Preschoolers Attend Summer Camp for Transgender Children

A San Francisco Bay Area summer camp that specializes in transgender and “gender fluid” children is now accepting campers as young as four years old.

The Rainbow Day Camp in El Cerrito accepts children from ages 4 to 12, with some campers coming from places as far as Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., and Africa, the Associated Press (AP) reports.

According to the report, the camp has tripled its enrollment to 60 campers since it opened three years ago. A new branch is also expected to open in Colorado next summer, with interest in additional camps coming from other areas in the United States as well.

Molly Maxwell’s child attends Rainbow Day Camp. The mother of a six-year-old boy who believes he is a girl, Maxwell reportedly told AP, “Once she could talk, I don’t remember a time when she didn’t say, ‘I’m a girl.’”

“Then it grew in intensity: ‘I’m a sister. I’m a daughter. I’m a princess,’” she continued. “We would argue with her. She was confused. We were confused.”

The boy’s parents eventually found a transgender play group in the Bay Area and allowed their child, who is called Gracie, grow his hair, dress in female clothing, and change his name.

“I see her now, compared to before,” Maxwell said. “I watch her strut around and dance and sing and the way she talks about herself. If she was forced to be someone else. I don’t even want to think about that.”

The report continues:

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.

The founder of the Rainbow Day Camp, Sandra Collins, said her own daughter was transgender at two years old.

“A decade ago, this camp wouldn’t have existed,” she said. “Eventually, I do believe, it won’t be so innovative.”

Collins has also launched another camp for 13- to 17-year-old transgender teens called Camp Kickin’ It.

“A lot of these kids have been bullied and had trauma at school,” she said. “This is a world where none of that exists and they’re in the majority. That’s a new experience for kids who are used to hiding and feeling small.”

When the young campers arrive each day, they are asked to make a nametag with their pronoun of choice for the day, some choosing simply “he” or “she,” while others opt for “she/he,” “they,” or none of the above. Children are encouraged to change their pronoun of choice each day, according to “what feels right,” says the report.

AP observes:

The favored protocol today is known as the ‘gender affirmative’ approach, which focuses on identifying and helping transgender children to ‘socially transition’ – to live as the gender they identify with rather than the one they were born with until they’re old enough to decide on medical options like puberty blockers and later, hormone treatments.

“I just think there’s a lot more openness to the understanding that trans adults start as trans kids,” said Johanna Olson-Kennedy, medical director of 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.”

Diane Ehrensaft, director of mental health at the University of California, San Francisco’s Child and Adolescent Gender Center, told AP enrollment at her facility has tripled over the last several years with a “sea change – maybe we can even call it a tsunami – in the number of little kids showing up with their families.”

Many parents of gender confused children are eager to affirm their children’s confusion as a result of the fear of high rates of depression in suicide that have been reported by pro-transgender rights groups.

However, the reported high rates of suicide among transgender individuals could be related to the underlying mental illness of gender dysphoria – recognized by the American Psychological Association – that remains masked due to the rush to affirm the confusion, even by professional medical organizations.

Over 90 percent of people who commit suicide have a diagnosed mental disorder, and there is no evidence that gender-dysphoric children who commit suicide are any different,” writes Dr. Michelle Cretella, president of the American College of Pediatricians, at the Daily Signal. “Many gender dysphoric children simply need therapy to get to the root of their depression, which very well may be the same problem triggering the gender dysphoria.”

Cretella points to research that demonstrates that, even in Sweden, which is among the countries most accepting of LGBT individuals, adults who undergo sex change surgeries have a suicide rate nearly 20 times greater than that of the general population.

“Clearly, sex reassignment is not the solution to gender dysphoria,” she states.

“According to the DSM-V, as many as 98% of gender confused boys and 88% of gender confused girls eventually accept their biological sex after naturally passing through puberty,” observes the College. “Conditioning children into believing that a lifetime of chemical and surgical impersonation of the opposite sex is normal and healthful is child abuse.”

The AP report notes: “There is little comprehensive data on young children who identify as transgender, but experts say as the number of young people coming to their clinics increases, the prevailing medical guidance has shifted.”

Cretella agrees, noting the drive to affirm transgenders is “intruding into the lives of the most innocent among us – children – and with the apparent growing support of the professional medical community,” even though there is no evidence gender transition procedures are safe.

“Two leading pediatric associations—the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Pediatric Endocrine Society—have followed in lockstep, endorsing the transition affirmation approach even as the latter organization concedes within its own guidelines that the transition-affirming protocol is based on low evidence,” she asserts. “They even admit that the only strong evidence regarding this approach is its potential health risks to children.”

Along with Cretella’s group, the Alliance for Therapeutic Choice, the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, the Christian Medical & Dental Associations, the Catholic Medical Association, and the self-described “left-leaning” pro-LGBT rights association, Youth Gender Professionals – all have weighed in with concerns about forced gender ideology being propagated as a civil rights issue without concern for the well-being of children.

Youth Gender Professionals asserts it is risky to affirm young people who claim to be transgender and provide them with options for hormonal and surgical treatments to change their bodies since these procedures have not been proven safe in the long term.

“Policies that encourage — either directly or indirectly — such medical treatment for young people who may not be able to evaluate the risks and benefits are highly suspect, in our opinion,” says the group, which is composed of psychologists, social workers, doctors, and other professionals.

