Sewing for All – Standing up against anti-trans legislation

Sewing for All

At the beginning of last year the crew at Confident Stitch sat down to do some re-evaluating. I’d decided that our website needed an update. The goal was to make it as user-friendly as possible, but, as we talked through revamping our ‘About’ page and read over our mission statement, I came to the realization that the changes I wanted to make were more than cosmetic.

When I first opened Confident Stitch 6 years ago the mission statement I settled on was ‘To uplift and empower women through sewing‘. However, as my crew sat together, discussing the things we’ve done and the many things we hope to do, I realized that this mission statement no longer quite reflects who we are.

It was this realization that led to our new tagline: Sewing for All.

The meaning of the phrase

At Confident Stitch, we believe that sewing is for people of all abilities, shapes, ages, genders and personalities. “Sewing for All” means we’ll meet you where you are, whether you’ve never picked up a needle or you’re an award-winning quilter. It also means we want to inspire each individual to tap into and appreciate all that they are.

In 2023, I’ll be exploring the many aspects of “Sewing for All”. But, given recent events, I feel that it’s very important to talk today about the ‘all shapes and genders‘ portion of this improved mission statement specifically in regards to those who are transgender.

'Talking Politics'

Trans flag, represented by bias tape.
Trans flag, represented by bias tape.

Before you ask me not to talk about politics in the sewing space, let me point out that I wish people’s gender identities weren’t a political matter. But for decades now (and especially since 2019), they’ve increasingly become so.

What’s more, I fervently believe that discouraging discussion of this topic (and others like it) is just another way to let traditionally marginalized peoples know that they’re not welcome to be themselves.

In order to call ourselves a safe space, I believe that Confident Stitch must encourage conversations of expression and identity, and absolutely refuse to entertain those who would tolerate hate or discrimination.

A Nationwide Epidemic

If you haven’t been living under a rock, then you’re well aware that explicit legislation attacking transness has increased tenfold in the past several years.

CNN graphic displaying the explosion in anti-LGBTQ legislation over recent years (click on image to visit article)
CNN graphic displaying the explosion in anti-LGBTQ legislation over recent years (click image to read article)

In 2018, State Legislatures in the US introduced a little less than 50 bills seeking to restrict LGBTQIA+ people’s freedoms, rights, and healthcare access. Just five years later, in 2022, State Legislatures introduced 180 such bills, and in 2023 over 400 similar bills have already been introduced. Most of these bills are very similar to each other because they are all written by national advocacy groups, such as ‘The Alliance Defending Freedom’.

April 2023 Anti-Trans Legislative Risk Map, by Erin Reed of Erin In The Morning (click image to read article)

Close to Home

This brings me to the recent antics of the Montana Legislature and other state legislatures around the country. In Montana, Republicans have a supermajority in the legislature, and they are using it to pass bills to: “protect” children from prurient drag shows; enshrine a definition of sex in State Law; remove calling a child by their legal name from the bullying-in-education statute, and to outlaw gender-affirming care for minors.

I did a quick search of national newspapers and discovered that many other states are proposing the exact same bills. These bills aren’t ‘local solutions to local problems’, they are part of a coordinated effort by conservative think tanks to “eradicate transgenderism” (casual genocidal rhetoric), as Michael Knowles said at the CPAC conference.

Why does it matter?

So why am I bringing all this up, and what exactly does it have to do with sewing?

I bring it up because what’s happening is incredibly dangerous. And – perhaps because it doesn’t directly affect the cisgendered community – it’s not being taken seriously.

So allow me to articulate its severity in no uncertain terms: sinister language and legislation of this ilk has has nothing to do with protecting children (quite the opposite), and it has historically led to mass genocide. If we fail to recognize this fact, history will repeat itself.

Sew what..?

What has this got to do with sewing? In some ways, nothing. But I see it as my responsibility as an ally to use my platform to share knowledge and awareness.

However, on a more philosophical level, I believe that these topics interconnect because sewing as a craft is, and always has been, used as a means to resist, rebel, and connect.

