Last April, one of the most unique spaces on AU’s campus opened in the corner of Mary Graydon Center: The Trans and Queer Cooperative, or TQ Co-Op.
The TQ Co-Op provides clothes, makeup, and other supplies for trans, non-binary, gender non-conforming, and queer students at AU. Everything is available to take at no cost, allowing students on the transgender spectrum to get gender-affirming clothing for free. Students and all members of the AU community are encouraged to donate unused makeup and new clothing to keep the TQ Co-Op full.
Students collaborated with the Center for Diversity and Inclusion (CDI) to create the space. After looking at models from other universities, CDI asked students what they wanted to see from the space and designed the TQ Co-Op around their input.
The space has racks of clothes and a selection of makeup, and it also has a dedicated changing area. Students have the option to privately try on clothes in the changing area or put on a fashion show with friends. Visitors will also encounter the TQ Co-Op’s mascot, a mannequin named Americana who uses any pronouns. They are just one element of the delightful décor—string lights, velvet chairs, striking art prints, and photos of trans and queer icons all bring the space to life.
Khouri Lassiter, the Assistant Director of LGBTQIA Education and Support Programs in CDI, oversees the TQ Co-Op. After just a few months, Lassiter has already seen the TQ Co-Op get a lot of use. They even spotted one student wearing clothes from the TQ Co-Op at the PRIDE affinity graduation.
The upcoming school year presents even more opportunities for students to be involved with the TQ Co-Op. One of AU’s leading queer student groups, AU PRIDE, will be co-owners of the space with CDI. “I’m really excited to see what that looks like with this incoming class and returning students,” Lassiter said. They also hope to bring in trans artists and creators to the space to lead classes on makeup and fashion.
Most of all, Lassiter was excited for AU’s queer students to have “a space where you can come and just be.” Interested students can request swipe access to the TQ Co-Op on their website.