' are in any way less real than a physical condition) but instead a deeply rooted brain biological issue that as of yet we do not understand.

    http://brain.oxfordjournals.org/content/131/12/3115.full
    http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn20032-transsexual-differences-caught-on-brain-scan.html
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      Jan 23 2012: Thanks for sharing!

      I think it's vital that before we pass judgement using personal biases that we consider the other point of view and give a genuine consideration of the facts at hand.

      However, sometimes I wonder how much of an effect these studies have on people who are rooted in traditional gender binaries since it doesn't necessarily address systematic problems (a legal and social system that is heavily discriminatory against transgender individuals). But still, good to know that there are people who are continuing to work in this vital area.
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      Jan 23 2012: Here's another article you might be interested in:

      http://skepchick.org/2011/12/sacrificing-privilege/

      It is from the point of view of a transsexual and the privileges/difference experienced on each side of the spectrum.
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    Jan 18 2012: What I am reading here is a bunch of adults arguing a topic that children care nothing about. As we grew up we were subjected to norms in society. Our parents learned them from their parents, who learned them from their parents, so on and so forth. Norms like racism, alcoholism, addiction, child abuse, ignorance, intolerance and the like are generally learned behaviors. We are not born with them. They do not exist in our DNA makeup and simply aren't something we think about as children.

    I never cared if it was a boy or a girl, white, black, brown, fat, short, tall, whatever else who played as long as they were nice and were a friend.

    Assigning names and genders and putting people in groups is something that adults to do understand THEIR worlds. This is something that we can recognize in ourselves and decide that we are going to stop the pattern, stop the education of ignorance, and allow our children to befriend anyone they would like.

    Focusing on Scouts programs...there is a program for boys and a program for girls. What if someone is born into one but their psychological expression is for another? I personally feel that anyone should be allowed to join either group. Children are amazing creatures and may inherently know that they can accomplish more with a set of peers that are physically different from them.

    Why become angry over something that you can not change? Why not allow your child to be tolerant of other people? What would it do to your world to allow progress in thought in your children?
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      Jan 18 2012: I think sometimes it's easy to get so carried away with the debating the "what" that we forget they "why": being examples of compassion, understanding, love, and acceptance.

      I saw a great post in another TED thread about this - before we have a knee jerk reaction, we should simply step back and look at it from the bigger picture. Why do we feel this way? What can we do to foster greater understanding and harmony?
  • Jan 16 2012: I never understand this kind of thing.

    It is the Girl Scouts.

    The solution here is to create Transgender Scouts, not to force an unwelcomed intruder into a predetermined group.

    Besides, if they don't want you around (for whatever reason), go find some other friends. Don't insist on being included, it is counter-productive.

    SEP
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      Jan 16 2012: @Seth and @Bridget - Several things:

      1) Bobby was already accepted by the Girl Scouts so your argument of "forcing an unwanted intruder into a predetermined group" has a false premise to begin with. The Girl Scouts don't have an issue with Bobby (they realized excluding her was their mistake), it is one of the existing members that has an issue. Just because one member of a group doesn't want a person, it doesn't mean that the entire organization feels the same.

      2) You are suggesting that transgender persons have no place in "male" or "female" groupings, that they should be forced into their own "other" type of category. That's dehumanizing and sexist. Should we force them to have a transgender restroom as well?

      3) I think that the greater importance of this event isn't to "force" a child into an organization but to expand society's paradigm of understanding that transgender individuals deserve basic human rights as well. Currently, transgender persons do not have the same rights as non-transgender Americans, a direct violation of the 14th Amendment. Only 13 out of 50 states have passed laws prohibiting discrimination on the basis of gender identity and I think these type of issues spotlight the struggles of the community, helping bring attention to an important issue facing our society.
      • Jan 16 2012: Simon,

        The Scouts rejected him. Now the leadership has decided to let him join. In response, many parents are taking their kids out of the Scouts, some leaders are quitting, and one Scout went so far as to put up a YouTube video criticizing the leadership's decision. Perhaps our definition of 'accepted' is different. I think the correct phrase would be "those members in the troop which haven't quit yet are tacitly tolerating him."

        Joining the Girl Scouts is not a basic human right.

        Yes, I would favor having separate restrooms for transgender. How is that 'dehumanizing'? In your estimation, what was the point of segregating the sexes into different bathrooms in the first place?

        And what exactly is your objection to Transgender Scouts? This would not only solve this particular case but also give Transgender kids .an outlet and group where they can interact.

        SEP
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          Jan 16 2012: First of all, the organization did accept her. In a statement released by the Girl Scouts, they stated that "Girl Scouts is an inclusive organization and we accept all girls in Kindergarten through 12th grade as members...If a child identifies as a girl and the child's family presents her as a girl, Girl Scouts of Colorado welcomes her as a Girl Scout.” That same group has been upset over other decisions, such as allowing Gay & Lesbian scouts in, etc.

