JJ Draper and Geanie Green are two co-founders of the Butterfly Collective. A organization that raises funds for Black and Brown trans people in Milwaukee, though they also put on events like Queer Skate Nights and clothing drives.
JJ and Geanie say that there’s a lot of concerns the Black and Brown trans community needs to be addressed.
“Even in queer spaces, there are white queer people or white trans people who who are who are racist, and there are it like, it just feels like we needed to highlight black and brown trans folks specifically,” JJ says. “Because I feel as though we are like a very marginalized group, even within marginalized spaces.”
“There will be allies that will do their best,” Genie says. “They do phenomenal work to take care of the community, but at the same time there’s other needs that don’t necessarily get met and that’s where we come in to, like, fill the shoe.”
Hence the various programs that Butterfly Co. puts on like in the past they held a self defense class on zoom. Currently, they’re launching B-Fly Radio a radio show feature queer poetry and music. They also host a lot of clothing drives.
“I just know that as a trans person myself that sometimes clothing is the only thing for me that can give me some gender euphoria,” says Geanie. “I’m just a doll and I love clothes. I love fashion. So I was just like, ‘I know, there has to be other dolls and girls and whoever out there that want clothing as well.’”
The need for clothes is by many and they kept getting requests for clothing drives. Though, currently they aren’t sure where they’re going to be storing clothes for future drives. Having a physical space for people to hang out at and where they can accept donations is one thing they’re planning for in the future. At the moment, though, there’s concerns on getting through the coronavirus pandemic which for trans people creates its own hurdles.
It’s very different for trans people, because like, one, we have to find jobs, where we’re going to be respected, where we’re going to be accepted,” Genie says. “But at the same time, it’s also like some of those jobs, they don’t want trans people working there, because in my experience of working in like job searches and whatnot, a lot of employers would view trans people as like, extra work.”
They want to see more places make an intention to keep their spaces safe.
“We want to work to make Milwaukee a more inclusive space for trans folks and become more visible and create more resources for us,” JJ says. “We’d like the community to play a part in that because we can’t do it on our own.”
There’s a lot of work to do and JJ and Jeanie are doing it on top of their day jobs but they’re doing it for the love and needs of their community.