When school reconvenes this fall, William and Mary’s transgender population will have access to a variety of free clothing, thanks to an initiative by the University’s Student Diversity Center. The trans locker will allow students to dress according to their gender identity–an option they might not have while living at home or elsewhere.
In a a press release, Kimberly Weatherly, director of the Center for Student Diversity, said, “A lot of times, LGBTQ students have not come out to family and friends at home. After they arrive on campus, it’s an opportunity for them to evolve and sometimes finally live their truth.”
Students on the LGBTQ spectrum may, due to bias, find it difficult to find places where they can shop comfortably and feel safe, and they are sometimes prohibited from trying on clothing in the dressing room for the gender that they identify with, said Weatherly. They may also find it financially challenging to replace large amounts of apparel to help them express their gender.
The center hosted a clothing drive among faculty and staff last week and, over the course of just two days, received more than 150 items, including gently used clothing and accessories. In addition, W&M’s Virginia Institute of Marine Science has been collecting items to donate, and alumni are mailing even more to the center. All of the items will be free to students who use the locker.
“I was very humbled that people were so gracious and so willing to donate,” said Weatherly. “We’re thankful to lean on faculty and staff – they came through in gangbusters.”
The trans locker initiative grew out of research that the Center has been doing about best practices in LGTBQ services.
Initially, the locker will actually be a closet in the basement of the Center for Student Diversity. Weatherly and her staff are still discussing how it will operate, whether students may use it by appointment for the sake of privacy or whether it will have regular days and hours of operation. Either way, Weatherly expects the locker to be open sometime in September.
Weatherly expects to hold another clothing drive in the fall, with more items expected not just from faculty and staff but also students who will then be back on campus. However, the center is open to receiving more items at any time.
While they will accept gently used clothing and accessories, Weatherly said they especially need more new undergarments and chest binders.