By Grace Carr
A transgender day camp for kids ages four through twelve in California is boasting triple enrollment since its founding three years ago, reported the Associated Press.
The pre-schoolers and elementary school kids who attend the “Rainbow Day Camp” start each morning by choosing which pronoun they want to use for the day, according to the AP. Campers can choose, “he”, “she”, a combo of “he/she”, “they”, or opt to write undecided or nothing at all.
The San Francisco Bay Area camp has made it its mission to cater to “gender fluid” and transgender children. Founded in 2014, the camp is currently the only one to offer a transgender program of sorts to such young children. The camp has about 60 attendees, up from 20 in its first summer.
“A decade ago, this camp wouldn’t have existed. Eventually, I do believe, it won’t be so innovative,” the camp’s founder Sandra Collins told the AP. “I didn’t know you could be transgender at a very young age. But my daughter knew for sure at 2,” she said, crediting her daughter as inspiration for starting the camp. Collins has also founded “Camp Kickin’ It” for transgender kids ages 13-17.
Kids have traveled from all over the U.S. and even as far as Africa to attend the camp. Rainbow Day Camp hopes to open another space in Colorado in summer 2018. Other organizations are allegedly interested as well, including children’s camps in Seattle, Louisiana, and Atlanta.
“Once she could talk, I don’t remember a time when she didn’t say, ‘I’m a girl,’” camper Gracie Maxwell’s mother Molly Maxwell told the AP. The Maxwells said that living in a more liberal minded area of the country made it easier to embrace Gracie’s new identity. They let him dress like a girl, grow his hair out, and change his name. They also found a transgender play group for him to join. “I see her now, compared to before. I watch her strut around and dance and sing and the way she talks about herself,” Molly said. “If she was forced to be someone else … I don’t even want to think about that.”
There’s “a lot more openness to the understanding that trans adults start as trans kids,” the medical director of the Center for Transyouth Health and Development at Children’s Hospital, Olson-Kennedy, told the AP. She started the hospital’s program ten years ago with approximately 40 patients, and said that it now has over 900 people between 3-25 years old.
She doesn’t think a child can be too young to know his or her gender and has expressed concern over the fact that “about 50 percent of trans youth have attempted suicide by the time they’re age 20” according to her research.
There are currently 150 people on the Transyouth Health hospital’s waiting list.
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