Wardrobe event looks to ease shopping experience for Philly’s LGBTQ+ community

On Oct. 17, 2022, The Wardrobe hosted a free clothing drive at its Old City location for members of the LGBTQ community. Clothing items for all genders and sizes were available. Pre-registration was required. (Cory Sharber/WHYY)

On Oct. 17, 2022, The Wardrobe hosted a free clothing drive at its Old City location for members of the LGBTQ community. Clothing items for all genders and sizes were available. Pre-registration was required. (Cory Sharber/WHYY)

Shopping for clothes can be a pretty simple task for many, but it can be challenging for those who identify as transgender or non-binary.

Nonprofits set up at The Wardrobe in Old City Monday to provide free clothes and resources for members of Philadelphia’s LGBTQ+ community.

There is a limited number of options when shopping for transgender people and finding clothing that fits properly can be difficult. But, as Program Director Al Sharrock explains, the shopping struggles don’t just stop at sizing.

On Oct. 17, 2022, The Wardrobe hosted a free clothing drive at its Old City location for members of the LGBTQ community. Clothing items for all genders and sizes were available. Pre-registration was required. (Cory Sharber/WHYY)

“You’re worried that people are going to be rude to you, that people are going to ask you why you’re in the wrong section and things like that, or they’re going to downright harass you, so the external factor is really stressful,” Sharrock said.

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Ani Kerr is a volunteer for Philly DSA, the local chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America. Being non-binary, Kerr said shopping can be “exhausting” and “sort of a chore” when searching through the aisles.

On Oct. 17, 2022, The Wardrobe hosted a free clothing drive at its Old City location for members of the LGBTQ community. Clothing items for all genders and sizes were available. Pre-registration was required. (Cory Sharber/WHYY)

“I feel more comfortable often on the men’s side, but often I can’t find anything that will fit me,” Kerr said. Stores just won’t carry my size, so it can be defeating to go shopping… especially if I need something for a work event and I need to get something really quick. I basically can’t get something really quick, you know, because I’m so limited in what fits and what I feel comfortable in.”

Studies have shown clothing can help people address gender dysphoria and affirm one’s gender identity. Galaei Program Coordinator, Ebony Ali said it’s important for these communities to have safe spaces to shop and not face discrimination when out and about.

On Oct. 17, 2022, The Wardrobe hosted a free clothing drive at its Old City location for members of the LGBTQ community. Clothing items for all genders and sizes were available. Pre-registration was required. (Cory Sharber/WHYY)

“I feel like it’s important to have stores like that so you can feel affirmed, and also there’s people that work in a place like this that can understand what you are going through and that can help you feel comfortable in finding clothing,” Ali said. “We all need clothing for work and we especially need gender-affirming clothing for work and for life.”

The Wardrobe will be hosting another Community Wardrobe event for all genders on December 22nd.

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