          And yes, your suggestion is dehumanizing. It is forcing individuals who don't fit some people's definition of gender into an "others" category, as if they were any less male or female than their counterparts based set of genitalia (but not including other factors such as chromosome makeup, psychological understanding, etc.).
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          Jan 16 2012: Also, in regards to your statement of "Joining the Girl Scouts is not a basic human right. "

          Read my statement in its entirety:

          "I think that the greater importance of this event isn't to "force" a child into an organization but to expand society's paradigm of understanding that transgender individuals deserve basic human rights as well. Currently, transgender persons do not have the same rights as non-transgender Americans, a direct violation of the 14th Amendment. Only 13 out of 50 states have passed laws prohibiting discrimination on the basis of gender identity and I think these type of issues spotlight the struggles of the community, helping bring attention to an important issue facing our society."
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          Jan 17 2012: My name is Russ and I am a Campfire Girl, I'm not gay transgendered or anything and the issue of adapting me to Campfire and Campfire to me was dealt with easily some 35 years ago.
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          Jan 18 2012: Seth you are saying that simply because someone's DNA got mixed up means that they have to live less of an existence than you or I. They have to have their own set of "other" to fit into any set. I recently heard a speech by a transgender man...I think that's how you say it...anyway He was born with female parts, but male expression. Eventually he had all the surgery necessary to assume he was a man from the waist up. ANYWAY...he said that the only way he was able to handle being of the "other" category growing up is because he had parents who embraced the differences. He had a community around him who wasn't opposed to gender bias and allowed him to join the scouts, practice karate, and do all kinds of things simply because he was better at them than playing dolls or wearing dresses.

          Being different is solitary enough without so many other people excluding you from basic activities that make you a better person. I suggest that the paradigm here is the reaction from the parents and children who are leaving the scouts because they allowed a transgender person WHO HAS ABSOLUTELY NO CONTROL OVER HOW THEY WERE BORN into the mix.
      • Jan 17 2012: Simon,

        "It is forcing individuals who do not fit some people's definition of gender into an 'other' category as if they were any less male or female than their counterparts based on set of genitalia."

        By 'some people's' you mean the 'traditionally accepted' definition of gender - based on genetics and genitalia (as evidence of said genetics).

        I am simply respecting other's right to define the basis for their inclusion and not trying to push *my* definition or opinion on them. If the Girl Scouts unanimously accepted Bobby I would have no objection, as my daughter is not a Scout. The controversy (and your question) have arisen, however, because his acceptance is not unanimous. Many members object. These members also have a right to freedom of assembly without being subjected to the LGBT agenda.

        Once again, the solution is to create a Transgender Scouts, or even an All Gender Scouts. Then boys and girls whose parents are comfortable with their child's peers experimenting with their sexual identity can have an all-inclusive group to enjoy. But if you are going to have a distinct Boy and Girl Scouts, it seems logical to follow the original intended distinction.

        But that is not enough for you. You have predetermined that the only solution is for the other members to drop their opinion and adopt your own. To not do so is 'dehumanizing.' Good debate, Simon.

        SEP
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          Jan 17 2012: You might also want to recheck your facts some more. None of the major dictionaries talk about genitilia in their definition of gender.

          The World Health Organization defines it as ""Gender" refers to the socially constructed roles, behaviours, activities, and attributes that a given society considers appropriate for men and women."

          Measurement of gender by researchers doesn't involve looking under a skirt so to speak, but rather on The Bem Sex Role Inventory (BSRI) and the Personal Attributes Questionnaire (PAQ) (both psychological, not physical).

          Also, try Bem. S.L.,(1974) The Measurement of Psychological Androgyny. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, (42) 2, 155-162 (as explained at http://www.gender.org.uk/about/00_defin.htm )

          No scientific evidence will support the argument that "Penis = male gender"
      • Jan 17 2012: Also, it was unneccessary to post your comment twice. I actually can read, despite being so backwards as to have a different opinion than you.

        The statement is why you have no credibility. With that single paragraph you went from 'I am concerned for these kids' to 'I have a political agenda which I will use these kids to further.'

        I was simply reminding you that joining is not a human right and therefore no constitutional disservice would have occurred had he been ultimately rejected.

        SEP
      • Jan 17 2012: Simon,

        "You might also want to check your facts some more. None of the major dictionaries talk about genitalia in their definition of gender."

        Alright. From the Merrian-Webster online dictionary:

        'sex - 1. either of the two major forms of individuals that occur in species and that are distinguished respectively as male and female especially in the basis of their reproductive organs and structures.'

        Granted, they do not share your fascination with the word 'genitalia' but I think we know what they mean.

        But really you are not even responding to my arguments. You are simply restating your opinion in a disrespectful manner, either insisting I do not know the 'facts' or labelling my opinion as 'dehumanizing.' As I can not respond in kind by hitting you in the face, I will save both of us the frustration and exit the conversation. Good debate.

