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Sep 07 2015

The Story of a Female Eagle Scout

I am sorry it has been so long since I have written. Many things have happened since I last wrote – I also intend my writing to be a little more nebular, bigger concepts, instead of just a day to do diary. The busiest thing I did that took multiple weekends of writing time was that I moved from my hometown to a suburb farther west in Illinois. It is still ‘Chicago-land’ but it is far enough away that the city I live in is a ‘city’ not a village. The most important thing that happened, in the context of this blog, is that my 6mo. anniversary of HRT has passed. Other things I did included a trip to Baltimore to see family I have not seen in three years.

Facebook-20150907-081907The first topic I want to take on is the idea of me being a Female Eagle Scout. One of my happiest possessions is my car. On that car is one of my proudest possessions. That proudest possession says “1289EG” it is my license plate. It also says “Eagle Scout.”

At the beginning of my transition, I thought deeply about the idea that to be a woman means that people may wish to kick me out of one of the most exclusive clubs in the world. I was a boy scout in my teenage years as a male; no surprise, they do not let in girls. In addition, I achieved the rank of Eagle Scout, which is the highest rank and requires much work. Most do not achieve it; in fact, the current number is just over two percent. In fact, two million two hundred and nine thousand (2,209,000) Scouts had earned Eagle Scout by the end of 2012; out of eighty three million four hundred six thousand eighty three (83,486,083) Scouts since 1911; this was just over two percent of the Boy Scouting membership.

I presume a great deal of members would have me kicked out as I am transitioning from male to female. I am no longer a man, therefore I am no longer a boy scout, and therefore I am no longer an Eagle. The Boy Scouts also do not currently accept transgender boys. When I go to change my name and gender on my records with the BSA, the BSA may revoke the honor entirely. However, many people out there claim “Once an Eagle always an Eagle.” Eagle Scouts should never say, “I was an eagle scout.” They should always should say, “I am an Eagle Scout.” I know I will always say that, regardless of what the BSA thinks.

I have completed the requirements and they are things that will last forever. They are things that bettered me as a person and things that I am proud of accomplishing. Among other things I know how to save lives (on land and on water) I know how the government works and be a responsible member of the people it strives to support and I can be proud of myself. Being an eagle scout is the proudest thing I have from my life pre-transition. Originally my parents somewhat forced me to do it. I did not want to be a boy scout. However, over time, I grew to love it and today I am thankful they ‘encouraged’ me to get and stay involved. Here are the requirements as listed by the Boy Scouts of America website.

Be active in your troop, team, crew, or ship for a period of at least six months after you have achieved the rank of Life Scout.

Demonstrate that you live by the principles of the Scout Oath and Scout Law in your daily life. List on your Eagle Scout Rank Application the names of individuals who know you personally and would be willing to provide a recommendation on your behalf, including parents/guardians, religious, educational, and employer references.

Earn a total of 21 merit badges (10 more than you already have), including the following: (the ones in bold I completed)

  • First Aid
  • Citizenship in the Community
  • Citizenship in the Nation
  • Citizenship in the World
  • Communication
  • Cooking
  • Personal Fitness
  • Emergency Preparedness OR Lifesaving (I did do both, one by choice)
  • Environmental Science OR Sustainability
  • Personal Management
  • Swimming OR Hiking OR Cycling
  • Camping
  • Family Life

While a Life Scout, serve actively in your unit for a period of six months in one or more of the following positions of responsibility. List only those positions served after your Life board of review date. (I have bolded the roles I played in my troop)

  • Boy Scout troop:
    • Patrol leader, assistant senior patrol leader, senior patrol leader, Venture patrol leader, troop guide, Order of the Arrow troop representative, den chief, scribe, librarian, historian, quartermaster, junior assistant Scoutmaster, chaplain aide, instructor, webmaster, or Leave No Trace trainer
  • Varsity Scout team:
    • Captain, cocaptain, program manager, squad leader, team secretary, Order of the Arrow team representative, librarian, historian, quartermaster, chaplain aide, instructor, den chief, webmaster, or Leave No Trace trainer
  • Venturing crew/ship:
    • President, vice president, secretary, treasurer, quartermaster, historian, den chief, guide, boatswain, boatswain’s mate, yeoman, purser, storekeeper, webmaster, or Leave No Trace trainer
  • Lone Scout:
    • Leadership responsibility in his school, religious organization, club, or elsewhere in his community

While a Life Scout, plan, develop, and give leadership to others in a service project helpful to any religious institution, any school, or your community. (The project must benefit an organization other than Boy Scouting.) A project proposal must be approved by the organization benefiting from the effort, your unit leader and unit committee, and the council or district before you start. You must use the Eagle Scout Service Project Workbook, BSA publication No. 512-927, in meeting this requirement. (To learn more about the Eagle Scout service project, see the Guide to Advancement, topics 9.0.2.0 through 9.0.2.15.)

