I’ll Take Two Boxes Of The Fagalongs

Girl-Scout-Cookies After a 14-year-old girl’s YouTube video* asking people not to buy Girl Scout cookies because a Colorado troop admitted a 7-year-old transgender went viral, the Huffington Post’s coverage has more than 5,800 comments–most supporting GSUSA and vowing to buy cookies.

I was a Girl Scout, not only as a little girl, but as a teenager capable of paying my own dues and driving myself to meetings. It wasn’t considered cool to be an almost-adult-aged Girl Scout, but I didn’t care. It rocked: camping out in knee-deep snow building fires from sticks, lashing A-frames sturdy enough to drag someone, competing in dog sledge or snowshoe races against the Boy Scouts and then dancing with them at night, all under the guidance of a supportive leader who taught us to learn new things and celebrate differences. A friend and I even became co-leaders of a troop of Brownies, shaping youngsters’ own introductions to a fun and caring Girl Scout experience.

The girl in the video, however, appears to have slept through all eight years of her GS meetings and activities.

Rather than embracing already-stigmatized boys who fully identify as girls, she calls their inclusion into GSUSA “disturbing to her and her family” and complains that GSUSA is wrong for accepting “all members, regardless of…gender.” She’s uncomfortable with her own fantasy of sharing a tent with an 18-year-old transgendered cadet (there is no evidence that mixed genders of Girl Scouts ever have or will shared tents) and claims in her stiffly-rehearsed video that “GSUSA cares more about promoting the desires of a small handful of people than it does for my safety and for the safety of my friends and sister Girl Scouts and they are doing it money we earned for them from Girl Scout cookies.” Her fear: a boy who doesn’t truly identify as a girl will suffer the humiliation of his peers and go through years of Girl Scout meetings, activities, uniforms, and fundraising, all in order to molest her on the annual camping trip. All part of GSUSA’s diabolical plan.

The girl, identified in news sources only as “Taylor,” says the American public should boycott buying cookies “until GSUSA addresses our concerns,” while accusing the 100-year-old girl-empowering organization of advancing “adult agendas that have nothing to do with helping girls.” Who does she mean by “our” concerns? Why, Honest Girl Scouts, a group terrified of the Girl Scouts organization’s “progressive,” “radical” and “LBGT” agenda, and the related Facebook group, “Make the Girl Scouts Clean Again”. Both groups appear to involve both Rev. Frank Pavone, national director of the anti-choice group Priests for Life; known anti-abortion advocate Abby Johnson (who stated she was not out to become an activist, then promptly became one); and Jane Smith Petry, an ultra-conservative who in her late 60s who is still active in Girl Scouts, heroically battling the organization’s inclusiveness from the inside.

One of my fellow high school Girl Scouts, who later worked for GSUSA, challenged “Make the Girl Scouts Clean Again” on Facebook today after the group posted a Glen Beck video about the “pro-God, pro-family, pro-life American Heritage Girls scouting alternative.” (Not that I oppose letting the small group of children whose parents are so uncomfortable with inclusivity leave Girl Scouts so GSUSA can focus safely on the majority of children who DO embrace and accept those who are different.) Her comments and MGSCA’s responses are pictured here. Notice how horrified “MGSCA” is that a “homosexual man” who was in a “homopunk” band (the long-defunct Dead Betties) now sits in a corporate office writing press releases for GSUSA. Lock up your daughters!

The comments posted on “Taylor’s” video were disabled and hidden after hundreds of Americans spoke out against bigotry and in support of Girl Scouts USA. I applaud that this young woman spoke out about something important to her, if that’s what was going on, but the whole video seems forced–as if she is being used for the same type of “adult” agenda of which she accuses GSUSA. Judging by their hiding of comments opposing “Taylor’s” video stance and their refusal to identify her, her parents / sponsors want to protect her–so why make her the face of their intolerance campaign in the first place? Wouldn’t they have more traction in featuring a Girl Scout who was actually hurt by the inclusion of transgendered children?  Oh, that’s right, no one has been–unless you count young Bobby Montoya, whose mother lovingly enrolled her in a Girl Scout troop (after overcoming far too much adult fear and controversy) to be active with peers in the gender she identifies with–and is now undoubtedly feeling hurt, confused and excluded by this tiny but vocal outcry. Score one for the righteous.

Cookie season is just beginning, so keep your eyes out for those tables of Thin Mints outside grocery stores or sign-up sheets for your co-workers’ kids. In addition to sending a message that bigotry has no place in this valuable organization, your money is going to the same place it always has–helping generations of girls set goals, manage money, learn people skills, and support activities ranging from community service projects to attending summer camp, all while accepting others’ differences. Now that’s a tasty cookie.

