Colorful lights flashing, upbeat music playing, lively conversations and clothes, lots and lots of clothes. This was the backdrop of Westminster College’s gender affirming wardrobe event on Feb. 22 in Foster Hall.
The event, coordinated by Quinn Visher, a public health major, was intended to give community members a chance to find clothes that express who they are at no cost.
Visher said she organized this event because she is currently transitioning, and one of the first barriers she encountered was that she did not have any feminine clothes to match the way she was presenting her gender.
“When I was trying to get some clothes, it was seriously like, trying to come up with a whole new wardrobe,” Visher said. “So, I thought it would be really good to try to make that more of a communal endeavor.”
Visher said she was inspired by pop-up stores in Los Angeles for the set up of the event.
There were racks, bins, bags and two couches completely covered in clothing and a table full of Mary Kay makeup and complimentary food and drinks.
The event culminated in a fashion show where everyone who wanted to walk down the runway showing off their new attire.
Along with Visher, assistant English professor Eileen Chanza Torres, her teaching assistant Marley Dominguez and Kari Lindsey, the coordinator of the Student Diversity and Inclusion Center, helped pull together the event.
The clothes were provided through a student donation drive and by the downtown Uptown Cheapskate, Visher said.
“[Uptown Cheapskate was] really, really interested in this idea, and so they kinda held off their donations for a whole week, kinda saved them up for us, and gave them to us,” Visher said.
Visher said that she thought a gender-affirming wardrobe event was important because buying new clothes can be expensive, so being able to dress the way a person wants is a kind of privilege.
“[The event] is trying to bridge that disparity, trying to take down that barrier for trans people, so that they can express themselves the way that they want to be expressed,” Visher said.
Kit Kunigk, 21, an actor at Mystery Escape Room said that he came to the event because self-expression has always been difficult.
“Being big has made it just that much harder and I also have the additional trouble of actually being trans, but still like, not really wanting to fit into either box,” Kunigk said. “I am a trans man, I’m perfectly comfortable with that, but expression-wise I’m not quite, because a lot of men’s wear is quite boring to me.”
Attendees said they believe a gender-affirming wardrobe is important.
“Clothes express how we feel inside,” said Olivia Green, a Westminster graduate. “It sends a message to who sees us, so when we have clothes that match how we’re feeling, then we can present that to other people.”