Every person who makes clothes – whether they’re in possession of all the physical attributes they were born with or not – has, at one point or another, had to alter a pattern to make it fit. And this ability – this power – is proof that our bodies, who we are and how we’re shaped, is not the problem.

Rather the problem is a systemic belief that there is a ‘wrong’ way to be. Cultivated fear and misdirection is being used to divide us. But the truth is, sewing has already armed us with the skills we need to understand that our differences in appearance, presentation, and expression isn’t something to be feared.

Allies speak up!

To me, “Sewing for All” means being proactively inclusive of marginalized groups. In Montana, the Republican Super Majority seems to agree with Michael Knowles that transgenderism should be eradicated. I’m here to say that this is indisputably, unequivocally WRONG.

Allies of the trans and queer communities need to be more vocal than ever. Now is the time to spread the word. Talk about what’s going on. Advocate for trans people in your workplace. Advocate for trans people in public spaces. Give testimony against anti-trans bills. CALL AND EMAIL YOUR REPRESENTATIVES.

Anything we can do to prevent trans people from feeling alienated is productive. Let your allyship be known! Wear a pin, post on social media, attend meetings and protests, get involved in mutual aid and give where you can.

You belong here

Transgender people have always, and will always exist. Transgender people want nothing more than to live long and happy lives, undisturbed by the everyday negative comments and stares that come from just being themselves. Undisturbed by hate-filled legislators. They need your allyship to get there, and they need it now.

And to the members of our trans community, please know that Confident Stitch is a safe place for you. We love you, we care about you, and we want you here. Just as you are.

Much love,

Reach out & donate!

Places to Donate:

Call and email your state Representatives to let them know that you are against anti-trans and anti- drag legislation.

Montana Senators & Representatives

Matt Rosendale Contact Info:

  • Washington, DC Office – (202) 225-3211
  • Helena District Office – (406) 502-1435
  • Billings District Office – (406)-413-6720
  • Great Falls District Office – (406) 770-6260

Ryan Zinke Contact Info:

  • Whitefish Office – (406) 862-0823
  • Washington, DC Office – (202) 225-5628

Jon Tester Contact Info:

  • Helena – (406) 449-5401
  • Missoula – (406) 728-2193
  • Washington, DC – (202) 224-2644

Steve Daines Contact Info:

  • Washington, DC  – (202) 224-2651

86 thoughts on “Sewing for All – Standing up against anti-trans legislation

  1. Mary J Karuzas says:

    WOW good for you !!!! I agree!!!!! Hate has no place in our homes, our nation and our hearts. Blessings !!

  2. Heidi says:

    Thank you! I appreciate your ongoing allyship and effort to make the world we live in a better and safer space.

  3. Rose Rademan says:

    Thank you Kate. Thank you for your concern and we all need to speak up and speak out!! It’s up to everyone to not let these terrible trends continue and we need to excersise our free speech. Before it’s gone.

  4. TC Ferrito says:

    Thank you for speaking up! I work in NYS and advise school districts on policy, law and regulation. We’ve dealt with these issues many times in the last 5 years. Granted, it’s much easier in liberal NY. And yet I was shocked to learn that our HR office was still using the term “his or her”. No, it’s “they”. I also saw a study that said if a number of younger folks moved to places like Montana, with just a few new residents, the state could turn blue. My nephew and his partner are now in Bozeman. Yes, I do sew to relax. But my sewing also makes a statement. It’s another visual representation of me. So keep speaking up. I’ve got your back!

    • Arlo Smytheman says:

      Thanks for your words of support! It’s becoming increasingly difficult for us trans folk to stay in the state, but we will not back down! Trans people belong in Montana!

  5. Tracy says:

    This is a beautifully written, informative post. Thank you for speaking up, particularly as a business owner. It can be frightening to speak up on behalf of the marginalized when your livelihood is on the table along with your views. Love your shop and your voice!

