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The Dress to Express Closet Provides Safe Gender Expression to Peorias' Trans Community

The Dress to Express Closet Provides Safe Gender Expression to Peorias' Trans Community
The Dress to Express Closet Provides Safe Gender Expression to Peorias' Trans Community


PEORIA (25News Now) – When a person explores their gender identity and buys matching clothes, some say it can be uncomfortable because they feel like others are watching them.

Positive Health Solutions (PHS), a gender-affirming clinic in central Illinois, launched the Dress to Express closet to offer relief.

PHS leaders say the clothes you choose are a way to show who you are inside, and it's important for them to provide a comfortable place for transgender people to do so.

We provide privacy so they can try on clothes and they can choose a few items that make them happy and that they can wear as they begin to express themselves in their transition process, said Ron Lombard, PHS nurse practitioner.

PHS provides medical care and counseling to the entire LGBTQ community, but the closet is intended for transgender people.

Lombard says PHS serves about 300 to 400 transgender clients.

Peer support specialist Joshua Morgan says starting a transition to a preferred gender can be intimidating, which is why the organization aims to give clients a comfortable place to try things.

I can only imagine what they are really going through. If I were to go to Walmart and try to look for a bra or a swimsuit or something, here you have the privacy to be able to walk in, look around and look for things that fit who you are , Morgan said.

The Dress to Express closet is free and open to clients receiving care through PHS's Gender-Affirming Care Program, but anyone can make a donation.

Dress to Express is looking for tops, bottoms, shoes and makeup, in addition to smaller items like jewelry, handbags, ties and belts.

Gender-affirming care goes well beyond just talking to the provider and possibly taking hormones that match one's gender identity. Clothes, often, correspond to how we feel inside; it's just a way of expressing who we authentically are, Lombard said.

Lombard asks people wishing to drop off clothing and accessories call the PHS case management team at 309-671-8457 beforehand to ensure items are clean, used with care and in a sealed bag.

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