The Yukon Pride Centre has launched a new program providing gender-affirming clothing to Yukoners.
It will provide trans, two-spirit and non-binary Yukoners with free access to gender gear including chest binders, breast forms and bras, gaffs, packers and shapewear.
According to Ames Val, the program development manager, the Gender Gear program will fill a gap long felt in the territory.
“It’s been on the radar through a few different organizations for the past little bit,” Val said.
The Gender Gear Program is in partnership with BYTE, Northern Voices Rising and GenderGear.ca.
Val said these organizations receive “at least a few” requests for gender-affirming clothing every month.
Items from GenderGear.ca, an Ontario-based company, can range between $40 and $100.
“The goal of the program is to make it as easy as possible for folks to access it,” Val said.
Yukoners interested in receiving gear can fill out a form on the Queer Yukon website, with itemized requests for specific gear from the GenderGear website. Information provided through the registration process will be strictly confidential.
The deadline to request items for this round of funding is Feb. 15. Individuals are encouraged to request as many items as they need, however, one item per person will be prioritized in this first round.
The program is funded by the Canadian Red Cross and Canadian government. Gender Gear is also accepting monetary and gear donations from the public.
“We are looking at trying to provide at least 50 items for the first round — we’ve gotten almost 20 applications by this point,” Val said, noting they are expecting more applications will be submitted closer to deadline.
Anyone in the Yukon and bordering communities can apply for the program. The gender gear will be available for pick-up in Whitehorse, Watson Lake or Dawson City. Items can also be delivered to anywhere in the territory.
Val said that the impact of gender-affirming clothing is very individual.
“Essentially, gender gear helps you present physically the way that you want to, and the way that is true to who you are,” Val said.
“Often there are certain things that can make you feel comfortable or that can signal to other people what your gender is. So the gear really just helps everyone have access to a quality of life you might not have been able to have before.”
The gender gear can also be a mechanism for safety, Val said.
“Often, trans folks can face quite a bit of violence, and some of that is tied to external presentations,” they explained.
For many people who use gender gear, it can help with mental health and self esteem, Val added.
“It can help when you’re going into situations or interacting with people day-to-day, they don’t have those kind of things that people are trained to look for to gender somebody — they aren’t necessarily there, so it can really help with misgendering and assumptions.”
Contact Gabrielle Plonka at email@example.com