Girl-Scout-fight

*UPDATE: The video was publicly available when I wrote this post just a few hours ago; I took all the quotes I used directly from “Taylor’s” own words. The controversy has since caused its creators to make the video private. Apologies for anyone who had trouble finding the video. Also, my screencap of the Facebook conversation was too long for the Daily Dose’s format, so it has been moved to the end of the post. -AM

12 thoughts on “I’ll Take Two Boxes Of The Fagalongs”

  1. there was a fagalong who tagged his way along with a group of Tagalog women to Samoa to buy sea shells down by the sea shore???

    At this point I am trés confused but no, transsexual is not the same as transgender. In spite of what ever good they might occasionally do and even if they finally got rid of Troup Coronado, groups like GLAAD are responsible for the confusion.

    As far as Samoa is concerned, it’s a place that holds great promise for wayward sexologists, who are little more than modern day phrenologists, gather facts in case anyone might attack there imaginations – the type of people who travel to exotic climes to study cultures they cannot comprehend. Specifically, I am referring the Samoan fa’afafine, some of whom might be transsexual, intersex or both.

    I really like blogs like the Daily Dose. I promise to follow your posts from here on in. I am concerned about the child’s(Bobby) privacy and development. The word “cascade” is used very often by people who study sex differentiation. Cascades do not terminate at birth. Cascades continue throughout life. I hope Bobby Montoya gets the most expert and sensitive help available. Life can be awfully tough.

  2. Annie Messier

    Hi Cailin,

    I really don’t know what you mean when you say that “tagalong” would be as patronizing and dismissive as “fagalong.” I know the Girl Scouts changed the name of that cookie recently to “peanut butter patties,” but I don’t recall hearing any outcry leading up to that decision, which seems to have been applied to a bunch of their cookie names. Is it because the original name was similar to a language called Tagalog? I -do- know that I and many others think “chocolate-covered peanut butter cookie” when we hear that word because of the many decades those cookies were sold, bought and consumed as Tagalongs. I also read the above commenter’s mention of Samoas as “boy, those cookies with caramel, toasted coconut and chocolate stripes sure are addictive” and not some clever barb on transsexualism. I’m likely adding to your frustration that people aren’t always aware of the facts and history behind words and concepts, but I’m not sure it’s such a bad thing to think “cookie” and not “slur” when hearing a particular word/brand name that’s been pervasive in our culture so long. Nor do I think that a good communicator and writer is less qualified than another because he has “boy parts” (in response to your query on why the Girl Scouts can’t find a woman to represent them), although I do agree that it can be helpful to have actually been a Girl Scout (which hopefully most or all of the many female GSUSA administrators had been) in order to communicate and advocate for them. This is a poor example because their focus has since evolved onto families, but I did some successful fundraising work at the Young Men’s Christian Association without having had the experience being a young man ; )

    I was lucky in college to be involved in a guest lecture series in which we secured several transsexual/transgendered speakers (from what they informed me at the time, the words are interchangeable for people who were born into the wrong body, boys who identify as girls and vice versa, and not all of them choose or can afford to have reassignment surgery). In Bobby’s case, this child was born with “boy parts” but truly identifies as a girl, and despite bullying and teasing from her classmates and negativity from adults, she is who she is. I wrote this piece not to sensationalize Bobby—”real” media outlets have done that ever since she was initially turned away by a Girl Scout troop—but to express my own frustration and anger that some people are using her as an excuse to attack the organization and encourage others to slam doors in cookie-selling Girl Scouts’ faces this year.

    I’m heartened to hear that you’ve seen people trying to educate themselves on what you so correctly say is a complex issue. I hope people continue to learn, and that those like you with knowledge and passion continue to help them do so. And I hope a few people have decided to buy Girl Scout cookies this year, too!

  3. Hi Annie,

    I understand “Reclaimatory language is interesting in part because it is deliberately taking an offensive word and claiming it, giving it a new definition.” I would have to go off on a long tangent in order to discuss slurs such as “fag” and “queer”. That is hardly the point here. Do you actually think “tagalong” isn’t just as patronizing and dismissive as “fagalong”?

    I cringe every time a story like this is sensationalized. This post appeared on my Facebook news feed yesterday. There were twenty three puzzled replies. The subject, quickly enough, turned to mythical offspring of Hermes and Aphrodite and non-consensual childhood surgeries. Really, subject matter like this requires a lot more discretion and research for anyone to do a highly personal situation like this any kind of justice. One person in the comment thread labored to find a definition for the word “transgender” and complained about the Wikipedia blackout. Wikipedia blackout notwithstanding, all I can say is good luck if you can get anyone to truly tell you what a word with such a vague definition means. Of course, GLAAD was all over this like flies chasing a garbage truck in late July.

