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It’s that time of year where everyone's talking about “new year, new me!” and “out with the old, in with the new.” For some people, decluttering and downsizing is a huge part of that process. There are plenty of articles out there that give you tips and tricks on how to do this properly, but very few articles take into consideration the effect that being transgender has on the decluttering process. When I first did the minimalism challenge in January of this year, I found that my decluttering process was guided by my experience as a trans person. For example, when downsizing my jewelry collection, the items personalised with my dead name were among the first things to go. So if you’re trans, and thinking of decluttering for the new year, this article is here to offer some unique tips and tricks. Please keep in mind that these are all only suggestions, and they may not all work for everyone.
Think about decluttering any clothing that makes you dysphoric, or makes dysphoria worse, regardless of the gender it’s aimed at. I used to own a really nice dress shirt, which was aimed at men and off the hanger looked amazing and I loved it. However, when I wore it, I felt SO terrible. So it just sat there on the hanger, taking up space and making me feel bad every time I looked at it. If it’s something you really want to hang on to because you really want to wear it in the future, consider putting it aside in a box for future you. That way it’s out of the way until you are ready.
Worn out undergarments have no place in your life! Binders stretch out over time and become less effective if not dangerous. Bras that dig in and cause pain aren’t going to give you the support you need—and they can even cause permanent damage. Shapewear that give you a much different shape than they did when they were new are not worth your time. Get rid of them and treat yourself to some new ones!
Clothes that don’t fit: Clothes that used to fit you beautifully may not fit you in the same way moving forward. With clothes that you want to fit into in the future, there’s no surefire way to know what your body will look like, weeks, months, and years down the line. Perhaps keep a few of these pieces, but not loads.
Shoes that don’t fit: Feet aren’t well known for changing much. It’s safe to throw out any ill-fitting shoes that could be causing pain, give blisters, and pinching.
Anything you bought to “fit in” that you don’t love. You are beautifully you, so don’t try to be someone you’re not with clothes that don’t make you feel like you. Fuck stereotypes, and fuck wearing anything that doesn’t make you feel amazing!
What can you do with clothing you get rid of?
Give it to other trans people! We’ve all experienced the clothing struggle at one point or another. Some of us have unsupportive families which are less than helpful in getting new clothes that match how we feel. Some of us struggle with finances and can’t always afford to experiment with clothing. Some of us are simply too shy to take the plunge. You never know how much of a difference a gift like this could make.
Sell it! The money you make can be put towards new clothes, new shoes, new underwear. It could be put towards travel costs to appointments. It could be put in your tattoo fund. Who doesn’t love a little extra cash?
Not quite ready to let go? Repurpose it! You could make your old favourite t-shirt into a cushion cover, or a quilt, or a zero-waste grocery bag. You could fix a hole in your favourite jeans by stitching a patch of your favourite old shirt in! The possibilities are endless.
Donate it to a charity shop! Your contribution can help charities earn much needed money, and you can spread your gifts over many charities while helping someone else grab a bargain and share the love.
Recycle! There are many locations that have fabric donation bins. This is best for clothes that are damaged beyond repair, completely worn out, shrunk in the wash, discoloured, and unusable clothes. Try to avoid throwing clothes directly into the trash to reduce their environmental impact.
It’s well-known that our community is tend to experience higher rates of mental health issues than the general population. If you’re holding on to old prescriptions that didn’t work for you, take them to the pharmacy for proper disposal.
Don’t get rid of anything you are using without first consulting a doctor!
If you used to bind with ace bandages and have since stopped, do you need to hold on to those supplies? Binding like this is dangerous and it should be avoided, so are you able to remove the temptation?
Out of date medicines should be taken to a pharmacy for proper disposal. If an active prescription has expired, speak to your pharmacist or general practitioner before getting rid of it.
Old lotions and creams: Whether they’ve expired, been open waaaay longer than recommended, or were just bought by you in the past and no longer appeal to you, get rid of them. Unopened and in-date lotions can be donated to charity or to family and friends; whereas opened or expired product can just be thrown away. Try to recycle the packaging as much as possible.
If it’s in any way important, KEEP IT. For example, your birth certificate. The following tips definitely do not apply to your birth certificate.
Consider throwing out anything with your dead name on it that you can’t get changed, especially if you have never had any need for it. For example, I had a certificate in recognition of 100 hours of volunteer work. I hadn’t used it on my CV in many years, and I couldn’t get my name updated on it. It was just sitting there with no purpose, and in handing it over to an employer I would have outed myself. So I got rid of it with no regrets. If you don’t need to keep the physical copy, but you’re fond of the memory, consider digitizing it! Scan it into a computer and save it on a hard drive instead of keeping the paper itself.
Old letters for school trips and projects: Why are we keeping these? Digitize it for the memories if you must, but get rid of it.
Old name tags: Why are we keeping these? These can’t be updated, and what purpose will they ever have? You could take photos of them to preserve the memories, but they serve no purpose anymore, so consider getting rid of them.
Old transcripts that no-one has ever asked for: The individual module marks for each subject I took for GCSE has been no use to anyone since I left school, and my name can’t be changed on it. I have the certificates still, which even have some of the marks on them anyways, so why keep the transcript?
Receipts and tickets you can’t claim back for—why? I had receipts for medical care that I can’t claim back for because they’re dated over three months ago. I’ve had the care, and I have the memory, why was I keeping the receipt? It was just sitting around reminding me how much money I spent. Get rid!
Doctors letters that can easily be reproduced: If you are in any doubt that you need to keep them, then definitely DO, or consider digitizing them as well. But if it can be reproduced if you need it, why hang on to it?
If you have any photos that make you feel bad, why not get rid of them, too? I had a whole collection of photos of just after I came out, when I was trying too hard to fit in and be seen in a certain way, that I couldn’t stand to look at anymore… so I got rid of them. And I feel so much better for it.