A University of Manitoba recreation professor is organizing drag and gender play workshops for “queer children” with the goal of helping them affirm their “complex gender identities.” 

Dr. Fenton Litwiller, who identifies as “non-binary” and uses “they/them” pronouns, seeks to “create spaces for queer joy” with a gender, youth, sexuality, and play project – which is made possible in part by funding from the Government of Canada.

In an interview with University Affairs magazine, Litwiller said grant money was used to hire drag performers and purchase makeup kits for LGBTQ children – who were then able to start wearing both regular everyday makeup and drag makeup.

“Drag artists mentor queer youth through makeup and movement, to music and costuming,” said Litwiller. “Youth learn how to embody different genders through costuming, and some of them are quite brave, performing with the drag artists.” 

Litwiller also said that “the drag mentors and I have worked hard on our own stuff to make sure that this space is inclusive of all genders.”

The professor’s “explicitly queer space” also allows children to try on clothing of the opposite gender. “For trans youth, genderplay is an opportunity to be real.”

Litwiller also connects children with healthcare workers and organizations who “can support them in the long term.” 

“I think this work has the capacity for social change,” says Litwiller. “Everyone has a gender and a sexuality. We need to get away from binary thinking around gender and sexuality.” 

Litwiller wants the project to become a “curriculum,” saying, “in working with the mentors and in working with the youth, we realized we should make this a longer project.”

While many progressives support the promotion of gender ideology with children, others are pushing back and sharing their opposition and concerns.

Dr. Debra Soh, a neuroscientist who specializes in gender, sex, and sexual orientation, wrote in the Washington Examiner that “although transitioning can help some adults struggling with gender dysphoria, this is not the case for everyone, particularly in the context of children.”

“Due to the larger push for affirmation only and legislation outlawing therapies that are not activist-approved, it has become extremely difficult for clinicians to rule out comorbidity and determine whether a transition is right for a patient,” she added.

Multiple people who underwent gender transitions as youths have since opted to detransition – and are now speaking out about the harms of imposing trans ideology on gender confused youth.

“I don’t want history to repeat itself. I can’t let this happen to other kids,” says detransitioner Chole Cole, who has been vocally speaking out against transitioning minors.

Litwiller is described on the University of Manitoba website as “a leisure scholar who uses qualitative and post-qualitative research methods and critical theories to account for 2SLGBTQ experiences, identities and expressions.”

The professor teaches several courses, including one titled Critical Race Theory, Indigeneity, in Leisure, Recreation, and Sport 

True North asked Litwiller what type of healthcare professionals children will be connected to, as well as if the scholar has anything to say to those who oppose the project. However, Litwiller did not return True North’s request in time for publication.