This is a documentary about an American summer camp for trans kids organized by a group of their parents. Three families that go to camp are interviewed, and some of the camp activities are shown. The kids are all boys who want to be girls. What I found very notable was the constant sex stereotypes on display. “Girls” are apparently anybody who likes pink and sparkly things.
In this post I will use whatever name is used most often for the child in the film and the pronouns that correspond to their biological sex.
The first parents who are interviewed are Sabrina and Chris. They have a son named Ryan who wants to be a girl. Sabrina, says:
“Around 2 years old, we started noticing that Ryan liked pink and sparkles, and we thought that was sort of strange.” Husband Chris is then quoted saying “After a few months, realizing this isn’t some phase, my wife started researching it online and discovered this whole community of parents with children that identified as transgender even at an early age.”
The film’s narrator says “At the age of 3, Ryan’s parents finally accepted that their child is transgender.”
Ryan says: “My family didn’t understand me, because one time my grandma got me a Spiderman and Batman shirt, and I’m like, I don’t want it, and she’s like “you like them,” I’m like “no I don’t.”
After this interview, I was shocked at the fact that these parents openly admitted to finding it strange that a boy would like pink and sparkles, and that they had decided to believe their male child was a “girl” when he was only 3. What an outrageous decision to make for a toddler! A child who has a vocabulary of 200 words cannot possibly “identify as transgender.” Such a young person cannot even understand the concept.
The scene changes to the family getting ready for camp. The film’s narrator says, “Unlike many boys their age, the transgender children attending camp like dressing up as princesses and getting makeovers.”
The family is shown in a store buying supplies for camp: glitter paint, princess tiaras, and feather boas.
Sabrina says, “We have half the families coming who are new, and half who are veteran. And they walk in and they see this table full of things that they feel comfortable with, that speaks to them.”
Sabrina is shown in the store again, buying “beads and fairy dust.”
Apparently, the things that “speak to” transgender MtF children are glitter, tiaras, boas, and beads. Those particular dollar store consumer products are what make them feel comfortable as human beings. I used to go to camp when I was a little girl, and strangely, I didn’t require any of these items.
When the next family is interviewed, an 11-year-old child with long hair is displaying his makeup collection. He says: “So this is my dressing table. This is all my makeup which I use on a daily basis. Just mascara, a small amount of eyeliner and a little bit of blush sometimes.”
He is then shown in a mirror brushing his hair. The narrator explains that he “began living as a girl at the age of 2.” This boy, named “Maxi,” apparently had a visible “alternative gender identity” according to his mom, right from a young age. Mom says that Maxi was distressed when he went to school because everything was separated by “gender” and he went to sleep at night praying to become a girl.
The family is shown eating breakfast, and the other kids in the family discuss how they deal with having a brother who is pretending to be a girl. His younger sister tells lies about him having a twin, and his older brother worries about bullying and rumours.
Maxi is interviewed in his bedroom, surrounded by stereotypical girls’ toys and wearing a dress with see-through black mesh in the middle. Between the revealing dress and the makeup at age 11 I’m shocked at the over-sexualization. It’s not appropriate for an 11-year-old girl to dress like that, so I’m not sure why a boy needs to either.
And what on Earth does it mean to be “living as a girl” at age 2? Does this mean his parents wrapped him in a pink blanket? A two-year-old can’t possibly “live as” anything other than a 2-year-old child. The only thing to change about a two-year-old’s life to make him a “girl” is to buy pink consumer products for him instead of blue ones. Apparently a child’s sex is determined by which marketing campaign most appeals to him.
The documentary moves to camp, and talks about how these young boys can “finally feel free.” The narrator says “At camp, the transgender children and their families can play as they wish. But it often seems to revolve around one thing—lipstick….” Cut to pictures of little boys putting on lipstick. The narrator continues, “The camp’s activities include swimming, dressing up, and arts and crafts, all building up to the big event at the end of the week, the fashion show.”
Another child is interviewed, 8-year-old “Lindsay,” who has made his own dress. Lindsay says “It might represent Katy Perry pretending to be Pocahontas because it’s unique.” Lindsay talks about loving to sing and perform. Video footage is shown of Lindsay as a toddler, announcing that he’s a girl. He obviously has feminine mannerisms as a part of his personality. The way he moves is what I would call “flamboyant.” I completely support the idea that human beings are born with a personality that includes a certain degree of masculinity or femininity, but this does not somehow erase or cancel out a person’s sex, and there is no such thing as your degree of femininity being wrong for your body. Anyone can have any personality.
The parents have an opportunity to talk among themselves while their kids are doing camp activities. They are shown sitting in a circle and discussing their fears about their kids. The health effects of medical transition, future sterility, and their kids’ suicidal thoughts are on their minds. They seem to want what’s best for their kids.
Maxi is on puberty blockers already. His family is paying $1000 per shot for them. His mom is shown injecting him and she seems upset about it, but she doesn’t feel like she has any choice. She says “At the end of the day I have a happy child.” Right after injecting him, Maxi says: “I have this dream of my husband like taking care of me and he’s like kissing me every second.”