Take part in a unit leader conference.

Successfully complete an Eagle Scout board of review. In preparation for your board of review, prepare and attach to your Eagle Scout Rank Application a statement of your ambitions and life purpose and a listing of positions held in your religious institution, school, camp, community, or other organizations, during which you demonstrated leadership skills. Include honors and awards received during this service.

A eagle scout takes an oath, that oath demands that you live twelve rules for the rest of your life. Until you are an eagle scout, these rules are not required. However, as an eagle scout you must obey them. They are twelve rules for living, twelve commandments. Those commandments are the Scout Law. Here is the oath:

On my honor, I will do my best To do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law; To help other people at all times; To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight.

Here is the scout Law:

A scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent.

I struggled for many years in boy scouts to live these things, and live them truthfully. How could I do that as a boy and as a man? Back then, I had to make specific exemptions in my mind to make it work. Today that is no longer a problem. I can honestly say, I am more of an Eagle Scout now as a female then I ever was as a male. The Boy Scout oath and Boy Scout law both gave very little room for interpretation. In addition, the language is very strong. “A scout is…” is very different from “A scout tries to be…” You cannot just try to do your best. Either you fail or you succeed. As Yoda said: “Do, or do not, there is no try.” This applies to the scout law mistakes mean failure. I had to manipulate the meaning of these words in certain ways to make sure that I still succeeded enough to become an Eagle. It was the story of a series of lies to get an honor that I do not think Joe ever deserved, but Jo clearly does.

The first thing I had to realize is that at no point does the Boy Scout Oath or Boy Scout Law mention anything about honesty. I used that to be able to lie. I was able to fake what people believed of me. I mutated the meaning of trustworthy. I never considered myself trustworthy but I made other people think I was. I was loyal to everyone around me, but not my own heart. I was loyal to my lies. I did my best to be helpful and help everyone I could around me, but I never helped myself. ‘I’ was friendly, to everyone except myself. I was obedient to my lies and to the rules placed on me by society. I was kind, again to everyone but me. Thrifty was easy, reverent was easy. Those were simple things to fake. Clean was easy to be honestly. Brave and cheerful were tough. I was not brave, but I was able to cover it up. I found a way to avoid tasks I could not take on though lies deceit and general avoidance tactics. Cheerful, Cheerful was the one I had the rule I had the most trouble with. How could I be cheerful when I was lying about whom I was? Faking happiness is so hard. I struggled with this particular part of the scout law the most. I muted all my emotions and hid them. My logic was if I showed no sadness, or anger, it would be ‘normal’ for me to show no happiness or cheerfulness. It worked. My ‘scout law’ was complete.

From there I bided my time, learned skills, and became an Eagle Scout. I felt bad, because in some ways it felt like I was cheating the system and did not really deserve the honor. Yet everyone else around me thought I deserved it. Therefore, I received it. I promised myself someday I would be worthy of the honor I received. I would be worthy of the things that it carried with it. I feel that, finally, now, I am.

I can finally be honest about who I am. I feel like I can finally trust myself. I have stopped lying even though I do not technically need to for the requirements. To me being trustworthy contains honesty. I can finally be loyal to my own heart and belief at the same time I can do my best to be loyal to all those around me. It is easier for me now to be cheerful, that makes me more friendly, kind, and happy in general. These all seem to go together. As I found myself completing one they all just seemed so easy. It all started… with being honest. I have stopped being reverent to my lies and instead being reverent to my emotions, heart, and religion. With the fight I have fought, many people have called me brave; I still do not see it that way. However, I am willing to accept the compliment and add it to the list. For me, I am finally living my life, the life of a Female Eagle Scout.

I feel like I finally feel alive. I feel like I could take on the world, and have. I have told the entire world that I am a woman, my morals and goals and rules to live by are that of an Eagle Scout. I am without a doubt, a Female Eagle Scout. I feel ready, and yet unprepared, to take on the BSA. I have changed myself, and the world around me. However, at this point, the world is not enough.

