Staffers offer to ‘assist’ students with ‘anything [they] might need’
An LGBT-themed office at the University of North Texas has a closet full of “gender-affirming” items available to students who wish to present themselves as the opposite sex, “free of charge.”
The “OUTfits Clothing Closet,” a project of the university’s “Pride Alliance” office, “is a donation-based resource” that is accessible to students year-round, according to a description on UNT’s website.
Among the available items are chest binders, which women use to constrict their breasts in an attempt to appear less female, as well as “packers,” bra inserts, makeup, and other “personal care products.”
“Packers” are prosthetic objects resembling male sexual organs that women wear beneath their undergarments.
UNT staff in charge of the closet also accept donations of “top surgery pillows” used to recover from a mastectomy.
“In order to access OUTfits, stop by the Pride Alliance and let our staff know you want to use ‘The Closet,’” the description states. “We will unlock it for you, give you a tour, and assist you with anything you might need.”
The College Fix asked UNT’s media team via email why it is necessary to supply these items to students and how the university has devoted resources or funding to the closet but did not receive a response to two inquiries sent in the past two weeks.
Staff have relocated the closet multiple times and made various renovations since its debut in 2014, according to UNT’s website.
Jamal King, assistant director of the Pride Alliance, explained to The Fix that the office has expanded this transgender initiative beyond the UNT campus.
“We’ve worked with a number of campuses around the country and here in Texas to give additional support in creating free clothing resources for students,” King wrote in an email.
King clarified that high school seniors who live on campus as part of UNT’s early college residential program may not access the closet.
An ethicist criticized the closet in comments to The Fix.
Nathanael Blake, an ethicist and researcher at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, called it “wrong” for a university to provide such items to young people.
“University mental health resources should help students accept their natural, healthy bodies,” Blake said via email.
“Encouraging students in the false belief that they can somehow become (or in some mystical way, already are) the opposite sex is wrong,” Blake said. “It will push some students toward a lifetime of dangerous medical interventions.”
“The provision of breast binders is especially troubling because they can cause physical harm,” Blake added.
“There is information available in the closet and in-person from trained staff on correct ways to wear and size for the binder,” King, the Pride Alliance administrator, told The Fix.
Chest binding has already been associated with numerous health risks, as The Fix has reported.
An LGBT clinic in San Francisco found that binding may cause “permanent damage to the breasts, which will alter their final shape” and that binding too tightly can cause “chronic pain” by disrupting spinal alignment.
A 2016 survey of 1,800 adults who used binders found 97 percent of them experiencing back or chest pain, shortness of breath, overheating, scarring, or possible rib fractures.
The Pride Alliance is one of many “diversity, equity, and inclusion” initiatives that could face further scrutiny under a pending bill.
Texas Senate Bill 17 would eliminate programs “designed or implemented in reference to race, color, ethnicity, gender identity, or sexual orientation” in public institutions of higher education. The state legislature has passed the bill and awaits Gov. Greg Abbott’s signature.
IMAGE: UNT Pride Alliance/Facebook