  6. Stephanie Busby says:

    Hi Kate,
    Thank you for such an eloquent report. I commend you as a small business owner for standing up and speaking out. I’m sure not everyone will be supportive of your decision. Such a sad shameful state of affair. I live in Idaho and come to Flathead lake every summer and always make a stop into your store. I’m also part of the garment swatch program which I love. We need a Confident Stitch
    Shop here in Eagle/Boise. All we have is quilt shops and Joann’s. I so miss being involved in a sewing for all place. You have me as an Ally.

    • DeeAnna says:

      1000% agree! Thank you for taking a stand and being vocal. Everyone has a right to be who they are and become who they are meant to be. I think this absolutely relates to you not only on a personal level but as a business owner and employer. Creating a safe space for others to work, create, and teach is a must. Likewise, your community spaces must be safe as well so as not to exclude anyone and for all to have a fun and creative exchange. So thank you thank you!! I’m even more of a Confident Stitch fan now!! Xox

  7. Melia Fortunati says:

    Yes! Trans people are PEOPLE and deserve to live their lives as freely as some old white cis dude. The anti LGBTQIA+ hysteria is repulsive and I appreciate you using your platform to tout allyship. Hopefully we will see some more pride fabric available for all the things,

  8. Susan says:

    Thank you Kate. I am so happy to do business with you. We have these ugly laws here in Utah as well and while I have been thinking of writing my local “representatives” I have not put pen to paper. Today will be the day.

  9. Nina Cramer says:

    Kate,. Wonderful blog post. I join you in speaking up. Conversation brings understanding, knowledge, and hopefully we will do better as a society. When someone says to me “it’s none of my concern or I don’t want to get involved”. I remind them of the poem about the Holocaust that speaks to how no one came as “they” targeted specific groups of people. We must all speak up.

  10. Dianne Ludwig says:

    Hi Kate – Thank you for your words. I live in one of those safe States, but believe strongly that all people should be safe to live their lives in whatever State they live. For me, I will be writing to my legislators thanking them for keeping up the good work to keep us all safe. And standing up against anti-trans movements in Montana however I can.

    • Arlo Smytheman says:

      Thank you, Dianne! It’s becoming increasingly difficult to stay in Montana for us trans folk, but we won’t back down. Your support means the world.

  11. Sabre Alderete says:

    Thank you for taking the time to articulate what needs to be said and bringing awareness to us all. Yes, sewing is for ALL!

  12. Beth Wilson says:

    Thank you Kate and team for speaking out on such an important issue, and for the people. I believe the sewing/maker community is an open-minded group and I applaud your courage to take a stand and speak your truth.
    We are with you. I forwarded the page to all my family to spread the word.

  13. Sandra says:

    Speaking up for what is right is not easy for many. I believe even harder as a small business. Thank you for sharing this important information including how people can become a better ally. I also commend you for standing up for all. I will be sharing your blog post with other sewists and will be making a purchase today.

  14. Stephanie says:

    Thank you so much, Kate 🧡 I was sitting here trying to remember how I found you and signed up for your newsletter, where I connected to this beautiful empowering post. It was a specific flannel I was looking for to line a coat.
    As a parent of an adult transgender person, I’m on the lookout for information which helps me to be a better ally to their community. You have done just that. Thank you.

    • Arlo Smytheman says:

      Thank you for your support, Stephanie. I love to see parents of trans folk educating themselves on trans issues!

  15. Janet Anderson says:

    Thank you for this beautifully written and well researched post. I am in Utah and our legislature is much the same as yours. A republican super majority that focuses on hate and division instead of dealing with the real problems in the state, such as exploding population growth, water shortages and educational deficiencies to name just a few.
    I am happy to do all I can as an Ally in this fight.

    • Arlo Smytheman says:

      Thanks for your support! I know – there are so many other REAL issues our governments should be dealing with! Keep speaking up in Utah!

  16. Linda Baldwin says:

    Count me as an Ally though I live in Washington. I visit your store every time I’m in the area and belong to the swatch club. I applaud you for speaking out. To paraphrase, “All that it takes for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing”.

