Pride collecting donations for trans women

Roberto Hodge, Multicultural Editor

Pride will be accepting donations for transgender women of color throughout Pride Week with donation boxes in the Martin Luther King Jr. University Union.

Benjamin Wilburn, a graduate assistant for the Gateway program, said the clothing drive focuses solely on transgender women for a few reasons.

He said trans women and especially trans women of color face violence and discrimination at incredibly high rates.

“It seems almost daily there is a news story about a transgender woman facing adversity,” Wilburn said.

Wilburn said this drive takes time to collect resources that might be hard for these women to access. He said this is also the first time Pride is having a donation like this.

“My hope is that next year we will be able to benefit both trans men and women,” Wilburn said.

The resources for trans women in rural areas can be difficult to come by. Especially as people are reaching the “coming out” process and affirming their identity, these are materials they could be seeking out.

The drive also gives individuals a safe place to pick up clothing, makeup, perfume and other cosmetics, Wilburn said.

“I had a friend tell me once that she never felt safe buying clothing or cosmetics — and that was all I really needed to hear to see that there is a need in the trans community for this type of action,” Wilburn said. “There needs to be a safe spot for people to connect with resources; that is what we are seeking to do here.”

Wilburn said the great aspect about a clothing drive is that it is all about perception; he said they don’t always—if at all, have a specific gender.

The donations first go to the LGBTQ Resource Center; they will then be sent to community members. Some will go to Champaign and others up toward the Chicago area.

“My hope is that each year we will be able to grow in size and help more people. This is truly just about helping the community,” Wilburn said.

Roberto Hodge can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].