Atlas transferred to George Mason University in the fall of 2019 from John Tyler Community College in Chester, Virginia. He is transmasculine and said he was very surprised to learn about the newly opened a trans closet on Mason’s Fairfax Campus.
“When I first discovered that Mason had a trans closet, I was in disbelief,” he said.
Mason’s trans closet, a service of LGBTQ+ Resources, opened in March 2019. It is a safe space where transgender, nonbinary, and gender nonconforming students can find clothes of their liking without feeling uncomfortable or unsafe by the way others might perceive them.
“I’m trans masculine, but I enjoy wearing a wide variety of clothing such as dresses, skirts and other feminine articles,” Atlas said. “It’s comforting and reassuring to know that I have a place to pick and try on clothing that I like, safely.”
Mason’s trans closet was established because of conversations staff from LGBTQ+ Resources had with students, who expressed their struggles with finding clothing and who said a closet would be a welcome resource. So Josh Kinchen, associate director of LGBTQ+ Resources, and assistant director LuLu Géza Kelemen, had a conversation of their own.
“We were just talking about our visions of what we wanted this place to look like,” said Kinchen, adding that trans closets are a benchmarked part of LGBTQ+ resource centers around the country.
“For people who don’t associate with their own gender or identity they were assigned at birth, it gives them an opportunity to try on new clothes and look for new clothes in a way that isn’t intimidating,” said a Mason junior who has used the closet and donated to it. “Going out and shopping in the section that you identify with, people might look at you weird.”
The closet is open to all students. Donations can be made to LGBTQ+ Resources in SUB I, Suite 2200. It accepts gently worn clothes, accessories and new undergarments, and is in particular need of chest binders, Kinchen said.
So far, the closet has received between 1,500 and 1,750 donations of clothing.
“The trans closet gives me a safe, affirming space to try on clothes that I can borrow or take home to keep without having to worry about money,” said a Mason senior involved in Pride Alliance. “The Trans Closet is also a sustainable way for all students to deal with the clothing they don’t want. Instead of going to a landfill and contributing to waste pollution, these clothes are going to a great cause. I can’t say enough about how amazing the trans closet is.”