Providing gender-affirming clothing free of charge, the Pride Alliance OUTfits Clothing Closet is a donation-based resource that can be visited year-round Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in Union 372. It is open to all UNT students.
The Closet accepts washed, gently used clothing donations from students, faculty, staff and community members while monetary donations are used for renovations or the purchase of new binders and bras. Clothing, shoes, accessories, makeup, bras, bra inserts and binders are acceptable donations.
“This is some of the most meaningful work we do,” Pride Alliance Director Kathleen Hobson said. “We are reminded of how important the Clothing Closet is every time a new student emerges in a binder, bra or outfit, and they have the ability to actualize their sense of self for possibly the first time. It can be an emotional and very meaningful experience for both our students and our staff.”
Opened in fall 2015, the Clothing Closet has been around for five years.
Hobson said when she arrived at UNT, the Trans and Intersex Alliance of Denton, a student organization on campus, had been saving clothes for a few months to create a clothing swap program for trans students.
The Pride Alliance then bought a small rolling closet to provide the clothing swap year round and started accepting clothing and monetary donations from the community which was the start of the OUTfits Clothing Closet.
“It’s absolutely wonderful,” new media art freshman Lyra Gooden said. “It’s so inclusive and makes everyone feel welcomed on campus, even queer and trans students who often feel left out. I feel deeply for the LGBT+ community and want nothing more than for them to prosper and feel comfortable not only in their skin but the clothes they wear as well.”
In the last five years, the Clothing Closet has expanded with several renovations to include hanging racks, a shoe rack, a changing area with a mirror, a curtain and a bench. It has expanded to occasionally stock jewelry and makeup and to grow the collection of bras, bra inserts, binders and shoes, Hobson said.
The Pride Alliance hopes to continue making renovations on the floor and get a second storage unit, Hobson said, so OUTfits can exist separately from the Pride Alliance storage space in the future.
“It was just a closet to me in the beginning,” Pride Alliance student worker Dtavious Hill said. “But then once I started going further into my position, and working with more students and with the clothes themselves, it made me feel really proud of UNT because this is something we offer for our students. Because a lot of students who are struggling in the trans community [and] figuring out that identity, when they go into the closet, they’re trying on for the first time clothing that makes them feel true to who they are.”
With a few small donations every week consistently throughout the year and larger donations right before breaks, the Pride Alliance has to limit the amount of donations accepted to the Clothing Closet due to not having enough space to receive every donation, Hobson said.
The student assistants in the Pride Alliance run the Clothing Closet. They sort clothing, maintain the closet, help students find clothes and help create advertisements for the program.
“It’s going the extra mile and I wholeheartedly respect that,” Gooden said. “It’s a good cause to give to for people who aren’t able for whatever reason to go out and get it themselves.”
OUTfits is open year-round for students, on any day that the Pride Alliance’s office is open, including the summer, spring break and the days of winter break when campus isn’t closed, Hobson said.
Hill compared the Clothing Closet resource to the Food Pantry on campus, since both are open to all UNT students and are available for those who need it.
“I think in the beginning, students are a little bit timid towards it,” Hill said. “But then once you tell them, ‘I’m going to leave. The closet is yours, however long you need. Take whatever you need.’ And you shut that door. And then when they come out, they just have this vibrant and glowing look that they just found something that really sits with them, something that really helps their identity, and they now have this item or this piece of clothing that they can wear proudly around. To some people this is just another article of clothing, but to other people, it’s liberating.”
Featured Illustration: Miranda Thomas