Enrollment in the Rainbow Day Camp, a camp for transgender and “gender fluid” children ages four to 12 in the San Francisco Bay Area, has tripled to about 60 this year.
The camp in El Cerrito is the only one in the world of its kind available to preschoolers, experts say, and as such it draws children from Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., and even Africa, according to the New York Post.
Each day, campers are allowed to make a nametag with the pronoun of their choice. They can choose “she” or “he” or a combination of “she/he.” The child can choose “they” or even no pronoun at all.
For the Maxwells, the camp is one of many ways they helped their child make the transition to a girl.
“Once she could talk, I don’t remember a time when she didn’t say, ‘I’m a girl,’” said Gracie’s mother, Molly Maxwell.
“Then it grew in intensity: ‘I’m a sister. I’m a daughter. I’m a princess,’” Maxwell said. “We would argue with her. She was confused. We were confused.
“I see her now, compared to before. I watch her strut around and dance and sing and the way she talks about herself. If she was forced to be someone else,” Maxwell said. “I don’t even want to think about that.”
Experts say that more and more young people are coming to their clinics to identify as transgender. Specialists help transgender children “socially transition” to live as their chosen gender until they’re old enough to decide on medical options.
“I just think there’s a lot more openness to the understanding that trans adults start as trans kids,” said Johanna Olson-Kennedy, the medical director for the Center for Transyouth Health and Development at Children’s Hospital in Los Angeles.
“When people say, ‘Isn’t this too young?’ my question back to them is, ‘Too young for what? How young do people know their gender?’ The answer to that is some people know it at 3 and some people know it at 30.”