Raising a child who doesn’t conform to gender roles is a minefield for even the most supportive parents. How do you let your children be themselves while also protecting them from bullies? That question led a number of parents, who met through a therapy group for gender-variant children, to organize an annual four-day camp in the wilderness for their kids. Photographer Lindsay Morris began attending the camp in 2007. Over several years, she took pictures of the children and their families to document their experiences. Now a selection of this work has been published in the new book You Are You.
The camp serves about 30 families with children ages 6 to 12, who gather in different rural settings around the country each year. Almost all the children are biological boys who like to wear girls’ clothing. The kids in Morris’ photographs fall across the gender spectrum. But they are too young to know which category they will grow into–if they fit into a category at all. Some will grow up to be transgender, while others will become gender-conforming adults. Still more may decide to embrace a fluid concept of gender. “Living with ambiguity can be very hard,” writes one of the parents in a reflection in the book. The beauty of the camp is that it allows the kids to live comfortably in the middle, a difficult space to occupy during the rest of the year.
Morris hopes her work will help gender-creative kids and their families realize they are not alone. Along with the photographs, she includes a list of helpful children’s books and support organizations. But the book’s greatest value may be in showing the joy of children who are allowed the simple freedom to be themselves.
This appears in the March 30, 2015 issue of TIME.
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