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Calgary clothing swap hopes to help LGBTQ2S+ people to dress for success

Finding clothes can be costly and stressful for many transgender people, advocates say

Ryan Peters, a support worker for Aura, a housing program for LGBTQ2S+ youth at Boys and Girls Clubs of Calgary, is helping organize a clothing swap for transgender and two-spirited people.

Jennifer Friesen for Metro

Ryan Peters, a support worker for Aura, a housing program for LGBTQ2S+ youth at Boys and Girls Clubs of Calgary, is helping organize a clothing swap for transgender and two-spirited people.

For many transgender and two-spirited people, what they wear can be a positive step in affirming their gender identity.

However, a disproportionate number of LGBTQ2S+ people experience poverty and homelessness as a result of employment discrimination and family rejection, making it difficult to afford the things many take for granted, such as clothing and makeup.

This weekend, Calgary Boys and Girls Clubs and The Alex Youth Health Centre are teaming up for the LGBTQ2S+ Swap and Shop, an opportunity to build community connections and support, and to help transgender and two-spirited people – particularly youth who identify as such – to find clothing that is relevant to their identity.

“For a lot of folks, clothes and makeup can be a really important way to express their own gender, and to affirm their gender, and to put their gender out into the world,” said Ryan Peters, a support worker for Aura, a housing program for LGBTQ2S+ youth at Boys and Girls Clubs of Calgary.

Large women’s shoes, small men’s shoes, clean and gently worn clothing, chest binders, breast forms and unused make-up are some of the gender affirming items the group is requesting for donation to the swap.

“Chest binders and breast forms can be really difficult to come by. They’re expensive and not sold in stores here,” said Peters.

Many transgender and two-spirited people experience discrimination when clothes shopping, and change rooms can be especially stressful.  With the swap, “they can come and try it on in a space that hopefully feels more affirming,” they said.

There is no admission to the swap, which is being held at CommunityWise Resource Centre on April 1, and anyone is welcome to donate or browse.

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