Want to meet someone inspiring? We’d like to introduce you to Charlie Lowthian-Rickert. As a first-year Girl Guide, she’s had the chance to explore and speak out about the issues she cares about while making a difference in her community. Charlie, who was born as a male but identifies as female, has not only found a place to be herself by joining Girl Guides, but is also working with girls and Guiders in her unit to ensure that Guiding is an inclusive, judgement-free zone. This past weekend, Charlie served as the Grand Marshal of the Ottawa Pride Parade in recognition of her efforts to bring attention to trans rights.
Charlie’s participation in Guiding all started with our Guidelines for the Inclusion of Transgender Members, introduced in 2015 to ensure that we support all girls’ participation. “We heard on the news that GGC made a new policy to accept transgender and gender variant girls, and we were looking for something for Charlie to round out her activities and provide learning opportunities for her active mind,” explained her mother, Anne.
Guiding has provided an environment for Charlie to learn and explore. She loves to camp and participate in the endless variety of activities, and, she says, “I really like the engineering projects.”
Her mom has also observed the fun that Charlie is having with her peers. “Making friends has made the biggest difference,” said Anne. “For her to be welcomed among other girls, and validated as she is, is a transformative thing. Girls have all different kinds of bodies, but their brains and brawn are so much more important than how they look.”
Participating in community events like Pride and media interviews to draw attention to trans rights, Charlie has been inspired by the Guiding program to speak out and learn about challenges facing girls around the world. “We learn stuff about Guides in other places, and human rights issues, so that makes me feel good that I am doing something to make things better for everyone,” said Charlie.
Asked how Guiding has supported her daughter, Anne did not hesitate to share that Guiding is a “safe and judgement-free place” for Charlie. This year, their family is looking forward to providing “learning opportunities at her unit to talk about gender diversity and dispel some myths.” With supportive Guiders, Sumac and Cricket, who “have been really open to discussing challenges with us,” Guiding has been a great choice for this family.
As she prepared for Ottawa Pride, Charlie said it would be “really amazing to be at the front of the parade” and that it encourages her to “want to keep on reaching out to others” as she makes the world a better place. Charlie also mentioned how much she loved “singing songs the whole way” at last year’s parade – which sounds a lot like Girl Guides, too!
Guest post by Diamond Isinger. Diamond is an Ottawa Guider, keen camper (bringing girls to Guiding Mosaic 2016 in Alberta and serving as core staff at a BC camp this summer!), and communicator. Recently transplanted from Vancouver, she previously served as West Coast Area Commissioner and PR Advisor , sharing stories of girl greatness.