Cookies & the Gender Conversation

We’re going to double our Girl Scout cookie order next year.

No, really: At the Young Democrats of Washington’s Women’s Caucus, we have never wondered whether a woman who was not born with women’s sex organs had a place in our organization.

Neither has Girl Scouts of the United States. GSUSA has never wavered in its policy of accepting all girls, no matter their biological sex, and we are so proud that the Western Washington chapter, which includes King, Whatcom, Clallam, Island, Pierce, Skagit and Grays Harbor counties, is committed to helping all girls and young women.

They’re so committed to it that they turned down a $100,000 donation when it came with a stipulation that it not be used to support transgender girls.

LGBTQA+ issues have been in the news a lot lately. Last week, the Supreme Court had a historic ruling to legalize gay marriage (we like to call that ‘marriage’) across all 50 states, and all three of its women justices voted ‘Yes.’

Transgender Girl Scouts

In June, Caitlyn Jenner graced the cover of Vanity Fair magazine and opened up about her own transition and personal identity.

All of this has been a transition: From domestic partnerships to true equality in marriage, and from gender identity secrets to magazine covers. Change takes time, and change takes leadership and faces we know — faces like Ms. Jenner, who identifies as a woman, and so she is a woman, whatever her biological sex may have been at birth.

It’s not easy to talk about transgender issues. Not because of the transgender population, but simply because the language isn’t there yet: The concepts aren’t consistent; the constructs are irregular; the word choices themselves vary as much as the people they describe (they describe all of us, by the way). The Associated Press Stylebook, considered the Bible of the media set, didn’t have consistent rules about gender until the late 2000s, and even now media organizations struggle with how to identify people. The media wants to get it right, and they, like the rest of us, want to use the best and most accurate words — but some of those words just aren’t on the books yet.

We expect they will be soon. Understanding the realities of transgender is part of that, and our hope is that Ms. Jenner’s new reality show, ‘I am Cait,’ which premiers July 26, will help tell the real story of gender identity, as experienced by a familiar face in U.S. media for more than 30 years. Her cover, and news of the show, has opened a flood of conversations about gender identity, which will be as ongoing and dynamic as the conversations about marriage. We also hope they are as productive.

Gender identity embodies who we are, whether we identify as man, woman, or even something different. In the media, in the census, in standardized test forms, it’s such a new concept that no consistent definition exists. It will soon, and we hope Ms. Jenner’s story shines a light not only on her journey, but on the stories of the roughly 700,000 other transgender adults in the U.S.. We hope this is beginning of a conversation about gender identity, and about how gender identity can differ based on race, religion, and cultural backgrounds.

In our view, a woman is someone who identifies as a woman, full stop. We don’t ask to verify (unlike Fifa); we don’t ask for proof. If you want to join us, by all means, we’d love to have you. The same goes for men. We’re interested in how you identify, not the skin you were born in.

With that said, can we get some more Girl Scout cookies?

This post was brought to you by Women’s Caucus member Amy Veneziano.

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