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Virginia college students are running a thrift store for transgender and nonbinary people

University Lynchburg Thrift Store Transgender Nonbinary students
facebook @university.of.lynchburg; Shutterstock

Transgender people looking to change up their wardrobes are often met with financial barriers, but Dell Thrift and Pantry at the University of Lynchburg is working to change that.

Transgender people looking to change up their wardrobes are often met with financial barriers. At a private college in Virginia, LGBTQ+ students are working to break down those walls with a no cost food and clothing pantry.

Dell Thrift and Pantry at the University of Lynchburg provides free clothing, including binders, for members of the community, as well as nonperishable food. While it is geared towards transgender and gender-nonconforming pupils, all students and staff are welcome, 24/7.

The pantry opened in September after receiving a grant of $1,600 in startup funds from the university's Innovation Collaborative program. It is manned by 20 volunteer students, and accepts clothing donations from its patrons, as well as monthly food donations from the Park View Community Mission and the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank.

Dell Thrift and Pantry also features a fund specifically for binders, which can be requested through a QR code on the bulletin board outside the shop. Patrons can fill in their information and receive one in their mail, delivered discretely.

Quality binders are often expensive, and using cheap ones can have adverse health effects. The binders provided by Dell Thrift come from GC2b, which are not only designed with safety in mind, but also created "by trans people, for trans people," according to their website.

One nonbinary student told local outlet Cardinal News, which first reported on the story, that they would have been unable to purchase a safe binder without Dell Thrift due to money and transportation barriers.

“If I didn’t have Dell Thrift ... I don’t really have another option,” they said, adding, "It feels more freeing, to actually be myself, to not have to dress up in a certain way for people."

The student noted that they've donated much of their old clothing to the store as a way to pay the kindness forward, which many trans students do once they're able to build up a new wardrobe that reflects their identity.

They continued to say that “part of why [Dell Thrift] is so welcoming" is because much of the staff are LGBTQ+. While the LGBTQ+ community at the school isn't particularly large, the store has been refuge not just for queer people, but for all students and staff who may need it.

“There are people on campus that do judge, but that happens everywhere,” they said.

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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.