  17. Kelly Cavan says:

    Thank you. I don’t know if I have the words. I have sometimes wished businesses were more openly welcoming and accepting, but I know intellectually that they don’t want to risk their business. I get it, I really do.

    But this post brought me to tears. I didn’t realize how much I needed this. So thank you.

  18. Antoinette Vitrano says:

    Kudos for your willingness to discuss this very volatile issue. Thank goodness there are people and places like Confident Stitch. As a teacher, my open support of my students who were part of the LGBTQ drew heavy criticism and, unfortunately, even overt bullying-type actions. THANK YOU for being such a great role model to us all.

    • Arlo Smytheman says:

      Thanks for doing the amazing work of being a teacher who supports their LGBTQ students! We need more of you!

  19. Mari says:

    Kate, thank you for being a voice in this scary time. I agree with your statement that “However, on a more philosophical level, I believe that these topics interconnect because sewing as a craft is, and always has been, used as a means to resist, rebel, and connect.” Sewing has also always been a means to express yourself even when you are not sure it’s safe.

  20. Martha says:

    Thank you for your support. People should always be free to be as they need to be. My family is composed of several
    gay members and If they are loving, caring and supportive of each other then it is fine with me. There are so many relationships that are not regardless of their sexual preferences. I do live in California so the opinions are more liberal than some other states for which I am grateful.

  21. Martha says:

    I know this must be a difficult decision for a small business owner. I too applaud your courage to do the right thing.

  22. Jesse says:

    One of the first things I sewed was a dress for my child with a body of ocean-blue fabric and multicolored octopuses and a pink collar and sleeves with dinosaur skeletons. They’re now ten and out as non-binary, but at the time, they were three and known to the world as a boy. The dress is now in well-loved tatters in their memory box. That act of sewing was one of the first times that I went to meet my child where they were, and I think it really set the tone for our relationship. Thank you for putting all of this down in words so eloquently, and as someone with deep roots in Montana, I’m glad to see the best side of the state speaking clearly and taking a stand.

    • Mary says:

      Beautiful story. I am new to quilting and happened upon this small business and this post. I was so happy to see like minded and brave people willing to speak out. Thank you and thank you Kate!

  23. KA says:

    People need to be vocal and stand up for basic human decency in the face of all the bigotry being promoted in this country right now. Sadly, KS has already done damage and will probably do worse soon. Living in a red state (me) makes it even more important to be heard locally. Thank you for posting this.

  24. Joy Lukes says:

    Good for you for speaking up! Great, reasonable, thoughtful points that need to be brought up. I will always be a loyal Confident Stitch customer!

  25. Alice Locke says:

    I applaud you for your courage to speak up! I live in the Seattle area, love your store and products and this makes me even more determined to support your business, usually via online orders. I’m 70 years old and have watched and listened with dismay for the past 10 years or so as the ugly head of misinformation, hate, and bigoted rhetoric has reared it’s head regarding the LGBTQ community.

    • Liz Tobosa says:

      Alice, as someone of similar age, who also lives near Seattle, I can relate to your words completely. I think Kate shows such leadership by connecting her values of “sewing for all” with support of the LGBTQ. Next time I’m in my home state of Montana, I will be stopping by the Confident Stitch to meet her!

  26. Catherine Ockey says:

    Thank you! As a former small business owner, I know how hard it is to speak up like this. However, as the very lucky grandmother of an amazing thirteen-year-old transgender granddaughter, I watch this all play out on a very personal level. Not only are you and your staff really good humans, you also have a fabulous store. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  27. Kc Nelson-Oliveria says:

    Thank you to you Kate and the crew for speaking up and living out your values. Inclusiveness in all aspects of identity is what the world needs more of. When people think of someone as “other” it usually comes from a fear that they themselves might be cast out if not seen as part of the “norm”. Let us remember to show grace to those who live in fear, that they might learn to embrace the wonderful differences and experience the joy of being in community with each other.

