Marsha’s Closet: A Clothes Charity for the Trans Community

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Athens, TN isn’t known for many things outside of Mayfield Dairy products. It’s a sleepy place of less than 13,000 people. In this sleepy town in East Tennessee, there is a thriving PFLAG chapter. Started in 2017, the chapter has survived the first year with lean attendance, COVID-19 and the ups and downs of a volunteer group. Surprisingly, the Athens chapter has attracted upwards of over 40 people at some of their meetings. 

With COVID-19, the Athens Chapter like many organizations in 2020 moved their activities to Zoom – but to stay productive, the chapter leadership decided to take the time to create to entities associated with the chapter. One was the Mama Bears, and the other was a clothes charity for the trans community, it’s called Marsha’s Closet – named after Marsha P. Johnson the trans activist from the Stonewall Riot era.

Marsha P. Johnson was a pioneer in her day, standing for the forgotten people in society. PFLAG Athens also thought that it was important to have a trans woman of color because of the sacrifices and importance of trans women of color to our community. 

The closet is intended to give young transgender people a safe space to come and try on clothing or find something fun. Imagine coming to a place where you can try on the clothing that makes you feel like your true self without judgement. That is the experience we want people to have when they come into the closet. 

The closet is modeled after small west coast boutiques. There is everything from a pink fuzzy vest, to a pink chiffon skirt, to jackets, jewelry, purses and shoes. Anyone can make an appointment to come by and try clothes on…and the clothes are free.

The outpouring of support from the local community has been amazing. The Closet opened its doors with only two shelves of clothing (spread out to fill space), and now people are literally throwing clothes at the closet – nearly a year later we can actually ‘choose’ the clothing we will accept based on need. 

PFLAG Athens wants Marsha’s Closet to be an inspiration and a place for transgender people all over East Tennessee to come and feel special and be treated with dignity and the respect they deserve. 

To schedule a visit, write us at pflagathens@gmail.com or call us at (423) 781-0028. Marsha’s Closet does not have retail hours, but appointments can be at flexible times.