On our cover this month is a photo of a young boy at an annual weekend camp (the camp isn't named to protect the privacy of the participants), where gender-nonconforming children can freely express themselves alongside their parents and siblings. Here the boy wears a long dress and simulates having long hair by draping a tea towel over his head. At the camp, the children may don wigs, high heels, makeup, and tiaras without the fear of being bullied or discriminated against.
The photo was taken by Lindsay Morris and is part of a photo-essay that Morris has been working on for the past three years. “I intend for the essay to serve as a guidepost for parents and the general public who struggle with their own uncertainties and prejudices with regard to the gender unique population,” Morris says. One of the photos from this project was recently featured on the cover of the New York Times Magazine, and several others can be viewed as a slide show on the magazine's Web site under the title, “A Weekend at Camp for Gender-Variant Children” (go to http://nyti.ms/18ldBmE).
The number of children who identify as transgender may be difficult to estimate, but it is known that these children face significant health and social risks. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services HealthyPeople.gov site, transgender individuals are particularly at risk for contracting HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases, being victims of violence, and attempting suicide. And according to the 2011 National School Climate Survey, 64% of middle and high school students identifying as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender reported being harassed in the previous year because of their gender expression. The National Association of School Nurses (NASN) has issued a position statement recommending that school nurses propose school policies to ensure the safety of these students, help them understand their particular health risks, and provide care that meets their needs. To read more about the NASN's stance, and about how nurses can help transgender children and teens, see this month's AJN Reports.—Amy M. Collins, editor