COMMUNITY GEMS: Centerville friends meet clothing needs of transgender community

Closet TRANSformation was founded to give others a safe, private place to shop

Friends and family who are part of the transgender community shared with Amy Monteith and Allison Custar some of their difficulties. In stores, they were told they were shopping in the wrong section or that they couldn’t use a specific dressing room.

“That’s just unacceptable to us,” Monteith said.

The two friends founded Closet TRANSformation to provide clothing to transgender individuals, who schedule an appointment to shop in a safe and private space. The nonprofit organization, which began in 2019, accepts clothing donations and offers sizes XS to 4X, accessories and more.

“Anything people would need to feel affirmed and supported in their gender,” Monteith said.

The two Centerville women are both therapists – Custar, 38, in private practice and Monteith, 42, at Dayton Children’s Hospital. Through their work and as allies, they have been aware of the challenges of this community.

The organization has welcomed about 125 shoppers in a variety of age groups to their location in downtown Dayton, they said. One shopped for an outfit for an eighth-grade year-end dance. Another was in their mid-40s. The feedback has shown it to be successful.

“We have had people who have literally said it’s lifesaving,” Monteith said.

Suicide rates are high among LGBTQ individuals, but they are even higher in the transgender community, and that is often because they aren’t supported, she said. This community often faces additional marginalization, Custar said.

“As a therapist, in a helping profession, it tugs on my heartstrings,” she said.

Ashley Christian is Monteith’s sister and nominated the women as Dayton Daily News Community Gems. She was the first to donate clothing to the organization.

“I think they saw a need in our community that had been unmet. They could have easily looked the other way because it doesn’t impact them, but they didn’t,” said Christian, also of Centerville.

The organization is a passion for both Custar and Monteith, Christian said, and they do it on top of managing their homes and careers. Christian said that helping others has always been important to Monteith, even when she was younger.

“And she’s always surrounded herself with like-minded individuals,” Christian said.

Custar said that the experience is meaningful for the individuals who visit Closet TRANSformation, and it also can be emotional for her and Monteith. Monteith told of a transgender foster child who arrived with a hoodie pulled so tightly that only the eyes and nose could be seen. That person left with a huge bag of clothes and a smile.

“That was one of our first customers, and to this day it sticks in my mind that we made such a difference in their life,” she said.

Information about setting up an appointment with Closet TRANSformation or donating can be found at

Custar said that the two of them, who both were born and raised in the Dayton area, want to encourage a supportive, affirming community that allows individuals to be the truest version of themselves. Ultimately, she hopes the area one day will no longer need an organization like Closet TRANSformation.

“We want to see people doing their very best in life and be able to hold their head up high and be a part of the community,” Monteith said.

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