        SEP
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          Jan 17 2012: You're ignoring the facts here. I said "Gender," not sex (which is a different concept altogether since this issue is revolved around gender).

          From the same dictionary (Merrian Webster):

          a: a subclass within a grammatical class (as noun, pronoun, adjective, or verb) of a language that is partly arbitrary but also partly based on distinguishable characteristics (as shape, social rank, manner of existence, or sex) and that determines agreement with and selection of other words or grammatical forms b: membership of a word or a grammatical form in such a subclass c: an inflectional form showing membership in such a subclass


          2 a: sex b: the behavioral, cultural, or psychological traits typically associated with one sex

          Paul Grobstein, a major biologists that has studied the area says: "both "sex" AND "gender" are "social constructs"; so too are both "biology" and "culture" " (source: http://serendip.brynmawr.edu/sci_cult/sexgender04/sexgender04-2.html)
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          Jan 17 2012: In response to: "But really you are not even responding to my arguments. You are simply restating your opinion in a disrespectful manner, either insisting I do not know the 'facts' or labelling my opinion as 'dehumanizing.' As I can not respond in kind by hitting you in the face, I will save both of us the frustration and exit the conversation. Good debate." I've responded to every statement you've made here and presented data from researchers of every field of science. I'd have assumed that someone interested in the concept of TED would be open to the concept of new ideas, data, and research and meaningfully use that information to expand our paradigm of understanding but you prove an exception to that concept.

          Rather than responding in frustration, find data/research/facts to support and validate your arguments. It goes a lot further than simply alluding to phsyical violence or making patronizing comments.
      • Jan 17 2012: Simon,

        It is not I that is ignoring facts but you who is ignoring the argument. I did not enter this conversation trying to define 'gender' or 'sex', or even to identify the gender/sex of the child in question.

        I will, for the sake of argument, accept what you state as 'fact' - that gender is not determined by genetics or reproductive organs. OK. My original objection still remains:

        If the Girl Scouts, or any other group, happens to disagree and have a specific code which identifies who is eligible for inclusion in that group (which is at odds with our shred upon definition) then I affirm their right to abide by it.

        If Bobby was ultimately rejected, and still wanted to be a part of Scouts, he could establish an All Gender Scouts, as I have suggested. He should not resort to forcing his presence on others.

        To summarize - I could give a shit less how your pet psychologists define 'gender' or 'sex.' It is impertinent and not in response to my argument, which you have thoroughly ignored.

        SEP
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          Jan 17 2012: Seth - without data or anything to backup your statements, it's simply just an opinion. And as I mentioend several times, it isn't just psychologisys but every field of science that acknolwedges the fact that gender is a social construct.

          Your statement that "If Bobby was ultimately rejected, and still wanted to be a part of Scouts, he could establish an All Gender Scouts, as I have suggested. He should not resort to forcing his presence on others" is a moot point because she was accepted. She did not force her way into the organization, the Girl Scouts welcomed her in (you can see the press releases and statements that I've linked to in previous responses).
      • Jan 18 2012: Simon,

        "Seth - without data or anything to back up your statements, it's simply opinion."

        Correct - an opinion being what is typically elicited by the question 'What do you think?' Perhaps rather than maintaining your intense concentration on the sexual identity of children, you should refresh yourself on the conversational dynamic.

        Once again - we are engaged in two different debates. You are arguing that any organism which claims to be a girl is a girl. I am arguing that regardless of whether the child is a boy or girl, the group has a right to determine membership. I have even gone so far as to accept your premise (though I disagree with it) in hope that you would address my point - that acceptance is at the discretion of the group.

        As you say, he has been accepted. As I say, his acceptance is far from unanimous. Opinions still differ, even within the group.

        So my opinion/argument is that a group has a right to determine membership. What kind of 'data' would you like to validate it - US case law? The Augusta Golf Club is a good example, but not 'data' in the traditional sense of the word (not that you are concerned with the traditional meaning of words).

        Let's try this. I can simplify it so that obfuscation is nearly impossible.

        A group has a right to determine it's membership. What do you think?

        SEP

        *And, no, determining where the right to membership lies is not a moot point simply because in this case someone was accepted. If it helps, consider the Augusta Golf Club, where the women were ultimately rejected.
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          Jan 18 2012: I already addressed this point - The Girl Scouts welcome her in. There's no issues on that. As mentioned previously, a unanimous decision isn't necessary for that. If the group authorities believe that she's able to join because they also welcome her in as a girl, then she can join. There was no legal obligation there.

          You're stressting the point that just because there is some dissension within the Girl Scouts that Bobby should leave and start The Transgender Scouts. That started a different thread of conversation. However, there's no legal requirement that says people who disagree with that decision have the right tor evoke membership either (and not even with the Girl Scouts' bylaws).
      • Jan 18 2012: Simon,

        I have never said Bobby should leave.

        "IF Bobby were ultimately rejected,... he COULD...as I have SUGGESTED."