  28. Carole Ann Sterner says:

    If anyone has read the novel written by George Orwell, “Animal Farm” this is exactly the tactic used to elevate one class of animals over all the rest. I’m not gay or transgender but I realized at an early age that discrimination of one group has a high probability of spreading out to others. No one is less than anyone else, we all have the same needs, feelings, desires, and hopes. Color of skin, gender, language, religion, or whatever is never to be used to discriminate against someone. I totally support your speaking about this grave danger that is facing our nation, stand up for human rights always!!!!

  29. Donna says:

    Thanks for addressing one of the many issues in this country that are being politicized! It seems to me many of the members of one political party have just lost their minds and certainly have lost their empathy for anyone who may not look like them. I agree with your thoughts and thanks for being an inclusive website!

  30. Lora says:

    Thank you so much for speaking in support of all people. None of us is free until all of us are free and equal and enjoying the same rights and protections.

  31. Linda says:

    This country, as evidenced by our voting and court systems, is based on majority rule, minor inform. The LGBTQ ETC. minority has been trying to shove their %8 of the population opinions down our throats for years now. No. No more. It is disgusting and unnatural, especially for anyone who is too young to buy a drink. I believe God loves everyone and I pray that I become more Christ like every day. I hate no one, but I will not condone beastiality. I will pray for your business and for that community of people. Please know that you have lost my business. God bless you and give you continued favor.

  32. zupanecc says:

    During a week of one political horror after another, your intelligent and thoughtful essay was a clarion call. My nephew is transgender and I know finding his place in the world hasn’t always been easy. And that makes me angry because he wants what we all want—family, friends, love, purpose, acceptance. Thank you!
    PS. Wish I lived in Missoula so that I could join the Sewcialist Union!

  33. Debora McGuiness says:

    Thank you and your staff for representing what I believe we all should strive to become. Supporting each other in understanding and recognizing how special each and every living thing is on this fragile planet we are fortunate to live upon.

  34. Kylie Spooner says:

    Thank you for this, Kate. What a delight to find this in my inbox this morning. I so appreciate you bravely speaking this truth in a conservative state and standing up for people who are in such a desperate situation right now. I vote whenever I can, I call my legislators and I also vote with my wallet. You have my vote!

  35. Chris says:

    Thank you for this!
    Any group of people being targeted just makes my heart sink. Live and Let Live, for a diverse, fun and interesting world.

    On a personal note, my adult niece has fond memories of our drag queen friend teaching her to tap dance when she was a little girl.

  36. Elizabeth says:

    Thank you for speaking so eloquently on this important subject. You are leading a great example of being a supportive business and advocate. I applaud you. And thank you for posting the information to contact our reps too! I will definitely be reaching out.

  37. Echo says:

    It really pleased me to see this in my email. I enjoy shopping online (and occasionally in store) and reccomend your store to other sewists I know, in part because it DOES feel like a place where everyone is welcome. I will continue to support your store because I believe that should be the norm. It saddens me it is not necessarily. Throwing your weight and business behind something is frightening and huge move and I applaud you for standing for what you know to be right.

  38. Lisa Bonds says:

    THANK YOU. THANK YOU. THANK YOU. I have the luxury of living in a state where we just passed a law making us a trans sanctuary (MN). And—I am still fighting for every state to be a sanctuary where people can be who they are. You rock!

  39. Jo says:

    I was not out when I lived in MT and have since moved to a safer state but still have family in MT. I have been toiling over the decision about whether to return to MT and frankly am afraid I might not be safe there. Thank you for creating safe space in your shop. I will be sure to stop by when I am there visiting this summer (a trip with the aim of making the decision about returning).

  40. LM says:

    Kate, Thank you for being open-minded and brave. Appreciate your efforts and willingness to create a safe place to shop and meet us just as we are. You are an awesome ally.

  41. Nadine says:

    So well written….I affirm all that you said. I will continue to support your shop with online orders and subscriptions….you’re so RIGHT in your thoughts. Carry on….I am an Ally!

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