Being trans comes with some benefits, like having a lovely support group. Here in Indianapolis, at least for me, that comes in the form of a group known as “Trans Indy”. They meet once a month, have a Facebook group, and do outings periodically. Last weekend I woke up pretty early on a Saturday morning and checked my support groups Facebook page to find that an event had been posted, somewhat last minute: A “Trans Clothing Swap” hosted at Butler University by the group TransForm. It was the first time this Butler group had ever hosted a clothing swap, and I was intrigued.
It just so happened that this also worked out pretty well for me. You see, last Summer I finally got sick of digging around the women’s clothing that I own to actually get to the stuff I would wear and so I purged my closet and dresser. While a fair number of things went to the lovely women in my life, there was a goodly sized trash bag full of things that were destined for donation. My immediate thought had been Goodwill, or the battered women’s shelter, but somehow I just never managed to get over that way with the bag in tow. So hearing about this clothing swap was the perfect time to finally get that bag out of the house, and hopefully into the hands of some nice folks who could use them.
Heading out to Butler campus was easy, my GPS knew exactly where that was, however the Facebook event indicated that the swap was taking place in Jordan Hall. My GPS knew were tons of other halls were located, but Jordan Hall seemed to be a large black hole. I drove around campus for a while, hoping to see some signs pointing the way, but that failed me as well. Eventually I became “that guy”, I creped up beside some folks in my car, rolled down the window and started asking for directions. Surprisingly, everyone was super thoughtful and helpful! (Or maybe it’s not that surprising, the Midwest is known for it’s nice-ness after all) So with a little help from the locals I found myself at the right building. I’m glad I asked, the building didn’t even have a sign on it stating it was Jordan Hall! I don’t know how those first year kids find their way around.
Stepping out of my car, I grabbed the big trash bag full of clothes and headed across the grass to the doors. There were two doors, and I just took a stab. As I was waddling across the lawn, arms full, I was approached by an alternative looking, thin, clearly queer individual who warmly greeted me and asked if I was headed to the clothing swap. It was really comforting to have someone confirm this thing was actually going on! They pointed me towards the other set of doors and even gave me some directions for once I was in the building. As I approached the double doors that they pointed me to, I paused to take a picture, because I thought the architecture was awesome, and they ran over and asked if I needed help. What did I tell ya about Mid-westerners? Nice, nice, nice.
Once I made my way inside, and up the two flights of stairs, I found a hall way that looked like the right place. I was greeted and explained how things worked. Clothes were split up into different rooms by type: casual, formal, accessories, pajamas and intimates, etc. I was encouraged to look around and that they had some rooms where you could try on clothes if you wanted to. They also had a queer art exhibit going on in a near by room, and I was encouraged to give a look around.
I poked around at some of the rooms and foolishly asked if the clothes were broken down by gender at all, to which the person I was speaking to seemed surprised and stated that clothes didn’t need to have a gender. And they are right, people don’t need to dress according to the binary, but for me it would have been helpful just for digging through it all. And boy, did they have a lot. Clearly people went all out to get this many clothes in one place. However, there was a couple things lacking. Firstly, clothes for the more rotund amongst us. All of the clothes seemed to run on the small side, and while I am short, I’m pretty round. Secondly, the clothes certainly ran on the more casual end. I went over to “formal” area and that’s where I found things like polos and dresses, but truly formal clothes didn’t seem to exist. Now, let me restate, this was on a college campus. It was put on by college students, predominantly for college students, so office attire is probably not a big need for that demographic.
I wandered towards their art exhibit room and was delighted to see other familiar faces from our community. One person was playing guitar and selling CDs. One person was displaying some prints they had created, and some leather goods. It was a really neat addition to the event, and I think will be fun to see it grow.
Looking around at all of the goodies they had, I started to wonder what was going to happen to it all if it wasn’t taken. It seemed like more people were givers rather than takers. I was delighted by the answer though, all of the goods were going to go to IYG, and for their demographic, these goods seemed perfect. I love that our queer support groups in Indianapolis help each other out.
While I didn’t find many goods that would do me good at the event, I did feel like I should take something with from the experience. What I found was a plaid rainbow scarf that I loved, and while it’s getting a little warm for it now, it’ll look great come this winter. Right next to it was an silver and blue, shimmery, infinity scarf that seemed to scream “AMBER!” and so I grabbed that for her as well. She’s trans, so I didn’t feel guilty, it was certainly still in the spirit of the thing.
Overall, I think these young adults put on a great event. The students at Butler are so lucky to have a great group like this there. This was the groups first year on campus, and they certainly shined. The folks I talked to were interested in making this an annual event, which is great news for the community, and I look forward to watching these queer youth leaders come into their own.