        I have not argued that unanimous approval is necessary, only that it is obviously preferable and that it could easily be achieved by creating the suggested All Gender Scouts (and that if you are going to have gender distinctions, it seems logical to stick with the originally intended distinction). And I still don't understand your full throated objection to the notion of a Transgender Scouts. If there is nothing to be ashamed of in the uniqueness of their situation why is it the idea 'dehumanizing'? Are there not already support groups or camps for the transgendered to gather and meet?

        And to the broader point - do you think Augusta Golf Club has the right to exclude female membership?

        SEP

        *also, keep in mind that in the case of determining Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts, how 'gender' is defined is irrelevant. The determining defintion would be of 'girl' and 'boy' or 'female' and 'male', which are both defined by their sexual organs.
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          Jan 18 2012: Seth, there are several other campfire groups that do not use gender as a criteria. For the purposes of this discussion though, we're exmaining the issue with what took place with the Girl Scouts. As such, the Girl Scouts welcome Bobby in as a girl. By all current definitions and determining criteria of gender, Bobby qualifies as a female. I've cited multiple cases from researcherss, anatomy experts, and biologists that demonstrate this (and that gender is not determined by sexual organs). As mentioned previously, there are many exceptions to the "sexual organs" rule which is why determing gender in our society has become much more complex and sophisticated than sexual organs.
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          Jan 18 2012: The University of Minnesota does publish quite a library of books on sexology and gender if you are interested in learning more about this area. Several of them are written by John Money, the foremost and anatomy sexologist of this century - namely "Variations of biological sex: female, male, or intersex? Seven criteria for determining the sex of a human being."

          It would probably help to get up to speed on what is actually happening in the field and argue from that point of view rather than outdated definitons and models. Without having some kind of recognition of these fields of science would be like arguing about the relavance of a globe when one still views the world as flat.
      • Jan 19 2012: Simon,

        "There are several other campfire groups that do not use gender as a criteria.."

        So Bobby could be exposed to all of the positives of Scouts without offending the other members of the Girl Scouts, and the only real reason for pushing his acceptance is to further the political agenda of the LGBT community, not an actual sense of empathy for the child. You are using what is probably the most confusing struggle of his life to your political advantage. If my opinion is 'dehumanizing,' you are actions are 'exploitative.'

        "..quite a library of books on sexology and gender if you are interested."

        Once again, 'gender' is not the relevant term or issue. Girl Scouts would be determined (by simple grammatical qualification) by the definition of 'girl,' not 'gender.' A 'girl' is a young 'female,' and a 'female' is defined by ovulation and the possession of ovaries and a uterus.

        But this is, once again, irrelevant to my argument. My reason for entering the conversation was to establish where the right to membership lies and to point out that forcing yourself on an unwilling group is counter-productive, NOT to define 'gender' or to establish the gender of the child.

        As I said before, your exploitation of the child's situation for your own (admitted) ideological reasons is evident. You are hardly a disinterested party, and therefore any type of dissent is met with cries of 'dehumanization' or ignorance (or an ignoring of the line of argument altogether), which is pretty much par for the course as far as the LGBT community goes. If conflict was not the ultimate goal, he would simply have enrolled in a campfire group not defined by gender distinction

        SEP
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          Jan 19 2012: I'd have to disgaree with this sentiment again (which again, contains no references or sources):

          "So Bobby could be exposed to all of the positives of Scouts without offending the other members of the Girl Scouts" - Not true, I think her acceptance highlighted some of the best values put forth by the Girl Scouts, as they proudly announced (linked in another press release listed above). There was no agenda, just acceptance.

          " A 'girl' is a young 'female,' and a 'female' is defined by ovulation and the possession of ovaries and a uterus." - You're discounting intersex individuals, individuals who are born without the ability to ovulate, and others. You're only speaking of gonadal sex, which isn't a determing factor of gender (the only prerequisite of the Girl Scouts).

          Besides, even in Biology sex is determined by chromosomes, hormones, psyche, and external and internal genitalia (see Medical Dictionary).

          and in regards to "As I said before, your exploitation of the child's situation for your own (admitted) ideological reasons is evident. You are hardly a disinterested party" - I think you're displaying too much paranoia and discomfort over the issue, especially when you refuse to look at the actual science behind it all. There's no agenda at play here, I simply stated that I think this small issue is indictative of a greater discussion in society and that I recognize and support The Girl Scouts' decision. I'm not exploiting Bobby's situation, I'm supportive of it.

          If anything, you're just displaying a distinct "anti LGBT" agenda who is afraid to look at this from any other point of view other than your own...and that you'd like to challenge The Girl Scouts' decision over a disgruntled minority than respect the organizations own rightful decision. No one forced them, it was a willful intention to admit Bobby.
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          Jan 19 2012: Also, in another update, the Girl Scouts council stated: "GSCCC is aware that a girl member has posted an online video calling for a boycott of the cookie sale because she takes exception to a position stated by the Girl Scout organization related to inclusiveness. The opinions in the video, or any other information and opinions posted by users, do not represent the council, or Girl Scouting in general. Girl Scouting is open to all girls and adults who subscribe to the Promise and Law."

