15 Photos Reveal The Joy Of Gender-Nonconforming Children At Summer Camp

This article was originally published on September 25, 2015.
For the past eight summers, Lindsay Morris has photographed gender-nonconforming children and their families as they attend a four-day camp. When asked why she chose You Are You as the title of this project, Morris says it "just made sense." We happen to agree. This camp, which will remain nameless for privacy, was created to provide kids with a safe space to explore their gender identity with their families' support. Here, the children can be who they want to be — themselves — without fear of judgment.
At first, Morris took these photos just for the families' personal use, until it dawned on her (and the children's parents) how much good they could do if shown to the public: "The parents share a common belief that only through visibility are we likely to move the conversation [about gender-variant children] forward," she explains. What makes these photos so moving, however, is how relatable they are. They depict familiar, even nostalgia-inducing, scenes of an idyllic summer camp where kids can swim, play dress-up, and not have to worry about how people see them.
Morris shared one parent's story with us over email. This mother, writing to Morris to thank her for her work, said that her transgender daughter has made incredible strides in self-acceptance and self-advocacy after participating in the camp:
Your project was the first step for [name withheld] in developing trans pride. Before that, she hid herself. Since she agreed to participate in your project...she has been photographed, interviewed, and has taken steps to be quite an insightful and vocal advocate... She is proud of who she is today.
Like any with any summer camp, "the last day of camp comes too soon," Morris explains, noting that while it's always a bittersweet goodbye, it's easy to find something to look forward to. "Everyone's a little tired and definitely sad, but it's gratifying to see a confidence boost in some of the newer or younger children in such a short span of time... And of course, there's always talk of next summer."
You can purchase the book version of You Are You here. Click through for more photos and to read more about how these children find themselves at camp.

More from Spirit

R29 Original Series