Trans Girl Scout Stands Up to Real Cookie Monster Who Called Her 'Boy in Dress'
We spoke with former Girl Scouts, both cis and trans, to learn about the intersection of wholesome childhood fun and the gender binary represented by Boy and Girl Scouts.
Photo by Steve Jennings via Getty Images
A transgender girl named Stormi encountered a bully while selling cookies for her Girl Scout troupe. According to Buzzfeed, the bully was a neighbor. "Stormi knocked on one door three blocks from their home," Buzzfeed reported. "A man opened the door. After Stormi made her pitch for cookies, he said, 'Nobody wants to buy cookies from a boy in a dress.'"
It's strange that this mysterious fool prioritized prejudice over snacks, made a child cry, and had the nerve to talk down to someone who obviously has a cooler name than him. In an effort to understand the strange world of the Girl Scouts, Broadly spoke with women and transgender adults who once had troupes of their own.
Janelle is a cisgender woman in her thirties. She was a Girl Scout in the 1980's; according to her, "Being a girl scout was kind of fun, we learned survival techniques and skills, you were part of a group." But she can understand how the organization could be hard on some kids. On a basic level, the boy and girl scouts of America are defined by gender. "If you were a girl, you were a Girl Scout [and] if you were a boy, you were a Boy Scout. As far as gender goes, it was as simple as that back in the day."
[Being a Girl Scout was] ultimately too dysphoria-producing for me.
Cultural definitions of what makes someone a boy or a girl are changing in the 21st century, and those changes are easily apparent in the modern Girl Scouts member policy. According to their website, any child who is "recognized by the family and school/community as a girl and lives culturally as a girl" will find that Girls Scouts is "an organization that can serve her in a setting that is both emotionally and physically safe."
Despite the organization's open-mindedness, transgender kids are still finding themselves targeted by slow folk with bigoted neuroses and conservative dumb-dumbs who want the world to be some perverted 1950's live action gender role playing game. Luke is a non-binary transgender person. When he was a child, he was a Girl Scout. Luke loved certain aspects of the experience: "For a number of girls in my troop who were shy or had social anxiety, it was a place of belonging," he says. However, the experience was ultimately mentally painful for him as a transgender boy who, at the time, believed himself to be a gender non-conforming girl. "[Being a Girl Scout was] ultimately too dysphoria-producing for me," he says.
Luke can hardly imagine an out transgender girl having been in his childhood Girl Scout troop, "given how conservative the girls' parents were about same-sex sexual activity." He even questions his own ability to have accepted a girl like Stormi at that point in his life, because he had not yet accepted himself. "I remember how transphobic I was before I came to terms with myself. For me, I personally wanted to be a Boy Scout because that was more in line with my gender, but I wasn't allowed to join."
Though times have changed—both personally for Luke and culturally in the United States—it still isn't hard to understand how discrimination might be found in a traditional institution like the Girl Scouts. Luke says that our society is deeply transmisogynistic, "even with the [Girl Scout] headquarters proclaiming a trans-affirmative membership policy, that doesn't mean that's what it looks like for individual scouts, as [Stormi's] story sadly shows."
I spoke with one other transgender man who was once a Girl Scout. His name is Mars, and though his experience might be more a boy's tale than a girl's, it contains an important lesson for us all. "I was a Brownie for about 6 months,' Mars says, "but I ate all the cookies instead of selling them."