          YouTube also removed the protesting Girl Scout's video, citing hate speech "“We encourage free speech and defend everyone’s right to express unpopular points of view. But we don’t permit hate speech (speech which attacks or demeans a group based on race or ethnic origin, religion, disability, gender, age, veteran status, and sexual orientation/gender identity).”
      • Jan 19 2012: 'You are trying to challenge..."

        No, Simon. I have steadfastly maintained that all groups have the right to accept (or reject) anyone for any reason they see fit (so long as it is a private group).

        I have suggested that the conflict arising from his acceptance could be alleviated by him joining a group that is not defined by gender distinction, or he could even create a similar group specifically for the transgendered. That such a suggestion is labeled as 'dehumanizing' and that the feelings of those who object to Bobby's acceptance are ignored by you seem to indicate that it is YOU who is incapable of seeing this from anyone else's perspective, other than your own. Your response to those offended is, Get over it.

        "You are discounting intersex individuals.."

        No, simply acknowledging that 'intersex' would be a better description than 'female' if we describing such an individual.

        SEP
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          Jan 19 2012: I still maintain that it is dehumanizing; it's defined as:

          "1) make somebody less human: to make somebody less human by taking away his or her individuality, the creative and interesting aspects of his or her personality, or his or her compassion and sensitivity toward others" (src: Encarta World English Dictionary)

          ...which is what the situation wuld be doing (disregarding Bobby's gender).
      • Jan 19 2012: Simon,

        'I recognize and support the Girl Scouts decision."

        Well said.

        I recognize the Girl Scouts decision, but also feel for those parents who joined the group under the pretense that 'girl' would be viewed in its traditional meaning and are uncomfortable with Bobby's situation and their child's proximity to it. I have suggested a compromise.

        Good debate.

        SEP
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          Jan 19 2012: None of the members of Bobby's troop objected to her joining and the decision didn't do anything to change the dynamics of other chapters of the organization. The parents aren't upset by this pretense of the definition of membership; the ones that are upset are unhappy because they feel that the organization is in support of LGBTQ causes (as stated in the protest video which has since been removed).

          In a news release: "At first, a troop leader told Bobby's mother that Bobby couldn't join Girl Scouts. However, the organization decided that if a child identifies as a girl and the child's family presents her as a girl, Girl Scouts of Colorado will welcome her as a Girl Scout.

          According to Amanda Kalina, spokesperson for the Girl Scouts of Colorado, Bobby never joined a local Girl Scout troop after that ruling. Kalina says the Girl Scouts of Colorado "left the door open for conversation," as they are an "inclusive organization." They have handled transgender member cases before, but say they are very rare. They still refer to themselves as a "girl-serving organization" and that the situation "so far received a very positive response.""

          src: http://www.9news.com/news/article/241853/188/Girl-Scouts-responds-to-call-for-cookie-boycott-
  • Jan 12 2012: My immediate question is why are there even gender selected groups in the first place. (girl scouts - boy scouts).

    Afterall, the scouts in question study in the same school classes without any gender distinction, probably because for the age groups involved --There isn't any actual skill being acquired that isn't viable for the other gender. So it just seems like the problem in question is just the symptom of an idea that makes little sense to begin with.
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      Jan 12 2012: I believe that groups are created out of gender, religious or political beliefs, age, race or interests to help create some sort of solidarity for those involved (girl power!). As soon as someone creates a group based on this kind of idea, it automatically excludes someone else but that isn't necessarily always a bad thing. Some people feel more comfortable or at ease when they're only around certain genders, beliefs, cultures, etc. (just look at the types of clubs on any school campus).

      I've never been a girl scout so I can't speak to what kind of activties or skills they teach and if they are gender specific or not but I do know that many of the scouts feel like they get some kind of value out of the experience. But thoughts aside about whether these kind of groups should exist or not (because they do), it's these situations that predicate some better explanation of the mission/values they claim to represent. Can scouts be kicked out for not following the rules of playing nicely? Can admission be denied because someone is "less" of a girl than someone else?
      • Jan 12 2012: 'Some people feel more comfortable or at ease when they're only around certain genders, beliefs, cultures, etc. '
        Ah, But cause or result?
        For example, within my local area there are two individual schools, one for muslims and one for sikhs, both beginning at an early age and that exact conclusion tends to be made by its students in my local area (The muslims are just more comfortable around those who uphold their own positions).
        However I went to a school where everyone was mixed and such issues never arose (atleast to me observations). So I have to wonder if such separations pander to the positions or whether they infact cause them.
        But anyway, as you said, they exist, so this aspect doesn't really matter so much..



        'Can admission be denied because someone is "less" of a girl than someone else?'

        It appears to be based on an arbitrary line that determines that, kind of like the point I made about the gender determined groups.

