When Jaimie Wilson first began transitioning from female to male, shopping for clothes was an uncomfortable experience.
"It was really intimidating for me to go shopping for clothes that I felt comfortable in," Wilson said. "Sometimes you go shopping in the men's or women's section, and if you don't look the part people from the store make you feel awkward or bad about it. So I definitely wanted to create a safe space for people to go where it was welcoming instead of intimidating."
That "space" is actually an online store called Trans Exchange.
"What we have put together is a website where we sell new and gently used clothing," said Wilson. "Almost all the clothes/accessories are donated from brothers and sisters who no longer have a need for their pre-transition clothes/accessories or just extra clothes that they don't want anymore. We sell the clothes at super affordable prices. This way FTM, MTF, and non-binary people can buy body positive clothing and accessories for a great price in a safe way."
Trans Exchange is not for profit, however, and Wilson makes no money off of the venture. Instead, all of the proceeds go into a pool. At the end of the calendar year, Wilson will choose a transitioning applicant and give them the money to help toward their transition expenses.
"We are currently accepting applications from individuals interested in being our very first sponsored party," Wilson said. "All the money accumulated from 2016 will go towards the winner's transition expenses, including surgery, hormones/doctor visits, name/gender change costs, etc." So the monies made off of everything the Trans Exchange sells -- including clothes, sunglasses, wallets, packers, binders, bras, Pride flags, etc. -- will go to a trans individual in need.
For now, the store is online only, but Wilson said the day may come when they actually move into a physical retail space. "I think it would be cool if it grows that much to be able to do a retail space," he said. "I live in Ann Arbor and I know it's a very LGBT-friendly space, so that would be good. Right now online is definitely the easiest because it can reach the most people."
To shop the Trans Exchange, visit www.transxcompany.com. Information can also be found there on how to donate clothes and how to apply to be the program's first awardee.
PrideSource, MI, USA
By Jason A. Michael
Originally printed 2016-08-04 (Issue 2431 - Between The Lines News)