Summer Camp Embraces Young Transgender Kids

Summer Camp Embraces Young Transgender Kids

(7 Aug 2017) AT RAINBOW DAY CAMP, KIDS SING SONGS, PLAY BALL, MAKE ART AND DO WACKY RELAY RACES.
BUT WHAT MAKES THIS SUMMER PROGRAM UNIQUE IS THE CAMPERS IT SERVES: TRANSGENDER CHILDREN – SOME AS YOUNG AS 4 YEARS OLD.
IT’S A PLACE WHERE THEY CAN USE THE PRONOUN OF THEIR CHOICE AND MEET OTHER TRANSGENDER KIDS AND ADULTS, INCLUDING MANY OF THE CAMP COUNSELORS.
SOUNDBITE: Andrew Kramer, Rainbow Day Camp Director
“They’re following their creative interests and they don’t have the added stress or weight of being othered. They get to be their most authentic selves and build community with others who understand the same life experiences.”
SOUNDBITE: James Kaplan, Rainbow Day Camp camper
“People aren’t like ‘Oh.’ They’re like ‘OK, that’s cool,’ and then we just move on.”
SANDRA COLLINS, A FORMER COLLEGE PROFESSOR, STARTED THE PROGRAM TWO YEARS AGO AFTER SHE STRUGGLED TO FIND A CAMP WHERE HER TRANSGENDER DAUGHTER WOULD FEEL COMFORTABLE.
SOUNDBITE: Sandra Collins, Rainbow Day Camp Founder
“I used to say that the camp began out of sadness because of this experience. But a friend encouraged me to reframe it by saying the camp began out of love, out of trying to create a safe space for my daughter and then other kids who were like her.”
ENROLLMENT HAS SINCE TRIPLED TO 60 CAMPERS FROM CALIFORNIA AND BEYOND.
SOUNDBITE: Scarlett Reinhold, Camp director’s daughter
“I feel comfortable for being who I am and who I want to be.”
EXPERTS SAY THE CAMP’S GROWTH MIRRORS THE SHARP INCREASE IN TRANSGENDER CHILDREN ACROSS THE COUNTRY.
SOUNDBITE: Diane Ehrensaft, UCSF Child and Adolescent Gender Center Clinic
“We’re definitely seeing more kids, many more kids, socially transitioning at very young ages, and the reason we’re seeing them more is because we’re looking for them and letting them be found.”
FOR CRITICS WHO QUESTION WHETHER PRE-SCHOOL AGE KIDS SHOULD BE ALLOWED TO TRANSITION SO EARLY… DEVELOPMENTAL PSYCHOLOGIST DIANE EHRENSAFT SAYS CHILDREN CAN IDENTIFY THEIR GENDER AT A VERY YOUNG AGE.
SOUNDBITE: Diane Ehrensaft, UCSF Child and Adolescent Gender Center Clinic
“We expect at 2 year old to know ‘I am boy, I am girl.’ So why can’t that also apply to transgender children?”
MOLLY MAXWELL SAYS THAT’S WHAT HAPPENED WHEN HER CHILD WAS A TODDLER.
SOUNDBITE: Molly Maxwell, mother of Rainbow Day camper
“When she learned to talk and have a voice, she was just very insistent that she was not a boy, she was a girl and to call her a girl.”
JAMES KAPLAN’S MOM DOESN’T REGRET ALLOWING HER CHILD TO TRANSITION.
SOUNDBITE: Sara Kaplan, mother of transgender boy
“I had to mourn the loss of my daughter and at the same time welcome my son and get to know him. And as soon as he transitioned, he was happier, he was confident.”
AND BUILDING CONFIDENCE AND COMMUNITY IS WHAT RAINBOW DAY CAMP IS ALL ABOUT.
TERRY CHEA, ASSOCIATED PRESS, EL CERRITO, CALIFORNIA

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