        As a progressive I can say that he/she (which ever gender the child prefers to conform to) should be allowed to join which ever group that fits that position.
        But if we're going simply by observable biology (sexual organs) then there are arguments (although entirely convoluted and biased) that can be made against he/she joining the group, atleast for the childs current age.

        So for all conclusive purposes, I stand with the former, it IS right that the child was allowed to join the girl scouts, in my opinion.
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          Jan 12 2012: I agree, they should be allowed in. If they're concerned about safety (as the girl petitioning claims), there is far more discrmination and physical harm done to transgender persons than nearly any other group in the U.S. If they're concerned about issues pertaining to sexuality, the Girl Scouts don't draw the line with sexual orientation.

          I think allowing Bobby in sends a far more important message on the value acceptance and tolerance than accomodating someone else's insecurities about the issue.
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        Jan 16 2012: Are you suggesting that a penis should be the sole determining factor when it comes to gender? What about hermaphrodites? What about people who are a-sexual?

        Biologists, psychologists, and sociologists all agree that "gender" is far more than simply what set of sexual organs a child has been born with. In fact, most scientific approaches now see gender as a social construct, not something that is clear-cut or inherent in our nature. Sex and gender researched John Money stated: "In popularized and scientifically debased usage, sex is what you are biologically; gender is what you become socially; gender identity is your own sense or conviction of maleness or femaleness; and gender role is the cultural stereotype of what is masculine and feminine. "
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        Jan 16 2012: Bridget, try this TEDtalk from Alice Dreger: http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/en/alice_dreger_is_anatomy_destiny.html

        The TED description: "Alice Dreger works with people at the edge of anatomy, such as conjoined twins and intersexed people. In her observation, it's often a fuzzy line between male and female, among other anatomical distinctions. Which brings up a huge question: Why do we let our anatomy determine our fate?"
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    Jan 23 2012: at Seth Bridget et al.

    My name is Russ and I am a Campfire Girl, I'm not gay transgendered or anything and the issue of adapting me to Campfire and Campfire to me was dealt with easily some 35 years ago.

    They just added a boys tent made sure there were male chaperon's(there actually already were husbands who helped out) and changed the uniform for me.

    I have posted this fact before and it has been glossed over by those opposed to this trans gender boys involvement in girl scouts.

    Let me assure you that as a young heterosexual male I was far more interested in the other Campfire Girls that a trans gender boy to girl is likely to be.

    I don't understand why my personal experience as a boy in a girls camping organization is not of any relevance to you.

    It seems to me if your issue is with a biologically male person being mixed with the girls then my situation is Germain.

    What if it was a girl who was trans gender towards being a man? what would your position on the issue be?

    No problem because despite her(his) urges he(she) has no penis?

    Its not that its a boy is it?

    Its that its a transsexual, and you don't like the idea of them around other kids no matter their sex or orientation.

    Please if that's not the case explain why my history is not enough to reassure you that its easy to make an organization biologically gender mixed with out creating potentially harmful situations, and in the case of this boy a chance to be with the "other" girls might benefit them all in mutual understanding and acceptance of others in later life.

    Of course as a Campfire Girl I know my organization is far superior to Girl Scouts, but I am amazed its that superior.
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    Jan 19 2012: Another major update:

    Due to the video posted by Taylor and hates peech directed towards Bobby Montoya, she has since indicated that she was no longer interested in becoming a Girl Scout. The Girl Scouts International continue to assert that their policy always has been and always will be " "f a child identifies as a girl and the child's family presents her as a girl, Girl Scouts of Colorado welcomes her as a Girl Scout," said the Colorado Girl Scouts, in a statement to a CNN affiliate."

    Originally, Bobby was denied by a troop leader who was atrributed with "the initial decision to exclude the child on ignorance of the Scouts' policy."

    (src: http://www.windycitymediagroup.com/gay/lesbian/news/ARTICLE.php?AID=35682)

    The Girl Scouts USA will be celebrating their 100 Year Anniversary and say that support is stronger than ever, with the decision to defend the inclusion of transgenders (http://austin.culturemap.com/newsdetail/01-16-12-17-42-real-life-redfeathers-girl-scout-cookies-return-amidst-a-flurry-of-controversy/)
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    Jan 19 2012: Hi everyone, I know there's still a week out left on this but just wanted to thank everyone that's participated in this discussion so far. It's caused me to think more deeply about this issue (and gender identity) more than I ever have before and look into the actual research about it. I'm a new user to this system and have been really enjoying this process.

    For me at least, this is what TED's all about: questioning your own beliefs to learn more about the why/how we think, learning other perspectives, and exploring new ideas. Thanks for participating and enriching this discussion!
  • Jan 19 2012: Simply because someone has a few chromosomes of the opposite gender or acts more feminine or masculine than others does not mean they are of the opposite gender. One might want to think like the opposite gender, but it is controllable just as my thoughts of lust are. Some may be more likely to be transgender b/c of biological or social influences but it does not mean they have to. There are only two genders - male and female - and those who argue they have an extra chromosome or have another body part were made that way because of a genetic defect (emphasis on 'defect') and are one set gender.
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      Jan 19 2012: What're you basing this assumption on? I think you're confusing the definition/idea of "sex" and "gender."Biology nor social sciences certainly don't support this notion. In fact, in several cultures around the world, humans can be recognized as one of several genders (for example, The Hijra of India).

