HAMPTON ROADS, Va. — Sarah Noffsinger in Virginia has been busy for the past few days, packaging gifts to people she’s never met before. She includes a handwritten card signed with love before sealing the bags and boxes.
“I want people to feel like they weren’t ‘othered,’ I guess,” said Noffsinger.
Noffsinger runs the Gender Affirming Clothing Care Package Program out of her Norfolk home for the Transgender Assistance Program of Virginia (TAP VA). The website launched June 1 on the first day of Pride Month.
“Sometimes [transgender people] have to wear clothing that doesn’t align with their gender identity or gender expression, and that can be really dysphoric for a lot of people,” she explained.
Transgender people throughout Virginia can get free clothing that makes them feel comfortable in their own bodies through the new program.
“We want people to pick out clothes that they are going to feel comfortable in and confident in so that they can knock out that job interview or feel confident enough to come out to their friends and family or something like that,” said Noffsinger.
People can browse the online catalog and pick one to three items they like, and Noffsinger will ship them off - completely free of charge.
The program started with 100 pieces of clothing. Three days and 44 orders later, they’re down to eight items.
“Even newly ‘out’ trans people, they... you kind of have to redo your whole closet, which can be a very expensive and also emotionally tasking process to try and clothes and stuff like that,” said Noffsinger.
All the clothing is donated from Nomads Clothing Exchange, a Norfolk consignment store, and community members donated packaging and shipping supplies.
The program temporarily closes on June 10 and will reopen July 1 with new items.
“It feels good knowing that somebody is going to get a package, and like, open it up and feel like super excited about it, and put on a shirt or pants, and just like feel good about who they are, and feel confident in the body that they’re in because the clothing that they’re wearing fits well,” she said.
It’s a small but meaningful gesture to help more people feel proud to be seen.
TAP VA has a free clothing closet located in Portsmouth. People who are interested in shopping at that location should contact TransactivistVA@gmail.com for details.
TAP VA has an Amazon Wish List for supplies to support the program. The nonprofit is also accepting donations through their Give OUT Day fundraiser that ends on June 30 and their website.
This story was originally published by Kofo Lasaki at WTKR.