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First of its kind transgender shopping experience opens in Northeast Ohio

Posted at 10:10 PM, Feb 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-09 23:58:37-05

AKRON, Ohio — When our wardrobe needs some updating most of us don't give much thought about going to the store, but for members of the transgender community, picking out clothes and going in to dressing rooms can be a challenging and sometimes scary experience.

When Margie's Hope youth program member Jackson Stutler finally freed the emotions he was feeling on the inside, the 16-year-old struggled to show it on the outside.

"I don't have a lot of men's clothes, you just feel uncomfortable," Stutler said.

Lacking the proper attire that aligns with their gender identity is a reoccurring issue members of Margie’s Hope kept hearing about.

"We found out there was a real need for folks to be able to come to a safe space to try on clothing, to try on undergarments," said Jacob Nash of Margie's Hope.

Now, Northeast Ohio is home to the first of its kind closet that allows those who are transgender to find their style in a judgment-free setting.

"I wasn't comfortable buying clothes for myself when I was first starting out," said Declan Bilyew of Margie's Hope.

In addition to finding those perfect pieces, there are other services to help people find what makes them comfortable.

"They can get their haircut because a lot of them aren't used to going to a barber or a beautician," said Melissa Stutler of Margie's Hope.

Completing their look may also require cosmetics and there's help for that too.

Everything at Margie’s Closet is free for the taking.

"We had such a great response from folks when we asked for donations for clothing," Nash said.

That support from strangers is helping change not only appearances, but attitudes.

"Now that they're able to be themselves they're flourishing," Melissa Stutler said.

The comradery among those shopping the closet is also lifting spirits.

"I found myself and I am so much happier than I actually was. The support we get from each other is enough to keep everyone happy," Jackson Stutler said.

Organizers told News 5 that they plan is to host another event like this one in the next six months.

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