About the author

Josie

I’ve never been good at writing about myself. I’ve never been good at ‘talking up my strengths’ but at least I should try…

I am a 30 year old (gasp), woman. To me, it is just that simple. My life is slowly coming together into a form where I can be proud to call it my life.

Who am I? I’m a strong, loving woman that was assigned male at birth and is finally correcting that egregious error by biology. For most women if they have an urge like wearing a sundress, they just do it. For my first 29 years on this planet, that wasn’t a possibility.

I write to heal, then publish to inform. I hope my journey can make the journeys of people that come after me just a little less painful.

I also have a ‘day job’ as a Data Center Technician. I do an incredibly physical job lifting fixing and moving servers. I daily, walk into and then maintain ‘the cloud.’ Servers are still quite a bit larger and heavier than your desktop at home. So much so that I am the only woman on my team of 20 and one of 5 in the entire building of about 75. Technology is without a doubt a male dominated industry. Which makes me quite sad.

I wish I could better express who I am. I don’t feel like I’ve done justice to my history, my life, and my story, but for now, this will have to do. To me the most beautiful thing in the world is understanding and empathy. If we can have only one thing for each other person on this planet, I choose empathy.

8 comments

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  1. Marcy Browning

    I love the reflection on this and the confidence you show in yourself.

  2. Donna Joanne

    Dear Jo,
    You are not alone. I too am a Female Eagle Scout and a Vigil Honor Member of the Order of the Arrow. I received my Eagle in 1976, and have completed 5 years of HRT and just finished TOTALLY transitioning legally to female this week. I too have struggled with how the BSA will react when I contact them to correct my name in the records. To the best of my knowledge, no one has ever had their Eagle “revoked”, so we could well be the first. Please keep be informed on how you are and your progress in transitioning and the BSA. Just wanted you to know you are not alone.
    Yours in Scouting
    Donna

    1. Josie

      Thank you for your story and support. Good luck! 🙂

      Please let me know what the BSA says for you if you reach out to them first.

  3. Ara Ca'Tastrofee

    I am the same deal here! Im just a few years older than you (35), I earned my Eagle Scout, with triple crossed palms back in 1997, my OA Vigil honor the next year, and I just re-registered with my local council (Chester County Council) and lodge (Octarara 22) here in Pennsylvania. Yes, the looks I got from adults who the Arrow of Light and Eagle award knots were weird, but also let me educate them. It was fun meeting other women adult leaders, teaching the boys during fellowship weekend about cooking in the outdoors and even once again saluting the flag before dinner.

    I saw if you want to go for it, get back into it! I’m a member at large in my council so I don’t have a troop, but so far, it’s been great, people have been welcoming and I couldn’t be happier to be part of the organization that helped make me the woman I am today!

    1. Marcy Browning

      Very awesome! So glad you are able to stay involved and educate.

  4. Sage

    I didn’t know there were other girls out there that are Eagle Scouts. I am still pre transition, and I have done 3 SPL terms in my troop and I am currently a Life Scout working on Eagle. This really helps me feel better, because I was really beginning to hate BSA as it made me dysphoric to be there.

    1. Josie

      Sage,

      Many of us are out there. When I reached out, I found more and more Eagles like myself. I want to gather us all together or as many as I can get for some kind of meeting up or convention or something. I always have many plans, some happen some don’t.

      Good luck on your Eagle. Get it, it’s worth it. Then become yourself. 🙂 I personally didn’t know about myself until later in life, when I was working on my eagle I just thought I was gay. As many of us have, I did the three ‘come out’ life… first as bi, then gay, then trans. Once you’ve earned your Eagle, nothing can take that away from your soul. In fact, as a Life Scout, you know… it’s already there. 🙂

      I haven’t talked to anyone from my troop since I started transitioning, in fact my troop no longer exists. My troop disbanded only 4 years after I made Eagle. We always had trouble with recruitment. We were one of three drum and bugle corps left in the country. Now, I bet there are only two. 🙁

      I have yet to reach out to the BSA but I do intend to this summer since my name has now changed, I want to get Scout documentation under the proper name. I would like to get active in the BSA again as a female Eagle Scout. I will always love the skills the BSA and scouting have granted me. I just hope the administration of the BSA will embrace me like I wish to embrace the BSA… We shall see in the summer. I’ll probably write about it.

      Best to you. <3
      Good Luck, Please keep in touch,
      ~Josie.

  5. Jacqueline Pollock

    Eagle Scout Class of 1999; Certificate hangs on my wall to this day; am I glad I got it

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