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.
The 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
- Personal Fitness
- Emergency Preparedness OR Lifesaving (I did do both, one by choice)
- Environmental Science OR Sustainability
- Personal Management
- Swimming OR Hiking OR Cycling
- 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 188.8.131.52 through 184.108.40.206.)
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.