When it came time for 18-year-old Girl Scout Ambassador Joy B. from Mesa, Arizona to decide on her Gold Award project, she knew she wanted to do something to help the LGBTQ+ community—especially since she is a member herself.
After learning that young transgender and genderqueer people can face obstacles when obtaining gender-affirming clothing, Joy says, “that’s when I knew I wanted to do a clothing drive for the transgender community.”
Joy’s Gold Award project aimed to support transgender youth by providing free access to gender-affirming clothes through local clothing drives in Phoenix. Her goal was to provide education about the trans community, teach people how to be allies, and create a safe environment for transgender adolescents.
“Clothes are expensive and getting a whole new wardrobe that matches [their] gender identity would cost a lot of money. It can be scary to go out and buy clothes with the fear of being judged,” Joy says.
Joy received funding for her project from grantmaking nonprofit Start the Wave. Clothing was collected from around the state of Arizona by partnering with organizations, universities, events, and businesses that served as donation sites, including Arizona State University, Northern Arizona University, and Phoenix Pride.
The result was enough clothing to fill up a 15-foot truck.
After sorting and organizing all the donated clothing, Joy held a four-day distribution event in partnership with LGBTQ+ owned apparel company, Only Human. Joy also developed educational materials and resources about gender terms and how to be an ally to the transgender community.
Any leftover clothing was donated and delivered to Arizona State University's Rainbow Coalition.
“The most surprising thing was how many people I worked with on this project. Each connection brought on even more connections,” Joy recalls. “I’ve always loved doing community service and the Gold Award was just another way of helping people.”
In her nine years as a Girl Scout, Joy feels the most important things she’s learned are communication skills and community building. “It has taught me to get out of my comfort zone. I’ve tried many things that I wouldn’t have tried if it weren’t for Girl Scouting.”
“Always do your research,” Joy advises people who want to be allies to the LGBTQ+ community. “There is not just one way to be an ally. Whether you're donating to your community or supporting a friend who has just come out, anyone can be an ally.”
Through the Luke Madrigal Indigenous Storytelling Nonprofit, Gold Award Girl Scout Sophia keeps her father’s spirit and her culture alive.