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Trans clothing swap provides safe space for people to explore identity

Trans clothing swap
Posted at 9:35 PM, May 10, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-10 23:29:57-04

MILWAUKEE — Bounce Milwaukee hosted a "Trans Clothing Swap" on Tuesday night in partnership with organizations like Milwaukee LGBT Community Center, Diverse & Resilient, and Forge.

Bounce Milwaukee owner Becky Cooper decided to plan and host the event after seeing a similar event take place in Chippewa Falls.

"I thought it was such an amazing idea to help people who are discovering their new identity to do so in an inexpensive way and a safe way and a supportive way," said Cooper.

Cooper is also the mom of a transgender son and a non-binary child. She said she was pleasantly surprised by how many people showed up and donated to the event. In just the first two hours, more than 150 people stopped by.

"It's really busy and really popular. I'm loving seeing people leave with garbage bags of new wardrobes," Cooper said. "It's so heartwarming. It really chokes me up."

The clothing swap had various clothing items, shoes, accessories, wigs and bindings for people to choose from for free. Free haircuts were also available.

Activists in Milwaukee's LGBTQ+ said this kind of event helps people feel safe and affirmed in their identities.

"People don't always feel comfortable putting on or trying out the outfits that are right for them or right for their expression. So to be able to just have a space where nobody is asking questions, no one is looking at you funny. People are just happy and there's no judgment," said Osha Towers, a volunteer at the event.

"So often we have to kind of become ourselves in secret and we have to kind of hide our identities. So to have an event where you can get free, affirming items is so important," said Alex Corona with the Milwaukee LGBT Community Center and Diverse & Resilient.

More than anything, organizers of the event said the hope is that people in the community feel like the have a safe place to explore every facet of their identity.

"If you walk into the space already seeing people wearing these clothes that are expressing their gender very well, you're going to be more comfortable doing that," said Emmett who was there picking out clothes.

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