Last Wednesday and Thursday, Millersville’s Gender and Sexuality Alliance hosted their first Trans Closet Swap in the SMC MPR. It was an inclusive, safe event for trans students to find free clothing that matched their gender identity without fear of being judged or ridiculed.
“I think events like this are important because it’s not always possible for [trans students] to go out and buy clothing that match their gender identity,” current secretary and president-elect of the club next semester, Karli Allen, said. “It can be unsafe, so it’s a lot easier for people to come here, fill a bag, and go home.”
It’s an issue that the majority of students never have to think or worry about; normally when someone needs new clothes, it’s as simple as a small trip to a local store. But, according to Allen, for trans students, it is nowhere near simplistic.
“Gender identity is something that a lot of people don’t understand. For trans people, it can be kind of dangerous, if they look more feminine but wish to be more masculine, to go and buy masculine clothing because people don’t understand the transgender community. It puts them in a dangerous and unsafe area.”
To contrast, Allen made it clear that this was a safe area. “We don’t even look what’s in your bag. Take what you want, take for friends, for whoever. It’s pretty anonymous and safe.”
While the event is first and foremost meant for trans students, it was opened up to the rest of campus as well. As college students, the financial means to buy the kinds of clothes needed can also be difficult.
Allen continues on this, saying “We opened it up to everybody because economic times can be hard. If you want nice clothes, you should be able to have nice clothes. They can take as much as they want, it’s totally free.”
All of this was possible because of students around Millersville’s campus who were willing to donate to the cause. “It’s all donations we’ve gotten from the campus. We did a clothing drive last fall for Transgender Awareness Week where you would just drop clothes off in front of the CSIL center in front of our office and our office was filled with bags. We sorted through the bags and got rid of the dirty and ripped stuff and kept all the stuff that was usable. This is the closet swap that resulted because of that.”
Although this is only the GSA’s first Trans Closet Swap, Allen says proudly that it will not be their last. “We’re going to try to have this once a year because it was so popular. The whole room was filled yesterday and we had a bunch of clothing taken, so it’s been pretty great.”
To learn more about the GSA and how to help the community, their meetings are open for everyone to attend. Currently, they meet in the SMC Room 18 from 8 to 10 p.m. every Wednesday.