Last spring, the Penn State LGBTQA Student Resource Center started a new program — a space where members of the LGBTQ community can shop for clothes and accessories in a safe, welcoming environment.
Penn State’s Clothing Transit was made possible through the financial support of the Philip N. Knutson Endowment and a gift in the memory of Penn State student Eli Roe, who also used his birth name, Miriam. He died by suicide in 2016.
The Clothing Transit is a community effort between 3rd Way Collective — a student organization that seeks “to create spaces for peace, justice and faith on campus” — the LGBTQA resource center and Lutheran Campus Ministry.
“People are often really surprised, pleasantly surprised, that it exists, and it helps with that feeling of isolation or division that there’s a space that exists for them that’s institutionally recognized and approved and an extension of the community’s love and support for students, especially trans students,” said Ben Wideman, 3rd Way Collective pastor.
Dylan Miller, a junior psychology major who is transgender, is the intern who runs the Clothing Transit.
“It’s rewarding to see people that come in and get clothing that affirms their identity and that they’re comfortable in, in a situation that they’re also comfortable being in,” Miller said.
A student may find a shirt they like in the women’s section of a traditional retail store, but if they don’t identify as a woman or more feminine, they might feel weird getting it, he said.
In the Clothing Transit, the clothing isn’t organized by gender, rather it’s organized by clothing type.
“It’s just kind of a shirt, like it should be,” Miller said.
In addition to clothing, the transit has shoes, bags, hats and jewelry — and it’s all free.
LGBTQA resource center Director Brian Patchcoski said the Clothing Transit is one piece of the larger puzzle of making Penn State a welcoming environment for transgender and non-binary students.
Regardless of sex at birth, he said he hopes students can live their true lives here.
The Clothing Transit, located in 24 Ritenour Building, is open 12:30-1:30 p.m. Tuesdays and 3-4 p.m. Fridays, or by appointment, during fall semester. Those hours are likely to change in spring semester. Donations to the transit can be dropped off in 101 Boucke Building during normal business hours.