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Arts & Life

Transgender South Dakotans will soon have a new place to go shopping

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Stephanie Marty
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Stephanie Marty's apartment where she's been running the Transformation Closet

Stephanie Marty’s house is overflowing with boxes of clothes.

“You know, I thought honestly I could put a rack up in one of the bedrooms in the apartment and, you know, that would be that,” she said.

Marty runs the Transformation Closet, a service offered by the Transformation Project, a South Dakota nonprofit that supports transgender people and educates the public on gender identity and expression. Transgender individuals can make an appointment to shop privately for clothing that reflects their gender identity. All for free.

Marty has been operating out of her Sioux Falls home with the help of volunteers, but she has received so many donations that she needs a bigger space. Marty hopes to move into that space soon.

Marty said the community support is overwhelming, and running the Transformation Closet is personal for her. Marty’s a trans woman and knows firsthand how important clothes and appearance can be when transitioning.

“I'm 67 years old, retired, and came out before I retired. And just thinking about, you know, you've been around these people that you've known a good part of your life," she said. "And now you're dressing differently, your hair is different, you’re coloring your nails.”

Marty works closely with Susan Williams, the founder of the Transformation Project. Williams said many trans people don’t feel comfortable going shopping.

“It's very challenging when you're coming out, and you're needing a new wardrobe, to have the money to be able to do that and also to feel confident and comfortable shopping,” she said.

Williams plans to expand the service soon.

“We're going to be debuting a shipping program where trans people from across the state can go online and fill out a form," she said. "And we will actually go through the closet and handpick some outfits for them to be sent to their home.”

There is no set date for when the Transformation Closet will move, but Williams said it should be before Christmas.

Follow the Transformation Project on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for more information.