Cookie Monster and Memory Lane

girl scout cookiesSeveral years ago, Cookie Monster himself declared that cookies were a “sometimes food.” What a disappointment. After a childhood of thinking the way to eat a cookie was to mash it into my felty mouth, now I was supposed to eat apples and celery?

At least we had the annual Girl Scout cookie drive, the largest fundraising activity for the Girl Scout organization. There’s a proper emphasis on cookies. Who doesn’t like buying a couple of boxes of these to help support one of the biggest woman-run organizations in the US?

Taylor, a teenage Scout from California, that’s who. In her YouTube video, she calls for a boycott on Girl Scout cookies because a troop in Colorado let in a trans girl as a Scout. Taylor thinks this 7-year-old is a danger to the other Scouts, and unravels the entire “for girls” mantra in the organization.

Taylor seems pretty coached to me, and also supremely bigoted. Susanne made the off-hand remark that she must be gunning for her Hatemongering Badge.

As these Internet sensations go, people around the country responded almost immediately to the idea of hurting the Girl Scouts for their trans-inclusion. Let’s start a buycott and purchase extra Girl Scout cookies. One trans support group in San Francisco is now hosting an “Eat In” of cookies once they show up in their area.

After months of listening to people gripe about the divisions in the LGBT community, or becoming despondent about the constant stream of news about queer and trans youth suicide, we finally have a moment. People all along the LGBT spectrum were posting in their social networks about buying more cookies. Instead of talking about the hell that must be living through a transgender childhood, we are celebrating a family that is supporting their daughter and a national organization that is giving her access to all of the leadership training, community time, and wellness promoting activities that the Girl Scouts offer girls.

Of course this is precisely the moment of backlash, even as people on the right tell us all the time they don’t want to see kids killing themselves. They just don’t want to give them any support, want the “right” to bully them with impunity, and want to ban any gay or trans-affirming organization that may be founded in a school. These are disingenuous arguments, just like the idea that letting a transgender girl into a troop is somehow dangerous to the Scouts in that troop, or to the organization itself.

More damaging to the Girl Scouts would be a significant drop in cookie sales. This idea—that one single, trans kid who has been accepted into the family of scouts is so terrifying that the entire fundraising system should grind to a halt—is bigotry at its most paranoid. It also flies in the face of everything we know about what kinds of support kids need as they figure out who they are as people.

Fortunately, many of us on the progressive left and in the broader LGBT community are fed up with the poverty of these lies and calls for our attention. And in the case of the Girl Scouts, Taylor has riled up a lot of women with memories of their own participation as Brownies or Scouts, many of whom don’t appreciate being told what to do.

One of the highlights of my youth was leading an insurrection in my Brownies group. I had all the girls marching in a circle and chanting protests. It was awesome.

I was kicked out of the Brownies for being “subversive”. I just did not want to wear brown socks and was rather vocal about it.

I was a Brownie. It sucked. All we did was tie knots and make lemonade.

Personally, I think knot-tying comes in handy from time to time. But what this call to boycott faces, ultimately, is resistance from people’s political positions as supportive of queer and trans youth, and from their affectionate ties and memories of personal experience as Scouts. My own sister was a Girl Scout and in her adulthood, a cookie mom (the people who coordinate the cookie sales for their troops). Somewhere in the midst of calling for a boycott for the reasons Taylor provides, against the organization Taylor is a part of, people are pushing back.

In so doing, Taylor has given us all a moment when we can come together and voice our support/opposition, when we can find a simple, concrete thing to do (Eat MOR Cookies), and open up spaces to talk about why these issues are so important and dear to us.

Hey. Thank you, Taylor.

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Categories: LGBT Civil Rights

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  1. Where Trans People May Tread | Trans/plant/portation - April 3, 2012

    […] around the issue of trans women and men in competitions and in private groups. Earlier this year a teenage Girl Scout in California posted a video calling on people to boycott her organization’s annual cookie […]

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