In Nov. 2016, Joe Maldonado was asked to leave his Boy Scouts Troop after having been a member for one month. The Northern New Jersey Council of the Boy Scouts of America called his mother, Kristie Maldonado, and said Joe could no longer participate due to having been born a girl.
After receiving backlash for the decision, BSA reversed its discriminatory policy on Jan 30. They stated on their website that their approach to determining eligibility by deferring to an applicant’s birth certificate is “no longer sufficient as communities and state laws are interpreting gender identity differently, and these laws vary widely from state to state.”
This meant that Joe, 9, could officially rejoin his Boy Scouts troop. Kristie signed him up for a different pack, Pack 20, one week after the official announcement, because she didn’t want him to return to his original Pack 87 in Secaucus after speculating that his initial removal was caused by complaints from parents.
Recently, Joe attended his first meeting with Pack 20, making him the first openly transgender boy to join BSA. Here’s what you should know about the brave little boy who made history.
1.He’s been telling his mom he identifies as male since he was just two years old.
According to the Independent, Kristie said his real male identity has “been there all along, from age 2 or 2 and a half. I just didn’t know what it was.”
2. He was born Jodi, but began his transition to male two years ago.
Kristie said that when she originally signed Joe up for Boy Scouts, his gender identity wasn’t a secret. Everyone knew that Joe was transgender and the pack accepted his application without a problem. Kristie believes his removal came after parents complained to the national council.
3. He was the first child to be banned from the Boy Scouts for being transgender, according to advocates for gay and transgender people.
The Scouts overturned a rule that banned gay members and troop leaders from participating in 2013 and 2015, respectively. However, in a statement, they defended their decision to ban transgender participants by saying, “No youth may be removed from any of our programs on the basis of his or her sexual orientation. Gender identity isn’t related to sexual orientation.”
4. He’s just a regular boy, who likes to go camping and do science experiments.
“We eat cupcakes, it was fun,” he said of his time in his first pack. “But they ruined it.” Heart shattered.
5. He’s been getting letters of support from people all over the world.
Kristie said the letter that touched her the most was one from a scout leader in the UK, inviting Joe to be a part of their troop.
“Send him a necker and name tape to let him know that even if BSA don’t want him, here in the UK we don’t discriminate and any kid that wants to be a cub can be.”
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