A transgender camp for kids was recently featured on a TLC documentary titled Transgender Kids Camp. The one-hour documentary aired on Wednesday and followed another transgender documentary on TLC, Transgender Kids. Both documentaries featured stories of children who knew at a young age they were transgender. However, Transgender Kids Camp only focused on boys who attend the transgender camp for kids called Camp “You Are You” located somewhere in the Midwest.
BuzzFeed shared a story on the transgender camp for kids and the TLC documentary on the same day it aired. On June 1, BuzzFeed wrote that a film crew was allowed into Camp “You Are You” for the very first time to follow the lives of several families with transgender boys as they attend summer camp. The transgender camp for kids isn’t just for LGBT kids. According to BuzzFeed, parents are just as involved at Camp “You Are You” as the kids are.
The name and exact location of the transgender camp for kids were changed for the documentary to protect the privacy of the transgender kids and the families involved. 2Paragraphs shared that the TLC documentary actually followed around a group of four transgender girls who were born boys at birth, but it really only focuses on one transgender girl named Ryan. Ryan is the 13-year-old transgender daughter to parents’ Sabrina and Chris. Sabrina is reportedly the driving force behind Camp “You Are You” and started the camp eight years ago as a way for Ryan to meet other transgender kids.
Sabrina, 46, told People Magazine that starting the transgender camp for kids has been impactful for Ryan to see that she’s not alone. According to Sabrina, Ryan is now completely transitioned, but she began identifying as a female at 3-years-old and started dressing like a girl in kindergarten.
“Ryan was certain that there was no one like her on the planet — she was shocked.”
Sabrina went on to say that some of the kids who attend the transgender camp aren’t completely transitioned and are scared, but they end up leaving Camp “You Are You” at the end of the week proud and ready to present to the world as transgender. Sabrina’s husband, Chris, 57, agrees, saying that kids come as camp starts “shy and timid,” but by the end of camp on Saturday night, the transformation in them is “incredible.”
“You have to see it to believe it,” said Chris.
Director Nick Sweeney captured a lot of what goes on at the transgender camp for kids for the documentary that aired on TLC on Wednesday. Camp “You Are You” is just like any other summer camp with a lake, an obstacle course, and campfires. Transgender Kids Camp gave viewers a glimpse of some of the workshops for parents, pool parties, ice breakers, and other activities that go on at Camp “You Are You” over the course of about a week. The last night of the transgender camp for kids ends with a fashion show called “Free to Be Me.”
According to Ryan, the fashion show is the main event of Camp “You Are You.”
“It’s different than just wearing feminine clothes every day at school. It’s full-on, blow-out, gung-ho wearing dresses and really magical. I saw all of the makeup and the nail polish and dresses — the holy grail, basically. I was just like, ‘I will use every single one of these. I’m going to look pretty! I’m going to look the best!’ But I actually looked like a train wreck because I did all my makeup myself. It was fun though, and I indulged myself in all those amazing items that were there for me.”
Sabrina said she hoped the TLC documentary would make people more accepting of transgender kids who use the transgender camp for kids as a way to fully express themselves without fear of being scrutinized. Sabrina went on to say that parents of the transgender kids usually stay in contact with her throughout the year even after camp has ended just to seek guidance and air anxieties. According to the documentary’s director, Nick Sweeney, acceptance and understanding from parents make a huge difference in the lives of transgender kids.
Parents of transgender kids who say their lives will never be the same are now left wondering where they can find Camp “You Are You,” which is reportedly located somewhere in the Midwest. However, 2Paragraphs shared the locations of another popular transgender camp for kids called Camp Aranu’tiq that’s been in operation since 2009. With two camp locations, one in Southern California and one in New Hampshire, Camp Aranu’tiq offers summer camp sessions for entire families with transgender kids ages eight to 18.
ABC News reported in 2013 that Camp “You Are You” actually changes locations based on where parents can rent space from retreat centers since the camp was begun by parents. According to ABC News, the transgender camp for kids is so informal that it moves from one part of the country to another and is mainly run by religious groups. Photographer Lindsay Morris from New York actually nicknamed the camp “You Are You” after documenting the transgender camp for kids for the last three years.
[Image via carballo/Shutterstock]