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PostPosted: Mon Jul 03, 2017 4:10 am 
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Transgender doll has been made to teach children about gender identity
By Hattie Gladwell
30 June 2017

The Gender Creative Kids Canada, a non-profit transgender support organisation based in Montreal Quebec, Canada, have created a new toy, named Sam, to help children figure out who they are inside.

Sam is a trans boy who comes as part of a new toy in development, which creators hope will help explain to children what it really means to be transgender. Sam is made up of a series of stacking dolls, with each layer of the toy representing a stage of gender questioning and transitioning.

Gender Creative Kids Canada felt it was important to teach children about gender identity after finding that anywhere between 2-6% of boys and 5-12% of girls struggle to identify or express their gender differently from their binary gender assigned at birth. However, they understood that approaching the subject with children can be both a sensitive subject and a complex one – and so they invented Sam to help make the conversation easier, and to give children who are struggling with their gender identity something to relate to when it comes to the emotional challenges of being born transgender.

The organisation has set up a KickStarter in hopes that people will donate so that they can produce more toys to send off around the world by 2018. Within their KickStarter, they wrote: ‘Most gender-questioning children are born into cultures that don’t accept them. They are often subjected to physical, verbal and sexual harassment leading to feelings of rejection, isolation and confusion. Studies suggest that gender-questioning children who have the support of their family and friends are far less likely to experience depression and feelings that may lead to self-harm and suicide. We knew that for us to have the biggest long-term impact possible we needed to engage the people who will shape the cultural norms of the future: children.’

The organisation states that while Sam is a toy, he is also an educational tool and a symbol of ‘pride, acceptance and understanding’. They hope that the toy will not just be used by children nor parents – but by teachers who also have the opportunity to teach children about gender-diversity and the importance of empathy and kindness.

The organisation has also created a moving video in which can be shown to children, where Sam is brought to life. The film tells the story of Sam and her twin brother. As they grow older, Sam struggled with the emotions that many trans children experience, such as pulling away from family and friends – and in Sam’s case, even her twin. However, the ending is incredibly eye-opening, as it sees Sam realise that her brother wasn’t her twin after all – he was a reflection of who she was destined to be all along.

The film itself portrays an incredibly important message and one that can be better heard through the use of toys, as it gives children the opportunity to gain better understanding before they too are put through years of despair struggling to come to terms with their gender-identity. ‘Transphobia is a global human rights issue,’ it states on the KickStarter page. ‘Our mission is to educate the world about gender identity issues because with education comes understanding, empathy and ultimately, acceptance. The more people that can help spread this message the better.’

According to the KickStarter page, the purchase of the toy works on a pledge basis. For smaller amounts, you can expect your name added to the description of their video, while starting pledges of $75 will ensure a toy is sent to you when they are produced. Each Sam toy features six different dolls inside one another with one heart charm inside the smallest to show that while the outside changes, the inside remains the same. The toy comes with a printed booklet with supporting information to help adults talk to children about gender identity, which those pledging larger amounts will receive, while smaller pledges will receive an e-book version of the booklet that can be viewed online or downloaded at home.

Source: Metro UK

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 08, 2017 11:12 am 
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Transgender camp teaches kids they're 'normal, not alone'
By JOCELYN GECKER
August 7, 2017

EL CERRITO, Calif. (AP) -- In some ways, Rainbow Day Camp is very ordinary. Kids arrive with a packed lunch, make friendship bracelets, play basketball, sing songs and get silly. But it is also unique, from the moment campers arrive each morning.

At check-in each day, campers make a nametag with their pronoun of choice. Some opt for "she" or "he." Or a combination of "she/he." Or "they," or no pronoun at all. Some change their name or pronouns daily, to see what feels right. The camp in the San Francisco Bay Area city of El Cerrito caters to transgender and "gender fluid" children ages 4 to 12, making it one of the only camps of its kind in the world open to preschoolers, experts say. Enrollment has tripled to about 60 young campers since it opened three summers ago, with kids coming from as far as Los Angeles, Washington, D.C. - even Africa. Plans are underway to open a branch next summer in Colorado, and the camp has been contacted by parents and organizations in Atlanta, Seattle, Louisiana and elsewhere interested in setting up similar programs.

On a sunny July morning at camp, the theme was "Crazy Hair Day," and 6-year-old Gracie Maxwell was dancing in the sunshine as a Miley Cyrus song blasted from outdoor speakers. The freckled, blue-eyed blonde wore her hair in a braid on one side, a pigtail on the other and snacked on cereal as she twirled and skipped. "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."

Living in the liberal-minded Bay Area made it easier. The Maxwells found a transgender play group, sought specialists, and at 4 years old, let Gracie grow her hair, dress as a girl and eventually change her name. "I see her now, compared to before. I watch her strut around and dance and sing and the way she talks about herself. If she was forced to be someone else," the mother trails off. "I don't even want to think about that."

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. "A decade ago, this camp wouldn't have existed. Eventually, I do believe, it won't be so innovative," camp founder Sandra Collins said. "I didn't know you could be transgender at a very young age. But my daughter knew for sure at 2."

Collins' experience as the mother of a transgender girl, now 9, inspired her to start the camp, and another for 13- to 17-year-olds called Camp Kickin' It. "A lot of these kids have been bullied and had trauma at school. This is a world where none of that exists, and they're in the majority," Collins said. "That's a new experience for kids who are used to hiding and feeling small." Fourth-grader Scarlett Reinhold, Collins' daughter who was born a boy, says at camp she can be herself. "I feel comfortable for being who I am and who I want to be," says Scarlett, a confident 9-year-old in a frilly skirt who wears her dark hair long and wavy.

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. 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.

The Center for Transyouth Health and Development at Children's Hospital in Los Angeles, started a decade ago with about 40 patients, now has over 900 people, ages 3 to 25, enrolled in its program, with 150 on its waiting list, said Johanna Olson-Kennedy, the clinic's medical director. "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."

Diane Ehrensaft, director of mental health at the University of California, San Francisco's Child and Adolescent Gender Center, says enrollment there has tripled over the past few years with a "sea change - maybe we can even call it a tsunami - in the number of little kids showing up with their families." She fields a growing number of calls from families overseas, including South Africa, Ethiopia, Hong Kong, Belgium, England and other countries that lack resources.

Studies show transgender adults have higher rates of suicide and depression than the general population. A 2016 study by the University of Washington's TransYouth Project, published in the journal Pediatrics, found trans children who live as their preferred gender and are supported by their parents have the same mental health outcomes as other kids their age.

At Rainbow Day Camp, a therapist is on hand to talk if kids want. Therapy sessions are extended to parents at a support group after morning drop-off. Many counselors are transgender, which offers campers upbeat role models. "I want to show these kids what a confident, happy, successful trans person looks like," said camp director Andrew Kramer, 30, who goes by AK and came out as a transgender man at 26. "We teach them they are normal, deserving of love, and not alone."

One family traveled from Africa to enroll their son in the camp for its full three-week summer session. The 9-year-old goes by the name Nao at Rainbow but has not publicly come out as a transgender girl. The family asked that their last name and the country where they live be kept confidential, fearing repercussions there. Nao's mother, Miriam, said she watched her child blossom at camp. Nao was happier and less prone to outbursts, made friends, opened up about school bullying, and wants to return next summer. "I think for the first time, (Nao) feels like just a normal kid," Miriam said. Before flying home, she said, Nao wrote a note to the camp's counselors. It read: "Thank you, for making me feel so happy."

Source: AP

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