Theo DeSilva is an 18 year old trans man from Winnipeg who came up with an idea to help the GLBT community. He and his girlfriend, Jes Stefanik, are running Winnipeg’s first large-scale GBLT clothing swap, called the Winnipeg Gender Inclusive Clothing Swap (WGICS). It is open to anyone on the GLBT spectrum.
Joey, a member of the trans community, thinks the WGICS is a great idea and could become a really big thing. Chris, another member of the trans community, also thinks it is a fantastic idea that many people will be able to benefit from.
The idea first came to DeSilva in April when a friend from The Peer Project Youth Group told him how his parents said that if he wanted to be trans, he would have to do it all himself. Buying new clothes is expensive and not everyone can afford it, so DeSilva offered him some of his own clothes. “I was talking to my girlfriend about it on the phone one night and I came up with the idea of a clothing swap and it started from there,” says DeSilva.
Because the clothing swap has just started, DeSilva and Stefanik are testing the waters on how it’s going to run. As of right now, anyone in need of clothes can contact DeSilva via the WGICS Facebook page to arrange a time to check out and take clothes. “Anyone who needs clothes can just come and get some, but eventually it would be more of a swap. ‘I need a new pair of pants, so here’s a pair that I can donate back,’ kind of idea.”
DeSilva is currently using his house as a drop-off zone, but is looking to expand to more central locations. Rainbow Resource Centre, Klinic and Project Undies are all looking to help DeSilva set up drop zones. “We want to have three or four drop-off zones and any company willing to help would be great.”
WGICS has been lucky enough to have received 15 donated bags of clothes so far. They are still looking for masculine clothing, mid-size female clothing and binders.
Joey says many binders go to friends in need before they make it to a clothing drive. He suggested that if ever WGICS were to accept monetary donations, they could give youth and people in need of binders a pre-loaded credit card to purchase binders with. He also thought that reaching out to drag queens to donate shoes could help people who need larger shoe sizes.
Chris says everyone can take time to look through their clothing and donate to help people in need. This is also a great way for people in need to find cool new garments to wear that won’t cost anything.
Joey says transitioning costs add up very quick. “Clothing is the last thing you want to worry about.”
If you or anyone you know is in need of clothing or a binder and doesn’t feel comfortable enough contacting Theo, he will be hosting swaps. More details will be available on the Facebook page as events are planned.
Both Chris and Joey mentioned there are smaller scale clothing drives organized by women’s shelters and between friends in the community, but there isn’t enough awareness about them. Chris noticed that this year, the trans movement has been receiving a lot more attention, which is creating more awareness.