In some ways, Rainbow Day Camp is an ordinary summer camp. Kids arrive with a packed lunch, make friendship bracelets, play basketball, sing songs and get silly. But it is also unique, from the moment campers arrive each morning.
At check-in each day, campers make a nametag with their pronoun of choice. Some opt for “she” or “he.” Or a combination of “she/he.” Or “they,” or no pronoun at all. Some change their name or pronouns daily, to see what feels right.
The camp in the San Francisco Bay Area city of El Cerrito caters to transgender and “gender fluid” children ages 4 to 12, making it one of the only camps of its kind in the world open to preschoolers, experts say. Enrollment has tripled to about 60 young campers since it opened three summers ago, with kids coming from as far as Los Angeles, Washington, D.C. – even Africa. Plans are underway to open a branch next summer in Colorado, and the camp has been contacted by parents and organizations in Atlanta, Seattle, Louisiana and elsewhere interested in setting up similar programs.
“I didn’t know you could be transgender at a very young age,” said the founder of the camp to the AP. “But my daughter knew for sure at 2.”
Before commenting, be advised that skepticism qualifies as a thought-crime under Section 317 of the Online Penal Code.
Gender specialists say the camp’s growth reflects what they are seeing in gender clinics nationwide: increasing numbers of children coming out as transgender at young ages. They credit the rise to greater openness and awareness of LGBT issues and parents tuning in earlier when a child shows signs of gender dysphoria, or distress about their gender…
“I just think there’s a lot more openness to the understanding that trans adults start as trans kids,” [clinician Johanna] Olson-Kennedy said. “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.”
Diane Ehrensaft, director of mental health at the University of California, San Francisco’s Child and Adolescent Gender Center, says enrollment there has tripled over the past few years with a “sea change – maybe we can even call it a tsunami – in the number of little kids showing up with their families.”
For an older kid with gender dysphoria, the camp might be a refuge. Fitting in as a teenager is hard enough when you’re not dealing with trans issues on top of it. I wonder how many parents of four-year-olds, though, are so chill with their child’s insistence that they’re of the other gender that they’d place them in an environment that risks reinforcing that belief. Most parents, I suspect, would assume it’s a “phase” that’ll blow over as the kid gets older; not all would actively discourage it but I bet most wouldn’t encourage it for fear that the phase would become permanent. That’s the unspoken underlying issue — most parents don’t want their kids to be trans and find it bizarre that others would expose an impressionable younger child to an experience that might affect something as basic as their sense of gender while it’s still developing. But such things mustn’t be acknowledged publicly in professional society. If they are, Lena Dunham might hunt you down and use you as fodder for her latest woke publicity stunt.
Anyway. Objections to thoughtcrimes will continue to be registered anonymously at the ballot box, as they were last fall.