A trans girl claims she she was barred from volunteering at a faith-based summer camp because of her gender identity, which a counsellor described as a “life choice”.
Elizabeth Clark told WALB that she had attended the first two days of a week-long session at Connect Camps in Cordele, Georgia when her family got texts asking her not to continue attending.
The text, which was reportedly sent to the family by a camp counsellor, read in part: “Our team was advised that Elizabeth had made a life choice that unfortunately is causing some distraction at camp.
“We have agreed it would be best that Elizabeth not return, allowing us the opportunity to meet our promise of a remarkable for the campers.”
Clark said she was “surprised” that “people who were just preaching about love and accepting everybody to come out” would turn around and “tell me it was best that I not return”.
The 14-year-old girl said the message particularly hurt because it used the word “choice” as her gender is a part of her identity.
“If it was a choice, I wouldn’t choose to be a part of the LGBTQ community or be trans because I wouldn’t want to put myself through the struggles that other people don’t have to go through,” Clark said.
Connie Bivens, the counsellor who sent the message, denied that the decision to kick Clark out of the camp had anything to do with her being trans.
Bivens told WALB that she heard girls at the camp talking about Clark in a negative way. She claimed that after talking to other counsellors, it was decided that the camp couldn’t ensure Clark’s safety
“Our choice, our decision was based on: ‘Can we keep her safe and can she have a wonderful time at camp,’” Bivens said. “We felt we couldn’t do that, and it had nothing to do with Lizzie being transgender.”
Bivens said the girls who were talking badly about Clark were also asked to leave the camp. She added that Clark could return to the camp as a participant, but not as a volunteer in a leadership role.
The teen’s mum, LeeAnn Deeabas, said she just wanted to know why her child had been “singled out” instead of the organisation addressing “bad behaviour”.
Clark refused to return to the camp, and she said that it’s not the first time that she’s been alienated because of her trans identity.
“I was told I couldn’t run for homecoming court because I was transgender, they refused to put my pronouns on there and I didn’t get a chance to run,” Clark said. “I know that we’re seen as outcasts and different.”
She continued: “I hope that people will open their eyes and realise we’re just the same as everybody else.
“We bleed red and we’re all human. We deserve the same treatment as anybody else.”