    As far as gay men being spokespeople for girls and women, I don’t understand why the Girl Scouts can’t find a woman to represent them. Are you aware of Don Lemon’s role in this matter, his interview on CNN w/ Dr. Alduan Tartt http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/1110/29/cnr.05.html

    “And most of the men said, they’re too young, until he gets older and he can express himself, you know, maybe when he’s in high school or in college, it’s fine. But at his certain age, a parent has to be a parent. Why would dad think differently?

    TARTT: Well, you know, it’s that — thing. But it’s a slippery slope…

    LEMON: It’s not just — because there were even gay men in the class who were saying, no, don’t let him do it.”

    Gay men, more often than not, are as much of a problem if not more of a problem than straight men are. It’s amazing how Lemon seems to go out of his way using male pronouns to refer to Bobby. Anyone familiar with the exchange between Ashley Love Souza and Don Lemon at the NAACP LGBT town meeting would understand just how bad things can get between women of transsexual history and gay men. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6TXXkSEBP8k&feature=player_embedded

    This controversy really is a very private, complex issue better discussed out of the limelight. If Bobby Montoya turns out to be transsexual this would only be an LGBT issue if Bobby turned out to be attracted to women or both men and women. Often times feminine boys simply turn out to be gay and it could be both a gay and transgender problem but I don’t think highly personal issues like transsexualism should be exploited the way these situations most often are. There is at least a twenty per cent chance Bobby Montoya is transsexual. People of transsexual history are often forced to get as far away from anyone who knows their background, if possible, in order to avoid mistreatment; all because there are few who really grasp what is really involved.

  4. Annie Messier

    So is Girl Scout cookie selling institutional child labor or all done by the girls’ parents? Choose one : P

  5. Annie Messier

    Thanks for taking the time to comment Cailin. My choice to change the Girl Scout cookie “Tagalongs” into “Fagalongs” for the title of this post was not meant to insinuate that little Bobby Montoya or any other transsexual is gay. My issue is with the vitrol being leveled at Girl Scouts USA by a small group of people eager to bash anyone who doesn’t fit their perception of acceptable. As I mentioned in my post and as pictured in the above photo, the Facebook group pushing for the cookie boycott was horrified that a gay man works for the Girl Scouts. In response, I chose a deliberately provocative title. Being transgendered OR gay does not make anyone less valuable to a troop or an organization than those who aren’t. Meeting people who aren’t exactly like them or their parents could be a learning experience for all children, not a reason for adults to perpetuate fear and disgust.

  6. I want to say thanks for speaking up on behalf of the GSUSA decision and the child in question. You are tackling a very complicated subject. The use of the expression “fagalong”, however, may seem cute and witty but it seems to betray a lack of understanding of what the child’s situation is if the child is actually transsexual instead of one who will simply grow up gay.

    I don’t know if you are familiar with hormone blockers, GnRH agonist that inhibit puberty, or the program in place at Children’s Hospital in Boston. I won’t go into statistics regarding outcomes for such children but a significant number follow a transsexual path and are eligible for sex changing surgery at eighteen. Some, such as Kin Petras, have had their surgeries even younger.

    If the child turns out to be transsexual, then the child, if attracted to men, would be heterosexual – not a “gay male who likes to tag along with girls”. The Samoa joke was cute, as well, but I think the commenter might have been reading too much Paul Vassey to be able to make any sense out of what this particular child’s experience might be or become.

  7. Actually, I really did. My mother insisted that it was cheating for her to just bring the sheet to work, and she also insisted that I had to get the ‘100 boxes sold’ badge. We spent whole Saturdays going door-to-door selling those damn things until finally I refused to get out of the car. So in that regard, no, I didn’t sell all of the cookies, but I certainly did the work.

  8. Be honest, did you really sell cookies?
    All the girl scout cookies i’ve had were sold to me by the kids parents.

  9. I loved being a Girl Scout, but I hated selling cookies. However, this year, I’m going to load up for the first time in a long time.

  10. The nerve of some people. This is stupidity at its finest. I was a girl scout from the time I was 8 until I graduated highschool. Ten years I sold cookies. Heck I even carried them to school with me to sell and no one looked differently at me. One of the key things I learned in GS was tolerance – regardless of age, race, gender, or sexual preference. What does it matter if a transgendered child that associates with girls wants to be a GS? More power to her. Obviously this scared little girl who is complaining about the unlikeliness of a “boy in girls clothing” trying something inappropriate with her probably never took into consideration that at that annual camping trip she just might share a tent with a girl who may be a lesbian. What a person does in their private life shouldn’t be paraded around for the world to see. Shame on all these bigots for making a mountain out of a molehill and shame on that girl for sticking her nose in someone’s business, whether she was forced to or not.

  11. Girl Scout cookie selling is institutionalized child labor. But I guess the Samoas make it alright in my book. Thin mints = overrated.

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