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This Minnesota thrift store is providing refuge for LGBTQ+ southerners

Rainbow Wardrobe Twin Cities Pride FREE gender affirming thrift store
via Twin Cities Pride

A growing number of LGBTQ+ southerners and other transgender refugees are seeking resources at a new shop in Minneapolis, which provides its items for free.

Minnesota lawmakers solidified the state as a transgender refuge last year, and since then, the local community has stepped up to provide for the LGBTQ+ people seeking resources.

One thrift store in Minneapolis has especially stepped up for queer southerners and refugees from other states that have passed anti-LGBTQ+ laws. Rainbow Wardrobe offers a welcoming environment where customers can try out new styles with the guidance of accepting staff, providing clothing and basic care items free of cost.

Maddy Loch, coordinator of Rainbow Wardrobe, said that half of the store's visitors are new to the North Star State, and moved there recently because of the transgender protections.

“We have people coming from southern states who are like, We need these things. This is why we moved here,” Loch told MPR News. “So many nonprofits like ours are bending over backwards to try to accommodate the influx of need that has come into our state, which is amazing. Individuals having access to this can be life-saving.”

The Minnesota legislature designated the state as a transgender refuge state in March, 2023, passing protections for gender-affirming care, and its patients and providers. It also banned conversion therapy for minors.

Rainbow Wardrobe was first conceptualized in June during the Twin Cities Pride Festival, beginning as a booth with just one clothing rack and a few garbage bags of items. Loch, who is the programming coordinator for Rainbow Circle, the community programming division of Twin Cities Pride, spearheaded the store after its success at the festival.

Monetary donations from Rainbow Circle are used to purchase gender-affirming garments for customers, including tucking underwear, menstrual boxers, and binders. The items also come with instructions on how to use them safely.

“Yes, this is a gender-affirming wardrobe, but it is also just a wardrobe for individuals to come in and find clothes that make them feel comfortable, because that is a right that everyone deserves," Loch added.

Rainbow Wardrobe is open weekdays 9-4, with after-hours appointments available.

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Ryan Adamczeski

Ryan is a staff writer at the Advocate, and a graduate of New York University Tisch's Department of Dramatic Writing, with a focus in television writing and comedy. She first became a published author at the age of 15 with her YA novel 'Someone Else's Stars', and is now a member of GALECA, the LGBTQ+ society of entertainment critics. In her free time, Ryan likes watching New York Rangers hockey, listening to the Beach Boys, and practicing witchcraft.
Ryan is a staff writer at the Advocate, and a graduate of New York University Tisch's Department of Dramatic Writing, with a focus in television writing and comedy. She first became a published author at the age of 15 with her YA novel 'Someone Else's Stars', and is now a member of GALECA, the LGBTQ+ society of entertainment critics. In her free time, Ryan likes watching New York Rangers hockey, listening to the Beach Boys, and practicing witchcraft.