This Gender Non-Comforming Summer Camp Is Pretty Incredible

August 10th 2015

Summer camp is a rite of passage for many. For gender non-conforming kids, however, the structure of summer camp might present challenges for gender fluid individuals. That's why a parent-run camp is dedicated to promoting gender fluidity by allowing campers to dress however they please, among other things, to elevate gender fluid children.

Photographer Lindsay Morris has been taking snapshots of the campers for years and even shared some of her work in the New York Times a few years ago. She has also compiled these pictures into a book and is preparing for her upcoming debut solo show in New York City. Even so, she has committed to keeping the camp name and its campers anonymous, a safety move that reflects the reality that trans people are more likely to experience physical violence in America.

“It was through this experience and several others that the parents came to the consensus that only through visibility was the conversation going to move forward,” she said in an interview with the Huffington Post. “Children are affected by anti-gay prejudice and adults have a responsibility to address it. They have this innate ability and eagerness to have honest conversations, and when these discussions are presented in a non-judgmental fashion, the children benefit.”

Why gender fluid safe spaces are necessary

The Huffington Post describes the camp as a "haven devoid of the unexpected prejudices that can arise at school and in everyday life outside of the house."

Not all environments are so accepting of gender non-conforming children. Earlier this year, a gender fluid Albuquerque teen named Xavier Gonzalez claimed his school principal would not allow him to wear a dress to a dance.

"It took me a long time to be able to figure out what I wanted," he told Kob 4. "I'm still figuring it out. But for now, I'm gender fluid until I can figure out what I want to be for my whole life... He had told me that if I went to the dance in a dress it would make a mockery of the dance and his school."

Though a school spokesperson said Xavier was never threatened with punishment for donning a dress to the dance, the teen said he was, in fact, warned not to do it.

"It makes sense that a school district would want to protect their principal, but at the same time, you have to be truthful about what actually happened," he said.

Also this year, a trans high school student named Gavin Grimm sued a Virginia school board through the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), arguing his school forces trans students to use "alternative" restrooms.

“[The] policy is deeply stigmatizing and needlessly cruel,” Joshua Block, an ACLU lawyer who filed the lawsuit, told the Washington Post. “Any student, transgender or not, should be free to use single-stall restrooms if they want extra privacy. Instead of protecting the privacy of all students, the School Board has chosen to single out transgender students as unfit to use the same restrooms as everyone else.”

Grimm expressed feeling humiliated as a result of the school's policy.

“I just want to use the restroom in peace,” Gavin said in a statement. “Since the school board passed this policy, I feel singled out and humiliated every time I need to use the restroom.”

This summer, "Orange is the New Black" star Ruby Rose said in an interview with Elle magazine that she identifies as gender fluid.

"Gender fluidity is not really feeling like you're at one end of the spectrum or the other," Rose said. "For the most part, I definitely don't identify as any gender. I'm not a guy; I don't really feel like a woman, but obviously I was born one. So, I'm somewhere in the middle, which -- in my perfect imagination -- is like having the best of both sexes. I have a lot of characteristics that would normally be present in a guy and then less that would be present in a woman. But then sometimes I'll put on a skirt -- like today."

Last year, Rose tackled gender fluidity for a video titled "Break Free" in which she gets rid of her feminine look in favor of a more masculine appearance.

When the video was released, Rose issued a statement on Facebook about gender and sexual fluidity:

"You know what needs to stop just as much as homophobia, bullying within the LGBT Community... A 'bisexual' isn't just greedy.. 'Pansexual' exists and isn't a cop out.. 'Straight' people can be gay huge advocates and blessings to the community... you can identify as trans without surgery, you can be gender fluid... in fact guess what... you can be whoever you are and like whoever you like and WE should spread the love and acceptance we constantly say we don't receive."

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