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The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

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The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

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Pitt track and field athlete inducted into Delaware Sports Museum & Hall of Fame
Pitt track and field athlete inducted into Delaware Sports Museum & Hall of Fame
By Grace McNally, Staff Writer • June 13, 2024
Opinion | Long-distance friendships are possible
By Livia LaMarca, Assistant Opinions Editor • June 6, 2024

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Pitt track and field athlete inducted into Delaware Sports Museum & Hall of Fame
Pitt track and field athlete inducted into Delaware Sports Museum & Hall of Fame
By Grace McNally, Staff Writer • June 13, 2024
Opinion | Long-distance friendships are possible
By Livia LaMarca, Assistant Opinions Editor • June 6, 2024

‘We exist and we have to celebrate’: Pitt’s Transgender Working Group hosts ‘Trans Day of Vibing’ Event

Members+of+Prevention+at+Pitt+converse+with+attendees+at+the+%E2%80%9CTrans+Day+of+Vibing%E2%80%9D+event+on+Friday+afternoon+in+the+OHara+Student+Center.
Hannah Levine | Staff Photographer
Members of Prevention at Pitt converse with attendees at the “Trans Day of Vibing” event on Friday afternoon in the O’Hara Student Center.

Pitt’s Transgender Working Group celebrated the international Trans Day of Visibility with its “Trans Day of Vibing” event on March 29. 

“Everyone deserves to be themselves, whoever they are,” Stefanie Mowrey, a member of Pitt’s Transgender Working Group, said. “This [day of recognition] gives us the opportunity [to be ourselves]. It also provides a lifeline, or a hand up, to people who may be questioning whether they themselves are trans. This is the opportunity for them to see that, yeah, you can grow up and be trans.” 

At the event, Dress for Success, an organization that provides clothing for women in any form of transition, set up tables and racks of clothing and made items like feminine products and soap available. The event also featured opportunities to alter clothing with the Center for Creativity, bracelet making, a photo booth, free professional headshots and more. 

Mowrey, a Pitt IT associate and member of Pitt Queer Professionals and the LGBTQIA+ Steering Committee, suggested that the event should have a clothing swap with Dress for Success. She found it important to have masc-presenting representation, even though the organization is typically geared towards fem-presenting individuals such as herself. 

“Dress for Success, traditionally, was for women in transition – meaning women coming out of incarceration, coming out of a marriage where they worked in their home and now have to work in the community, coming out of the military — but it also means me. I’m a woman in transition too, because I came out three years ago as trans. So I needed to spread [this resource] to everybody,” Mowrey said. 

Dress for Success offers “clothing, connections and confidence to self-identified women and gender expansive folks” at no cost, Leora Flax, Dress for Success client experience lead, said. The organization often works with the trans population because “it’s the first time they can come to a place and feel completely safe” trying on clothing without any judgment, according to Flax. 

“Everything is so expensive, and a lot of what we do is clothing for work,” Flax said. “Having that confidence to walk into an interview knowing that you look good can change everything. Knowing that you’re wearing a bra that fits can change everything. It changes your posture, it changes the look on your face. We’re providing the confidence that’s been in you all along, we’re just bringing it back out.” 

Clothing is something that is “extremely personal,” according to Chloe Baierl , Pitt alum and current assistant in the Center for Creativity. Baierl ran a sewing station at the Trans Day of Vibing, where they gave people the opportunity to alter or personalize any clothes they found at the Dress for Success clothing swap. 

“It’s really important to have clothing and self-expression that makes you feel like you, but that also feels comfortable on your body,” Baierl said. “I know that’s really hard for trans people of all types, who have a hard time finding clothing that best fits and reflects their gender identity.” 

Baierl noted how inconsistent, specifically women’s clothing sizing, often is. For the trans community, Baierl said this can make it that much more difficult to find attractive, comfortable clothing. But Baierl wants the LGBTQIA+ community to know that the Center for Creativity is “always here” to lend a helping hand.

“We have the tools that can help [trans individuals] make their own customizations to their clothes — to make them feel better and best reflect, or empower, their identities,” Baierl said. “Even if you just need a spot to hang out on campus, away from the craziness of the world, or need to de-stress with crafts, [you can] find a community through [us].”

Events like the Trans Day of Vibing are so important to Baierl, “especially in election year, where trans rights have unfortunately become such a hot button issue in politics,” they said. Baierl finds the politicizing of trans bodies “so sad and infuriating” for a community who is “just trying to exist.” 

“It’s really important for Pitt to do stuff like this to let trans people know that you belong on this campus, you belong in Pittsburgh … to let them know that we have their backs and we’re gonna try our damndest to [help them],” Baierl said.

Another resource available to anyone on campus, especially the LGBTQIA+ community, is the Office for Sexual Violence Prevention and Education, or Prevention at Pitt, on the 31st floor in the Cathedral of Learning. The office not only provides resources to prevent sexual violence, but is a space that supports survivors “by centering their voices and needs,” Willa Campbell, Pitt alum and prevention educator with Prevention at Pitt, said. 

“We know that sexual violence disproportionately affects people of the LGBTQ community,” Campbell said, “so we know that it’s really important to get them the resources and support that they need, and that our office is a supportive place they can come if they need anything.”

Even to students who don’t identify as trans, such as Katie Denisco, a senior neuroscience and biology student, events like the Trans Day of Vibing need to exist to remind students “that they do have a community on the college campus.” 

“I have a lot of friends in the trans community, and I want them to know that I support them, even if that’s not how I identify,” Denisco said. “I still want them to know that they’re loved and that through everything in life, I’ll always be a part of their journey, and that they’re important.” 

Denisco noted that everybody she met at the event was “so kind, so loving, so inviting.” 

“You walk into a community and it’s just love and appreciation,” Denisco said. 

This is something that Mowrey finds in the trans community, as well, and why she feels highlighting trans existence is crucial. 

“We exist and we have to celebrate our successes,” Mowrey said. “There’s a lot of things that are negatively projected towards us, but generally speaking, we’re filled with joy most of the time. And we need to share that with others and to be visible.”

About the Contributor
Briana Bindus, Staff Writer