To celebrate LGBT History Month, Deanna, an Explorer Scout Leader from Hampshire, tells us about her experiences as a transgender person in Scouting:
At around 13, I became aware of some gender confusion in my life and started feeling like I should have been born female instead of male. I kept this to myself as I had no idea why, or if anyone else had similar thoughts. The first time I started properly accepting my gender issues was at the age of 18 in 2000. The internet helped me to find out that there were other people in similar situations.
In 2008, I started living and socialising part of the time as female and the year after I began to live full-time as a female, with the name Deanna.
Scouting was a big part of my life and was the biggest thing holding me back from transitioning to living as a woman earlier. I didn't know what the reaction would be from leaders or other members. Thankfully, it turned out to be a non-event for everyone else.
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 should let the Explorer Scouts know. We decided on a straightforward letter explaining Gender Identity Disorder and stating 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.
Since then I have become involved in FLAGS, the Scout Active Support Unit which supports lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) adults in Scouting. Through FLAGS Iíve helped to inform policy and procedures and represented Scouting at Pride in London.
I am also training to provide support through the diversity and inclusion teams at the County and national level (Specialist Advisers for Inclusion and Diversity), to raise awareness of equality of all forms, and to dispel myths around LGBT members in Scouting.
A big part of transgender support is acceptance, support and being treated as every other person in your identified gender. It's worth bearing in mind that not everyone identifies as one gender or the other, and there are people that are quite 'fluid' in their gender and may change over time or be somewhere in the middle.