Shutterstock image purchased by Mike Walton
As many of you following me either here or elsewhere on the Internet know, I get an awful lot of electronic mail every day. It never stops -- not for Christmas or Easter; not for my birthday nor that of my mate or any of my children. It has ebbs and flows and since I put my email addresses "out there," I really cannot complain too much about the level -- of richness -- or stupidity -- or downright mean or absolutely uplifting -- the mail I receive on any given day.
The best mail I get is those I can respond to during breaks at work, during lunchtime or dinner time, or over the weekends when I'm not out at some campground or tradeoree during the slow periods or any other number of other places. This mail piece, which I've edited lots of detail out of and changed his name and location, spoke to me and was timely.
It might speak to you as well. I don't know this for a fact. I do know that my previous posting I was going to place here on Scouting Anniversary Day (8 Feb) was pale in my personal "comparison scale." There was nothing earth-shattering about the note...except for the fact it's from a Scout.
A Scout who just wants to do Scouts:
I don't know how to pronounce, let alone say the OA tribal name you use, so I'll just say "Hi Mike." My name's Taylor, and I live in a town outside St. Louis on the MO side. My Dad, two of his brothers, and my dead Gramps all were in or associated with Boy Scouting. I lived the Boy Scouting life: ever since I was old enough to put three fingers together and raise them, I pledged my life to the Scout rules - the Scout Oath and the Scout Law. I went camping, hiking in the mountains in New Mexico, and went to so many Scout meetings and dinners, I should have received something like an honorary Scout.
I came out on my 11th birthday two years ago and my family, my community, and everyone who took the time to know me supported me and knows that foremost I'm a "Scout." To me, nothing can keep me from doing my best, from making others proud of having me as a friend, and for me to do well at school. Don't know about what church you go but the church where we attend is one of those United Methodist Churches which are "inclusive and open," and I am considered one of the elders in the youth program.
All I want to do is Scouts. If there were a college where I could major in Scouting leadership, I would apply and do everything I could to be there. I know now that I could apply for and get an Air National Guard commission while in college -- I would love to fly someday -- but what I really want to do to learn to be a great Scoutmaster and Commissioner, like my Dad was and his father before him.
I know that Eagle Scout is not a goal for me, although I would earn and wear it with pride if I could. I am waiting to join Ventures [Venturing] but here's my question to you. I hope you can help me.
Seven weeks ago, I found the source of my Gayness. It is because trapped in my female body is a man. I talked with my parents, a religious leader, and two doctors including a psychiatrist and they all agree with me. Next week, I start taking shots which will start the process of my transformation from female to male. I am so excited...[background deleted]
With all of that backstory, is there any above-the-board way in which I can become a Scout? (please, PLEASE don't tell me to do things which will break the Scout Oath or Law. I have read about people who will do anything to get their kid their Eagle for school and college. Eagle, while nice, is NOT IMPORTANT to this "guy") I read about "lone Scouts"...is that where I fit in? I really want to be with other Scouts...but I am so afraid that I have to wait until I become a Venture Scout [ my note: "Venturer" describes people in the Venturing program] and miss out on Scout summer camp, cookouts, Jamborees and all the rest.
Thank you for everything, and if you send me info on how to pronounce that name, I'll give it a shot!
Hello Taylor!! I read your email mailed to me on Jan 25th, and I read it over the weekend of Jan. 27th, but today (Feb.1) was the first time I could respond back to you. I apologize for the lateness of my posting to you -- I was sick with either a virus or that food poisoning that is going around. Either way, I was in no condition to answer until now.
You and I are cut from same pieces of cloth, Taylor. No, I am not "transitioning" nor have I ever been. I do have the experience of being the parent to a wonderful transgendered kid I've known since age 4. This summer he graduates from high school -- the last of the children from a set of blended families in which I've been blessed to be the "dad figure" (read "ATM and taxi driver") of. I also have a Lesbian daughter and a Gay son too as part of the blend. All of my kids have my love, respect, and it's hard for me not to be proud of each of them as they proudly stepped out into the society pool on their own.
I am a bit jealous of you. You have parents -- in particular male parents -- who took you to do Scouting stuff. My family was not into anything outdoors. I had to do my Scouting as part of other families, which I'm grateful for, but it's not the same as having Dad and Gramps and your uncles all out "hiking, tramping -- feeling like a champion!" with you. (that's from an Oak Ridge Boys BSA commercial in the 70s. YouTube it sometimes! *smiling*)
Today, the Boy Scouts of America gave me hope for the future of our program; and in return you and other transgendered youth another reason to keep faith with us, Taylor. They announced that they would accept you as a registered Boy Scout if your parents (and I am sure they will) fill out the application and "certify" that you are a boy. This, according to the documents which are going from the BSA's National Center this morning to all of the local Councils; and in return to all of the units, does NOT mean "examination," "demonstration" or anything stupid like that. It also means that a Troop does not need stacks of pages of medical texts and reports which says what your parents and you know: you are a boy.
I would encourage you to please seek a Troop in town which declares themselves to be "open and accepting to all" and talk with their adult leadership about joining them. You fit the requirements to become a Boy Scout, Taylor: a boy between 11 and 17, living in the town, and willing to subscribe to the Scouting ideals as part of your code for living.
Lone Scouting exists for those who cannot find a suitable unit or has medical or social situations which exceed that of local "coordination." This may be an option for you....but perhaps not. Like me, you want to be among friends -- that's why I became a Boy Scout in part. A Troop will allow you to do this.
Please don't wait too long...and please be patient with some of the adults who may be mean-spirited to you. This change is new to them, and some of them are scared of change. Others are not thinking through with their head and heart when they come up with silly reasons why you can't "be with the boys." Since transgender has been around for quite some time; and since schools, churches, and families like yours have been coping with this for some time, those "arguments" fall, at least to me (and to the BSA or else they would not amend their youth membership policy) on some deaf ears.
I share in one of my stories online since there was no Scout Troop around where I lived, that with permission from the local BSA executive, I simply went door to door in my community and recruited a chartered partner, a Scoutmaster, two Assistant Scoutmasters, and five boys. I chartered the Troop in which I became the second Eagle Scout in that Troop. (the first was a guy named Richard Trebbett who transferred to the Troop from overseas and just wanted to earn his Eagle and then leave). I later came back and served as Scoutmaster of that Troop for two years. So if push comes to shove, Taylor, if you cannot find an "open and inclusive Troop" there contact me and I'll come to Missouri and together we will create your own Troop!
I wish you luck, and I remind you that nothing, including Scouting, is easy. Never has been.
Scouting is a great game to be a part of and play, but like anything, you have to be committed toward a goal and achieving that goal.
That goal *may be* that of earning Eagle or transferring to a Venturing Crew and earning Summit, their highest rank/award. It *may be* gaining the skill set to learn how to become a Scoutmaster and taking Wood Badge (ask your Dad what "critter" your Grandfather was....I think you can look around and quickly find out which patrol your Dad was in...). It may be something totally unrelated. I'll leave that to you to explore....but commit to a goal and work toward achieving it.
Oh...take a look at the webpage below, and it'll tell you how to pronounce "settummanque."
Good luck, Taylor!! Thanks for writing to me!!