My letter to Taylor, the girl calling for a boycott of Girl Scouts over “transgender promotion”

By , January 11, 2012 10:16 pm

This post is in reference to this video (here’s my transcript). For more info check out this Washington Post blog post. In regards to my video, it’s not up to my usual standards but I wanted to get it out ASAP.

Dear Taylor,

I wish we could sit down and talk. I’d like to think you would be willing to have a conversation with someone who honestly wants to find common ground. I’ve watched your video, and it really moved me. You delivered your message with skill, grace, and emotion – I wish my high school students were as comfortable speaking in front of an audience as you clearly are.

That said, a lot of what was in your video was hurtful to me. I’m not sure if you meant to hurt my feelings, or the feelings of people like me, but your video was painful for me to see. Because I’m a transgender woman. That means that I was born in the body of a boy, but realized I was actually a girl. I’ve been on hormones for a few years now, to help my body match my mind. And a lot of the things you said about what it means to be transgender didn’t match my experience, or the experience of other trans people I know.

Since watching your video, I’ve been researching the Girl Scouts, and I’d like to print the Girl Scout Law, which I found here. I admit I don’t know a lot about Scouting, but I think The Girl Scout Law is a good place to start what I hope can be a conversation between you and I:

I will do my best to be
honest and fair,
friendly and helpful,
considerate and caring,
courageous and strong, and
responsible for what I say and do,
and to
respect myself and others,
respect authority,
use resources wisely,
make the world a better place, and
be a sister to every Girl Scout.

That’s a pretty good code of conduct to try and live by. I’m sure not every Girl Scout lives up to every bit, one hundred percent of the time, but I’m sure you try. I’d like to think that I’m honest and fair, friendly and helpful, and all the other positive qualities in the Girl Scout Law.

I don’t think your video was honest and fair, Taylor.

Transgender stuff can be confusing. Believe me, I know. But you got a few things wrong in your video, and I’d like to help correct them. I think it would make your video more honest and fair. Lets start with one of your video overlays. It’s near the beginning, and the text on your video said “Transgender Girl Scout = boy who wants to be a girl.”

I’m afraid that’s not what it means to be transgender. The simplest way to put it, although it’s really more complicated, is that our gender – what makes us a boy or a girl – is in our head, not between our legs. You aren’t a girl because of what’s between your legs. Neither am I. You’re a girl because you know you are one. That would be true if you had long hair or short, wore pants or dresses, painted your nails or played in the mud. Or did some of those things one day, and something else on another.

Likewise, I’m a girl because I know I am one. It’s a little more complicated for me, since what is between my legs doesn’t match what most people expect when they think ‘girl.’ But part of being respectful of others – something else the Girl Scout Law mentions – is letting every person decide for themselves who they are. I would never say that you need to enjoy playing with dolls, or be good at basketball, or know how to sail a boat. I don’t get to decide who you are; you get to decide that.

But that also means that you don’t get to decide who I am. What kind of books I like to read, who my friends are, or whether I’m a boy or a girl. No matter what I look like or sound like or anything. No one but me gets to decide whether I’m a boy or a girl.

And so when your video asked, in overlay text, “Is it safe to hide boys in Girl Scouts?” I didn’t really understand who was hiding. Because a transgender girl – like the one welcomed into a Colorado troupe – is a girl just like any other Scout. And to reject her, or any other girl, doesn’t seem very friendly or sisterly (two more qualities the Girl Scout Law emphasizes).

Your video also talks about safety, and that’s a very important issue. No Girl Scout – or anyone else – should ever be forced into a situation where they are unsafe. But why would a transgender Girl Scout – someone like me – make you any less safe than any other Girl Scout? To assume I would make you unsafe doesn’t seem respectful, considerate, or caring, three more qualities included in the Girl Scout Law.

Finally, I want to talk to you about Honest Girl Scouts, the organization you mention at the end of your video. Honest Girl Scouts doesn’t seem to follow the Girl Scout Law. It’s not a very nice website. It talks about Girl Scout council’s “entanglements with dubious issues.” Issues like access to informative, safe-sex education. Issues like equality and pride. It looks at all of those issues as bad, and Girl Scouts USA is bad for promoting them. Honest Girl Scouts may be honest, but it’s the honesty of a bully or a mean classmate you thought was a friend.