Then his mother talks about his femininity “It’s not always about being fabulous and beautiful and sparkly and terrific for you, it’s about being nurturing and having that kind of receptive feminine energy.”
Maxi says “Yeah, if I only cared about being extremely girly and being sparkly and outfits and everything, then I would be a gay man. But there’s this feeling inside you that you can really tell for sure, saying like “girl, girl, girl, girl, this is you who are” you know?”
This is another interview that leaves me absolutely shocked. It’s clear that both Maxi and his mother know that he is gay. He openly admits that a boy who likes being girly will grow up to be a gay man. He has fantasies about his future husband. His very flimsy excuse for why he is not gay is because he has a “feeling inside” that he is a “girl.” He has internalized homophobia around being a feminine gay boy. His mother seems so well-intentioned but she is failing to help her son get over his internalized homophobia and instead is injecting him with extremely expensive puberty blockers so that he will grow up to be a feminized, sterilized gay man with underdeveloped genitals, rather than a regular, normally-developed man. She is doing this because her child insists upon it. Apparently, a preteen with internalized homophobia is more qualified to make major medical decisions that will have an effect on his whole life than a responsible adult who has done research about the likely outcomes. I used to make flimsy excuses for why I wasn’t gay, too. Don’t we all do that when we’re scared kids?
Maxi’s dad makes the incredibly ironic comment that it’s easier to come out as gay than to come out as trans. It’s obviously not easy to come out as gay, LOOK AT WHAT IS HAPPENING TO YOUR GAY KID.
The most popular event of camp is the fashion show. They do their makeup and nails, put on fancy dresses, perform flamboyant poses on stage, and blow kisses to the crowd, while upbeat pop music plays. They are an adorable group of baby drag queens.
Even though the parents discuss their concerns about their kids’ future, and question whether they are doing the right thing, at no point is it ever mentioned that most kids with childhood gender dysphoria will desist and will turn out to be gay. There is a big, gay elephant in the room that is being erased from this picture. The parents seem concerned about their kids’ future fertility and their safety, (which they should be), but they never mention any concern about whether their kids might be happier as adults being regular gay men rather than surgically modified “women.” Is this because they are just not concerned about such a possibility or are they completely unaware of it because no gender specialist nor information package about transgenderism has ever told them? Either possibility is horrifying. There is a complete lack of concern about the possibility of children who will likely grow up to be happy gay adults being mistakenly puberty-blocked, sterilized, and permanently medically altered while they are still minors, just because it is popular these days to label a girly boy a “trans girl” and it’s forbidden to doubt this diagnosis.
I remember hearing an acquaintance remark that she knew her child was gay at age 3, and this seemed funny to me because how could a three-year-old possibly have any sexual attraction? But I think I know what she meant. Kids already have observable, unique personalities right from a young age, and their mannerisms are apparent even as toddlers. You can observe a boy’s feminine mannerisms at age 3 and guess that they indicate he will grow up to be gay. You won’t necessarily be correct, because it’s possible for someone straight or bisexual to have feminine mannerisms too. But my point is that parents used to look at their little girly boys and realize they were probably gay, and now they observe the same thing about their sons but instead label them “trans girls.” I have a suspicion that a lot of these parents actually know their sons are gay.
What I learned from watching this documentary is that the definition of a “girl” is “any child who likes pink and sparkly things, wears dresses, likes to put on lipstick, and wants to sing like Katy Perry while dancing with a feather boa.” Oh, and they have “receptive feminine energy.” (Could that comment possibly have been any more creepy coming from a mom?)
By this definition of “girl,” of course, a lot of actual females aren’t “girls.”
I also learned that today’s parents are so ridiculously, ludicrously, nauseatingly sexist that they think if their little boy likes pink and sparkly things, they need to drastically alter the course of his life because they cannot fathom that these are things that boys can like. For these sexist parents, it’s so unthinkable that their boy could put on a dress and sing a song as a boy, that they have to drive across the country to attend a special camp where everyone will pretend he’s a girl, to make it okay for him to wear a dress and sing a song.
I have a much better idea than all this. And my idea is so bloody simple that I can’t fathom why these parents can’t come up with it, too. My idea is: accept your son as he is. You have a little girly-boy baby drag queen, who will probably grow up to be gay, and that’s okay. When he likes pink and sparkly things, it’s no big deal. It’s fine. Let him dance and sing to Katy Perry. Let him dream about his future husband. Tell him it’s okay to be gay. When he says he’s a girl, tell him no, boys aren’t girls, but you can be any kind of boy you want to be. You can be a boy who likes princess tiaras and sewing your own dresses. We love you no matter what. Taking him to a camp to meet other girly boys is a fabulous idea, but don’t tell the kids they are really girls. Tell them it’s okay to be a boy like that, and that they’re not alone. Let them make friends with other boys who are like them. Help them grow into happy gay adults. Right in the goddamn DSM that’s what it says is the most likely outcome for these kids. (As long as they survive childhood without being sterilized, of course.)