The organization’s members say they are alarmed that many immature teenagers are deciding they are a member of the opposite sex simply as a result of “binges” on social media sites.

“There is evidence that vulnerable young people are being actively recruited and coached on such sites to believe that they are trans,” the professionals say.

Despite such potential mental health problems associated with gender confusion, children in some states are no longer legally permitted to see a therapist who does not affirm a request for gender transition. Youth Gender Professionals sees such state prohibitions as dangerous since they may block the process of critical thinking and evaluation of the young person regarding the reasons why he or she desires to become a transgender member of the opposite sex.

“While the sentiment behind this legislation is laudable, in some cases, it is being interpreted to mean that therapists cannot explore gender identity with a youth who is professing to be trans,” argue the professionals. “This would mean we can’t ask why; we can’t explore underlying mental health issues; we can’t consider the symbolic nature of the gender dysphoria; and we can’t look at possible confounding issues such as social media use or social contagion.”

However, more medical and research professionals are drawing attention to the serious problems inherent in a phenomenon in which media hype and political debate are overshadowing actual questions about the health and psychological well-being of children, such as concerns about puberty-blocking drugs which often used to delay children’s’ development into adults. Such drugs sterilize children even before they can understand how the deep biological impact of puberty will change their feelings about their awkwardly emerging adult male or female body.

Researchers Paul Hruz, Lawrence Mayer, and Paul McHugh address the problem in a new paper titled “Growing Pains,” published at The New Atlantis.

The authors write:

There is strikingly little scientific understanding of important questions underlying the debates over gender identity — for instance, there is very little scientific evidence explaining why some people identify as the opposite sex, or why childhood expressions of cross-gender identification persist for some individuals and not for others. Yet notwithstanding the limited data, physicians and mental health care providers have arrived at a number of methods for treating children, adolescents, and adults with gender dysphoria.

The researchers observe the dangers of “gender-affirming” therapy in which the therapist accepts, without challenge, the patient’s self-perception as the opposite sex:

Gender-affirming models of treatment are sometimes applied even to very young children. Often, the gender-affirming approach is followed in later youth and adulthood by hormonal and surgical interventions intended to make patients’ appearances align more closely with their gender identity than their biological sex. In order to improve the success of the physical changes, interventions at younger ages are increasingly being recommended.

The authors warn of decisions made to help “affirm” a gender-confused child’s perceived identity, without any connection to scientific fact or research.

“Though there is little systematically collected data on the number of young people (or even the number of adults) who identify as transgender or who have undergone sex-reassignment surgery, there is some evidence that the number of people receiving medical and psychotherapeutic care for gender identity issues is on the rise,” they write.

They explore the use of puberty suppression or blocking, in which a child or young adolescent with gender dysphoria is treated with hormones that prevent the normal progression of puberty.

“For parents of children with gender dysphoria, puberty suppression can appear very attractive,” they observe. “It seems like it might offer a medical solution for the anticipated confusion, anxiety, and distress by holding back the development of the most conspicuous features of their children’s biological sex.”

Nevertheless, the authors conclude the scientific evidence for puberty suppression as treatment for gender dysphoria is “thin,” and “based more on the subjective judgments of clinicians than on rigorous empirical evidence.”

“It is, in this sense, still experimental — yet it is an experiment being conducted in an uncontrolled and unsystematic manner,” they warn.

Walt Heyer is a former transgender who now helps others who have undergone gender transition and now regret their decision. In a column at The Federalist, Heyer takes to task the LGBTQ political lobby who insist on transgender affirmation to prevent suicide of gender-confused young people:

Children are encouraged, affirmed and assisted in “coming out” as transgendered without one word about the consequences of the dangerous game of “gender make-believe.” Today, the politically correct response expected from adults, especially parents, is to affirm the child in the desired gender. But affirmation gives young people false hope that they can really become a different gender. It’s a lie—a lie told with compassionate motives, but a lie nonetheless. Lying is not compassion.

Iconic social and political critic Camille Paglia, a professor who describes herself as “transgender,” also provides her customary bold perspective on the topic of gender ideology in a recent interview with the Weekly Standard:

Although I describe myself as transgender (I was donning flamboyant male costumes from early childhood on), I am highly skeptical about the current transgender wave, which I think has been produced by far more complicated psychological and sociological factors than current gender discourse allows. Furthermore, I condemn the escalating prescription of puberty blockers (whose long-term effects are unknown) for children. I regard this practice as a criminal violation of human rights.

“It is certainly ironic how liberals who posture as defenders of science when it comes to global warming (a sentimental myth unsupported by evidence) flee all reference to biology when it comes to gender,” Paglia adds. “The cold biological truth is that sex changes are impossible. Every single cell of the human body remains coded with one’s birth gender for life. Intersex ambiguities can occur, but they are developmental anomalies that represent a tiny proportion of all human births.”

While Americans have built their laws and civic rules around this biological fact because they want to help balance the competing and complementary needs of the two equal, but different, sexes, “gender fluid ideology” insists that a person’s biological sex is legally less important than their unverifiable “gender identity.” Additionally, the ideology insists that other Americans must agree that men can be women, and women can be men, depending on their hidden “gender identity.”

According to a study of the 2010 census, a very small proportion of Americans attempts to live as members of the opposite sex. Only about 1-in-2,400 Americans, for example, have changed their names from one sex to the other.


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