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American colleges are opening up ‘clothing closets’ for trans students

The goal is to provide a safe place for trans and non-binary students to shop without judgement

Across the U.S, several colleges have opened up ‘Trans Closets’, a free service open to all transgender, transitioning and non-binary students to shop for clothes.

The service aims to help those struggling with the financial burdens of transitioning or coming out, and many whose families have opted out of supporting them. A study made by the Point Foundation uncovered 80 per cent of students in the LGBTQ community pay for school fees themselves. Clothing will be donated by fellow students and the local community.

Schools including University of California, Santa Cruz, Pennsylvania State University, and West Virginia Marshall University are participating in the inclusive clothing drive.

The private, judgement-free space opens at Marshall weekdays and is fully-stocked with second-hand items organised by season and style. Everything from swimwear to chest binders, formal and casual clothing, shoes, jewellery, perfume and more will be available.

The idea was inspired by the Transgender Resource Centre of New Mexico, which has been managing a clothes-giving system for about a decade.

“We started the trans clothing drive so our students who were particularly trans or transitioning could have a space to come and try on the clothing for free in a private, comfortable yet welcoming space, and not have that fear of having people talk about them or getting the murmurs or stares,” Shaunte Polk, director Marshall University’s LGBTQ+ Office, told NBC.

Polk added that for 2019, they were looking for feminine shoes in larger sizes, including high heels, wedges and knee-high boots. Chest binders for trans men are also needed.

“I don’t have as much money during the year for myself,” Dylan Miller, a third-year Penn State student and trans man, told NBC. “I have somewhere to go and turn to that I can feel comfortable and without feeling like I’m being judged for it or somebody watching or questioning what I’m doing.”