      Dr. A.H Drevor wrote extensively on this stating that "We have been very slow to generalize this concept to our understandings of gender, sex, and sexuality. We tend to continue to think of people whose genders, sexes, or sexualities are unusual as "mistakes" of either nature or of nurture. Our dogged insistence on thinking in terms of binary categorizations of male/female, man/woman, heterosexual/homosexual, either/or, right/wrong, serves to blinker our vision. It is time that we begin to recognize that there are far more "mistakes of society" than there are "mistakes of nature," and to begin to retool ourselves for the job of coming to see, appreciate, and understand the value of human gender sex, and sexual diversity."(source: http://web.uvic.ca/~ahdevor/HowMany/HowMany.html)
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    Jan 17 2012: I apoplogize for the double comment; I'm new to the TED system and wasn't sure if you were reading the entire trhead ot simply replying to one comment at a time (especially since several of the points were left unaddressed).

    First of all, you state: "By 'some people's' you mean the 'traditionally accepted' definition of gender - based on genetics and genitalia (as evidence of said genetics)." Can you point out any current research that proves genetilia determines gender? All of the most respected institutions on biology, anatomy, and gender state otherwise: The Kinsey Institute, The Clayman Institute for Gender Research at Stanford, Center for Gender Research and Sexuality at SFSU, etc.).

    Second, using "traditional" defintions don't justify discrimination. People have used the same terms for discriminating against others for race (for instance, initial arguments against have people of color join the military) and excluding others for the same reason. Traditions and definitions change, especially when new research is discovered (such as intersexed anatomy).

    This isn't about the LGBTQ Agenda as you claim, it is about compassion and decency, Even several major denomiations of the Christian church have embraced working with transgenders and respecting that (several transgender pastors), see Feb '08 in Christianity Today).

    Additionally, unaimous acceptance isn't required; the organization made the decision. It was not unaimous to reject or accept Bobbi, just as many decisions in the Scouts have not been in a unanimous manner. The solution is to allow the people who have problems to leave, as some already have.
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    Jan 17 2012: I was one of the first two male campfire girls.

    I am not transgendered ,gay, or anything but a human. The only thing that was required to make me and my friend Matt's situation acceptable was male chaperons in addition to the female ones. Of course we had a separate tent, and used showers and bathrooms or changing rooms separately.
    I fail to see how the issue could be more complicated for a boy who is mentally or emotionally a girl. I think that the worst case scenario is that the trans gender child might feel even more outcast and alone when its organizations like scouting and campfire that can best combat the bias and prejudices that manifest as hate crimes in latter life.

    I am proud to say I was a Campfire Girl, of course in part because of me they are simply called Campfire and are open to everyone. I tip my hat to the Fairfeild County Campfire administration Mrs Jackson especially and I will close with a heartfelt Wooo Heee Loooo
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    Jan 16 2012: This video, "An Open Letter to the Transphobic Girl Scout," discusses a lot of the misunderstandings that people have when it comes to transgender persons: http://jezebel.com/5875957/an-open-letter-to-the-transphobic-girl-scout

    It's worth a listen with open heart and mind. Some of the key text to be highlighted:

    "Transgender stuff can be confusing. Believe me, I know. But you got a few things wrong in your video, and I'd like to help correct them. I think it would make your video more honest and fair. Lets start with one of your video overlays. It's near the beginning, and the text on your video said "Transgender Girl Scout = boy who wants to be a girl."

    I'm afraid that's not what it means to be transgender. The simplest way to put it, although it's really more complicated, is that our gender –- what makes us a boy or a girl –- is in our head, not between our legs. You aren't a girl because of what's between your legs. Neither am I. You're a girl because you know you are one. That would be true if you had long hair or short, wore pants or dresses, painted your nails or played in the mud. Or did some of those things one day, and something else on another.

    Likewise, I'm a girl because I know I am one. It's a little more complicated for me, since what is between my legs doesn't match what most people expect when they think ‘girl.' But part of being respectful of others –- something else the Girl Scout Law mentions –- is letting every person decide for themselves who they are. I would never say that you need to enjoy playing with dolls, or be good at basketball, or know how to sail a boat. I don't get to decide who you are; you get to decide that.

    But that also means that you don't get to decide who I am. What kind of books I like to read, who my friends are, or whether I'm a boy or a girl. No matter what I look like or sound like or anything. No one but me gets to decide whether I'm a boy or a girl."
    • Jan 17 2012: By this reasoning, you are saying we are what we think, therefore, if I think and truly believe I am a frog, then everyone should accept me as a frog and treat me as such. Or, perhaps, in a more realistic manner, if I believe I am a sexual beast, then I am such, and should be allowed to perform unmentionable sexual acts whenever and wherever I want.