I hope this letter helped clarify some of the issues you raised in your video. Please let me know if you have any questions, and I wish you nothing but luck as you determine how best to be courageous and speak out for issues you believe in, while still being respectful of others.

Best,

-Rebecca

11 Responses to “My letter to Taylor, the girl calling for a boycott of Girl Scouts over “transgender promotion””

  1. Shamera says:

    Rebecca, your reply is so eloquent and so ordered, it feels like the scientific method. As a former girl scout, I hope Taylor hears you. I certainly learned more about the questions you face, and I sympathize deeply. Most of all, I take strength from your reply. Civility can be hard to find on the Internet and you reacted with strength and grace. Thank you.

    • Rebecca says:

      Thanks so much, Shamera! It’s particularly wonderful to hear from a former Scout. I’d love you to share any other thoughts that Taylor (or anyone else) could benefit from.

  2. Michael says:

    I’m glad I’m seeing responses to this. I tried my best (having been mildly educated about transgenderism) to speak out and say how unfair, and … well ignorant… the young woman’s well delivered argument was. All I could hear from her argument was “These people are icky, and no one told me I’d be around people who are different than me” Thank you for speaking out yourself.

  3. Alexander says:

    Hey Rebecca, your response was great, to put it simply. I am a Boy Scouts USA alumni and I can only say that Taylor’s issue really bothered me, as I have some transgender friends and it saddens me when their group of people are attacked. You did such a perfect job at expressing the issues Taylor brought up and taking them down, I’m glad I was linked here. My heart is with you and all of the QLGBT community, know that this Boy Scout alumni is on your side in this apparent conflict and I will buy GS cookies to help combat this issue and show GSUSA that it is indeed a good and right thing to accept everyone.

    Here’s the video I made in response to Taylor’s if you would like to see:

  4. Patrick says:

    Rebecca, I want to say how impressed I was with your reply to Taylor. Your letter is everything that hers wasn’t: honest and fair, friendly and helpful, considerate and caring, and most definitely courageous and strong.

    Many of the GLBT community, myself included, most likely felt the urge to attack Taylor for the hurtful video she made. I was disgusted and angry and wanted to act upon those feelings. In contrast, your reply was calm, well thought out, and came across, as you intended, in the spirit of education and respect.

    I hope that Taylor hears your words, learns what respect and tolerance actually mean, and hopefully finds a path out of her ignorance and hate.

    Thank you for being a true light in the darkness, Rebecca.

    Love,
    Patrick

  5. I’m not sure you can persuade Taylor or her parents, but I hope somebody who needs to read this letter does, and takes it to heart.

  6. Luci says:

    Wow. You are such an amazing woman. The grace and eloquence with which you delivered your letter is inspirational. I’m not transgendered, but when I watched the original video I was so angry and sad that anyone could honestly feel that way about other human beings. I would never have been able to respond as civilly as you did. Thank you so much for inspiring me today.

  7. Summer Seale says:

    Rebecca,

    That was one of the best video letters I have *ever* seen. Hands down. Your arguments were brilliant and honest, and your delivery was just as flawless. I reposted it on G+ for my friends because everyone deserves to see this. =)

    You are a credit to the cause of equality for all people. Thank you so much for posting this. <3

  8. Rebecca says:

    Thanks so much to all of the positive responses. It’s been really heartening to realize that not everyone agrees with Taylor. I’m a bit under the weather today (BOO!) but will try to respond more fully soon.

    • Summer Seale says:

      Well I hope you get better soon. =)

      And I actually have seen almost nobody on G+ or other places who supported Taylor’s video. I actually railed against it when I first saw it in a post of my own and tons of others did the same.

      If anything, when small minded people rear their heads, it usually serves to bring everyone else together. =) Oh and you gained another subscriber to your feed.

  9. Erica says:

    Hi Rebecca! I loved your response letter video. Very moving. I am a former Girl Scout , and your words moved me like no other, and I have the utmost respect for you. Kids, adults, anyone……they shouldn’t be told they don’t belong. This is so wrong! It’s as bad as putting up a “whites’s only” sign on everything. When I watched this….as a Christian I thought wow….Rebecca has shown this girl so much grace. That’s not always easy to do. Keep it up Girlie! You are amazing!

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