“When trans people are undergoing a social transition, it’s very expensive to buy new clothes,” Jamison Crowell, executive director of the DC Area Transmasculine Society. “Trans folks are disproportionately low-income, and buying a new wardrobe is expensive. So we take donations from the entire community, look for clearances, bargains, anything we can to find the clothes we want.”
For the third year, DCATS will host TranSwap, an event that is part-clothing drive, part-swap meet, and specifically geared towards trans individuals. This year, the organization has partnered with local LGBTQ community center and services organization Casa Ruby to expand the reach of the swap to serve transfeminine individuals and include items beyond just suits and other workplace attire.
Because men’s and women’s clothing pieces are sized differently, someone undergoing a transition may not know their size, and may be reticent to ask for help from a store clerk, unsure of how they will be treated. To allay those fears, DCATS has trans-affirming volunteers on hand to help with measurements and provide on-site alterations so that participants can find the look they want in a size and style that will flatter their individual body types.
During the swap, DCATS and Casa Ruby will be running a binder exchange, where transmasculine individuals who have since undergone top surgery can donate their old binders for reuse.
Because clothes at the TranSwap are not divided by gender, anyone can bring an item to be swapped or repurposed, or can find a look that suits a certain need — whether for a professional setting, a casual get-together, or a night on the town.
“It’s really just an opportunity for people to be able to get the clothes that they want and not have the anxiety that comes along with going into a gendered section of a department store,” says Crowell. “That’s the thing that we’ve heard from participants in the past: that they understand the sizing of clothing and feel much more comfortable going into a more public place to shop after they’ve come to a swap.”
DCATS and Casa Ruby’s TranSwap is Sunday, Dec. 15 from Noon to 3 p.m. at the Eaton Hotel, 1201 K St. NW. If you wish to donate clothes prior to the day of the event, please drop them off at Casa Ruby, 7530 Georgia Ave. NW, by Dec. 13 or make an appointment to drop them off at DCATS, 55 M St. NE, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit www.dcats.org or www.casaruby.org.
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