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California High School Installs ‘Transition Closet’ To Help Students Hide Their Gender Expression From Their Parents

Photo: TikTok / Iryna Imago / Shutterstock
High school teachers launches transition closet, Pride flag pin

A high school in Oakland, California has become one of the latest schools to adopt a phenomenon called the 'transition closet,' which is designed as a makeshift wardrobe for students to change in when they arrive to school if they aren't comfortable with their parents knowing about their gender expression.

The concept of a transition closet was first launched in at the Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Fayetteville, Arkansas, and was open to transgender, nonbinary, lesbian, and gay youth in the state, and across the country, who are lacking access to proper gender-affirming apparel and undergarments.

Now, the transition closet has opened a new chapter at Fremont High School, with an annoucement that wrote, "We are extremely excited to begin our journey in working with Fremont Highschool of Oakland California, alongside our favorite Teacher of TikTok @justaqueerteacher."

The transition closet offers Fremont students a safe space to practice their gender expression.

A video of the teacher, Thomas Martin-Edwards, who works for the Oakland Unified School District and is the founder of the Queer Teacher Fellowship, was shared in which he expresses the goal for the program at the Oakland high school.

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"The goal of the transition closet is for our students to wear the clothes that their parents approve of, come to school and then swap out into the clothes that fit who they truly are," Martin-Edwards said. 

"And I use the idea that this is like Superman changing in a phone booth. But that idea actually goes a lot further than that. Because Superman isn't Clark Kent. Clark Kent is actually the disguise. And when Clark Kent goes into the phone booth, he transforms into Superman, who is really just who he truly is, Kal-El. So this gives our trans students the opportunity to be the superheroes that we know they are," he continued.

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The transition closet, which also features informational videos that teach people how to properly bind their chests so that they can conform to the gender that best fits them, had recently won a grant from the Arkansas LGBTQ+ Advancement Fund. 

The grant will be used "to provide gender-affirming clothing and accessories for transgender and non-binary Arkansans."

On the Facebook page for the program, they shared the needs for the new chapter of the transition closet at Fremont High School. "The near future holds transition closets and services throughout the school district for students of the Trans/Nonbinary/Intersex and additional LGBTQIA+ Community Members."

"We are currently in need of clothing donations to help kick start the first School Based Transition Closet, and they gave information about where materials could be donated."

With the implementation of the new chapter of the transition closet, trans-students and nonbinary students will be able to feel more comfortable with clothes that make them feel like themselves, without having to explain to their parents until they are ready, especially if they are living in a non-affirming household.

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Nia Tipton is a writer living in Brooklyn. She covers pop culture, social justice issues, and trending topics. Follow her on Instagram.