The 19-year-old had to go through an emotionally challenging journey to get to this point. She had dropped Scouting for a few years when she first came out.
A 19-year-old transgender teen recently made history as she joined the ranks of the Scouts BSA's inaugural female Eagle Scouts. Beatrix Jackman from Austin, Texas, was surprised with her hard-earned certificate, medal, patch, pins, and card by Charles Mead of the Capitol Area Council, Boy Scouts of America, last week after she passed her board of review earlier this month. The teen has been working closely with PFLAG National — the first and largest organization for LGBTQ+ people, their parents and families, and allies — ever since she came out as transgender. She earned the rank of Eagle Scout by focusing her service project on supporting PFLAG Austin by sourcing, creating, and distributing self-care kits.
In a press release to Upworthy, Anna Nguyen, the president of PFLAG Austin, said: "We are very proud to have been a part of Ms. Jackman's journey and we are happy to have assisted her in her challenge of becoming one of the first female Eagle Scouts. When Beatrix first came out, she and her mom came to our support groups. As with many other families with a newly out transgender child, they found a supportive, empowering, comforting environment in our support groups, as well as useful information and beneficial anecdotes from other parents and others in the queer community. Now, through her Eagle project, she has given back to help others feel supported, too."
Although today Jackman's honor signals a new era of inclusion for the Scouts BSA, the teen had to go through a long and emotionally challenging journey to get to this point. Despite having been a scout for most of her life, she had to leave Scouting for a few years after she came out as trans in middle school. "I was worried about telling my troop because I loved scouting. That was the last place where my mom called me my birth name. She had to hesitate before she said it, and I got to the point where I could not stand being called it one more time," she revealed. "[The leadership] said I could stay but I would have to present male and be called my birth name, or I could do lone scouting where I did everything on my own, or I could quit."
Opinion: The Boy Scouts are rebranding. But they’re still excluding a big group. https://t.co/Ms8mvENSal— The Washington Post (@washingtonpost) December 15, 2018
Jackman chose the latter and left scouting — something she says is an integral part of her being — in 2015. She chose to return a few years later in 2019 when the organization revised its membership policy to allow girls to join for the first time ever. "Why come back? It was important for me to finish. It was more important for me to blaze this path so others could follow," she said. "The troop I joined in 2019, with my permission, my mom let the troops know I was transgender, and I was looking to complete my path to Eagle Scout. Everyone in the troop was accepting and so helpful. Many people in the Scouting community helped me from being merit badge counselors, giving me advice. The Capitol Area Council and Armadillo district personnel all supported me and made this possible."
The Boy Scouts of America has a new name: Scouts BSA.— AJ+ (@ajplus) May 2, 2018
3,000 girls have already signed up to become scouts since the program opened up to girls this year. pic.twitter.com/QImlDan4FA
For her service project, Jackman reached out to local businesses, organizations, and individuals to collect donations for self-care kits that were then distributed to LGBTQ+ people, their families, and allies. Each self-soothing kit personally assembled by the teen was packed with items that would help a person become calmer in times of stress, like bath bombs, lip gloss, journals, essential oils, perfume, fidget toys, coloring books, candles, chewing gum, hot chocolate, and more. Starbucks, Sephora, Lush, NXP Semiconductors, BookPeople, and Capital City Men's Chorus contributed to the kits and the teen also conducted drives at McCallum High School and the Gender and Sexuality Center at UT Austin to support the project.
As happy and honored as she is to be a part of the inaugural class of female Eagle Scouts, she wishes her grandmother could've been alive today to see it. "My grandparents, Loretta & Seymour Ziegelman, totally supported me from the very beginning. They had questions but were all in on supporting me. It's not that I didn't expect it, but it was really important as I have lost people in my life because they are not accepting," Jackman explained. "I am sad because my grandma died in June 2020 before I had my board of review. She was so excited about my Eagle Scout project and helped me plan the self-soothing kits as she had a master's degree in social work."
The teen also expressed gratitude to Mr Bjerke, who ran the GSA (Gay–Straight Alliance) at her high school for having been a constant source of support. "His room was a safe place I could go if I was having problems or just needed somewhere to hang out. When I started high school, he told me 'don't ask permission to be you,'" she recalled. But most of all, Jackman and her family credit PFLAG for helping them through her transition journey. "PFLAG is one of the first places my mom went for information. She went to meetings every month, and I would go too when I wasn’t at my dad’s house," revealed the Eagle Scout.
Congrats in store for Beatrix Jackman — a young trans woman here in #Austin who officially became an Eagle Scout after a long road to earn that distinction.— Will DuPree (@willrdupree) October 23, 2020
Check out more reporting on her story from @ToddKXAN here: https://t.co/v9kDTCT71l@KXAN_News pic.twitter.com/Ua0IGGmGlO
"I would talk sometimes, but mostly just listen while my mom learned more from LGBTQ+ people, parents, and allies. I went through some dark periods, and everyone at the meetings helped me and my mom. I really do credit PFLAG with saving my life," she added. Her mom, Julie Ziegelman, shared similar sentiments as she said: "It made me so happy that Beatrix chose this organization for her Eagle project because PFLAG Austin is family. This was one place I could go monthly with no judgment and share stories, receive useful information and above all, empathy from all. Beatrix has been a Scout most of her life. It was pretty devastating for her to leave Scouting in 2015 when she began her transition. Working with the Boy Scouts to give her a path to completion as her true self is something our family is so proud of."
Beatrix Jackman was surprised with her Eagle Scout credentials, and we received this bonus surprise - Pride Oreos!!! pic.twitter.com/zjHirLWEKv— Julie Ziegelman (@JZiegelman) October 22, 2020
"The goal of this project was not just to give you a kit with random items for self-soothing, but to give you ideas of things you could put in the kit so if you are having a problem, you will have access to items that can help you immediately. My hope is that the lessons I learned through my struggles will help you too," Jackman, who is a member of Scouts BSA Troop 2019, explains in a letter included with each kit. "It was important to do this project for PFLAG because they helped save my life and assisted my mom in becoming the supportive ally she is today."