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Honors Students Organize Trans Student Clothing Pick-Up Event

Students in need of gender-affirming clothing are invited to the second Trans Student Clothing Pick-Up at the WVU LGBTQ+ Center (Maple House) today, Friday, Dec. 10 from 1-5 p.m. Hosted by the Honors LGBTQ+ and Allies Affinity Group, this event is open to all trans and gender non-conforming students at WVU. Students can try on the clothing and take it home for free.

This is the second pick-up opportunity for this event, which occurred for the first time before the Thanksgiving break on Wednesday, Nov. 17.

Event co-organizers Honors students Newt Sweeney and Taya Sullivan said they were excited by the turnout and enthusiasm for the event. Newt is a second-year acting major with a minor in creative writing, while Taya is a first-year neuroscience major with a Spanish minor. Both are in the Honors Foundations program and are involved in the Honors LGBTQ+ and Allies Affinity Group.

“I was shocked by the amount of clothing donated from just three days,” Newt said. “We had probably 10 garbage bags worth of clothes.” 

After collection, the clothing was all washed, folded and organized to get it ready for students to go through for the event. 

This event helps fill an important need for students.

“I know from personal experience that trying to shop for gender affirming clothing can be difficult. Especially when your financial resources are a little bit limited, as many college students’ resources are,” Newt said. They said they were glad to be able to provide this opportunity for students to explore gender-affirming clothing in a supportive environment.

“We could tell there were some people there who were nervous to be there, who weren’t out and would have had a difficult experience shopping for gender-affirming clothing on their own in public,” Newt said. “I’m really happy with the turnout we had because I think we reached the people that most needed these clothes.”

They said that they started working together with Taya and other students on the event back in September of this year. Taya said she found the experience of organizing the event to be a rewarding one.

“The ability to really take ownership of the group and plan your own events has been so worthwhile,” Taya said. “The group is really relaxed — if you want to do an idea, you have the space and money to explore it.”

Taya and Newt first developed their ideas for the event by researching what other colleges and universities have done, such as Marshall University, which has a permanent Marshall Trans Community Clothing Closet, something both Newt and Taya said they would love to see at WVU in the future. 

In the meantime, they hope to be able to host the Trans Student Clothing Pick-Up event either annually or once a semester. For those who were unable to donate clothing this time who are interested in donating in the future, Newt suggested donations of professional clothing would be helpful, while Taya noted how useful accessories can be, and both students said that any trans-specific clothing, such as binders, would also be greatly appreciated.

“Anything will help,” Taya said. “Accessories are useful for quickly changing gender expression. Seasonal attire is always helpful too.”

Newt noted how important having gender-affirming clothing can be in the job search process.

“Going to interviews is another thing that can be difficult when you’re trans because that’s another layer of pressure. You don’t know what your employer might think of you if you aren’t really presenting the way that they expect you to,” Newt said. “So having business casual clothes that match your gender identity is a great way to boost confidence in interviews and just make you feel a little bit more comfortable in that space.”

Taya said she loved seeing the event come together.

“It felt so amazing seeing all of the work that we put forth with emailing different venues and making our advertising materials and spreading the word, and now, finally, there are people coming in and taking the clothes. It was very rewarding,” she said.

Taya said she’s also excited to see what new events and activities they might put together in future semesters. 

“I would like to see more events that bring the community together and allow us to support one another, things like the clothing drive,” Taya said. “A couple of weeks ago, we hosted an event for National Coming Out Day and it was really nice to have everyone come together, get to know each other — really feel like a community on campus.”

This event is co-sponsored by the Honors LGBTQ+ and Allies Affinity Group and the WVU LGBTQ+ Center.