      We are what we are, not what we think. You can't deny science and say, "I'm a girl" when you clearly have been born a boy.
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        Jan 17 2012: Javier, that kind of reasoning is a non-sequitor. First of all, biologically, many human beings are not "clearly" a boy or a girl. Many people have chromosome of both sexes (a great TED presentation by Alice Dredger, "Is Anatomy Destiny?" explains the concept of intersexed persons). Additionally, gender is a social construct. Biologists, psychologists, and sociologists all acknowledge this fact.

        One can't simply think themselves into being a frog because we don't have the biological makeup of a frog. However, transgender persons often have the physical and/or emotional makeup of both sexes. Some people simply not not connect with their biological sex. Besides, gender and sex are not one and the same (the other comments I posted provide links to other researchers and articles on this).

        Furthermore, there is vast difference between someone who is intersexed or transgender and a "sexual beast" who performs "unmentionable sexual acts whenever and wherever" they want as you mention. Talk about a non-sequitor...there is no morality attached to the idea of having a different biological make up. That kind of argument is ignorant, discriminatory, and perpetuates the kind of thinking that devalues human beings.
        • Jan 19 2012: I accidentally posted this at the top instead of making a reply...

          Simply because someone has a few chromosomes of the opposite gender or acts more feminine or masculine than others does not mean they are of the opposite gender. One might want to think like the opposite gender, but it is controllable just as my thoughts of lust are. Some may be more likely to be transgender b/c of biological or social influences but it does not mean they have to. There are only two genders - male and female - and those who argue they have an extra chromosome or have another body part were made that way because of a genetic defect (emphasis on 'defect') and are one set gender.
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    Jan 16 2012: From gladd.org:

    "Following the story of a child who was denied enrollment in a local Girl Scout troop despite identifying as a girl, the Girl Scouts of Colorado released a statement saying that the associate responsible for that troop was unaware of the organization’s policy. “Girl Scouts is an inclusive organization and we accept all girls in Kindergarten through 12th grade as members,” the statement says. “If a child identifies as a girl and the child's family presents her as a girl, Girl Scouts of Colorado welcomes her as a Girl Scout.” Girl Scouts of Colorado also asserted that it is reaching out to the family of the excluded child and will be altering its training programs so that all girls are supported.

    Corey Barrett of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender (GLBT) Community Center of Colorado commented on the matter, saying that as children explore their gender identity and expression, “I think it's all about providing a healthy environment for them for that to happen. Everyone needs to be prepared or at least have an idea from a policy and procedure stand point how they're going to address that.” According to their statement, Girl Scouts of Colorado is committed to providing that environment. “Our requests for support of transgender kids have grown, and Girl Scouts of Colorado is working to best support these children, their families and the volunteers who serve them.”"

    (http://www.glaad.org/blog/girl-scouts-colorado-released-statement-welcoming-transgender-youth)
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    Jan 16 2012: I have a cousin that's transgender. And if the child truly identifies with that gender, I see no reason to penalize them for their biology.
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        Jan 16 2012: I think you presume the gender someone is rests solely on their sexual organs, when there is plenty of scientific evidence to the contrary.

        It strikes me as unfortunately common that it is not a child's first inclination to discriminate against someone on account of their genitals, but it is an adult's.

        Honestly, when you say girl with a penis, you seem to think that she will be flaunting her penis in people's faces. You seem to imply that her gender will be a constant threat to her fellow girl scouts as opposed to the real reason for your animosity. The fact that you are uncomfortable with it, for reasons that you have every reason to believe, but not every right to express as it interferes with the rights of others.

        Simply because it makes you uncomfortable is not enough, the fact that it could "hypothetically," make others uncomfortable is not enough. The fact of the matter is the Girl Scout Mission is to build girls of courage, confidence, and character who make the world a better place, then we must build girls of courage to accept those who share this common goal, the confidence to not let divisive points of view undermine this belief, and to instill a character that does not discriminate against others simply because of a biological incongruity.
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          Jan 16 2012: Saying someone is only a male because of a penis (or female for lack of one) is limited, discriminatory, and sexist. There are many body types beyond yes/no penis. What about intersexed individuals? Or hermaphrodites? Or adrenal hyperplasia (a male with a penis on the outside but uterus and ovaries on the inside, who also menstrates)?
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        Jan 17 2012: How are Girl Scouts subjected to each others Vagina's? I would hope that they are not. What does it matter what the sex organs are if appropriate behavior requires them to be kept covered? I assume appropriate behavior is maintained by chaperons? I really don't think its as hard as you think to keep the behavior of children in the bounds of propriety, certainly not if they are good scouts. Of course I was a Campfire Girl and so I might expect a higher moral standard all I can say is I never waved my penis(yes I am male ) in anyone's face ever.