Rainbow Day Camp is located in El Cerrito, California, and the success of their program may lead to a second location opening in Colorado. The camp welcomes transgender and gender-fluid kids between the ages of four and 12, and it just sounds like a lovely place.
The Associated Press interviewed parents, campers, and counselors about the importance of a place like Rainbow Day Camp and the resulting piece is touching. The camp opened three years ago, and enrollment has tripled since that first summer. Families have been flying their kids into San Francisco just to attend, including some international families.
It is becoming more and more common for children to express their gender identity at a much younger age as awareness of what it means to be transgender spreads. Several parents told the AP that their kids began to express their gender as soon as they could speak:
“Once she could talk, I don’t remember a time when she didn’t say, ‘I’m a girl,’” said her mother, Molly Maxwell, who still trips over pronouns but tries to stick to “she.”
“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.”
The Maxwells live in the area, which is known for liberal, and were able to find support groups and play groups for their daughter, Gracie. By the time she was four, they’d allowed her to change her name and grow out her hair. The camp’s founder, Sandra Collins, says her daughter knew she was trans at two. She says one day Rainbow Day Camp “won’t be so innovative,” because its success reflects a need.
A number of the counselors are trans, and are invested in modeling a happy adulthood as a transgender person for the kids. Every morning campers make name tags with their preferred gender pronoun on it, and it can change day to day. Johanna Olson-Kennedy, the clinic’s medical director, says that the conversation about transgender people often excludes children:
“I just think there’s a lot more openness to the understanding that trans adults start as trans kids,” 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.”
The Colorado branch is being planned for next summer, but they’ve been contacted by organizations in Atlanta, Seattle, Louisiana who want to figure out to set up programs like Rainbow Day Camp’s. There are some good places in the world and you can read more about this one here.