‘Gender Affirming Assistance Project’ awarded Awesome Kingston October grant

Image via GAAP.

Last week, Awesome Kingston awarded their October grant to the ‘Gender Affirming Assistance Project,’ a community-based group in Katarokwi (Kingston) that seeks to provide support to Two-Spirit, trans, non-binary, and gender diverse community members. The $1,000 micro-grant supports local projects the Awesome Kingston trustees think will help keep Kingston awesome.

Jane Mao, Queen’s Psychology graduate, Masters of Education student, and project co-founder, said that the Gender Affirming Assistance Project (GAAP) defines gender affirmation as “behaviours and/or actions that affirm a transgender, nonbinary, and/or gender non-conforming person’s gender identity.” Examples can range from using a transgender person’s pronouns, to a physician supplying a transgender patient with hormones.

“I decided to create this project because, as a recent psychology grad, I’ve learned how important building community and decreasing institutional barriers are to the well-being of marginalized individuals,” Mao stated. “So, I teamed up with Sam Connolly and Jenna Huys, other active members of the Queen’s community, to build a project that hopes to reduce and/or eliminate some issues when accessing gender-affirming care.”

GAAP roots their work in anti-oppressive, anti-racist, and intersectional ethics of care, according to Mao. As such, GAAP are working to provide Katarokwi community members (including Queen’s University students) with two vital services: gender affirming gear (e.g., binders, breast forms, etc.) and social support (e.g., name/gender marker changes on identification cards).

 “GAAP is a group founded by people with multiple marginalized identities, such as queer, racialized, and gender diverse, and our hope is to serve people with the same or similar identities and lived experiences,” said Mao. “When we call GAAP a ‘community group’, we mean that we are satisfying the needs of our own community. For example, when we get requests from someone who is BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, Person of Colour), the GAAP respondent on the receiving end is also BIPOC because we understand the sensitivity needed when navigating the intersection between race and gender.”

“Additionally, 25 per cent of our working budget is set aside to meet the needs of BIPOC,” Mao continued. “This commitment stems from the acknowledgment that Two-Spirit, trans, non-binary, and gender diverse BIPOC are often more likely to experience financial hardship due to the intersection of colonial, racial, class, and gendered oppression.“

Gender affirming apparel, such as binders, trans tape, breast forms, tucking underwear, or transfeminine clothing can be used to significantly reduce gender displeasure and gender dysphoria. However, for many people, these items are financially inaccessible, according to Mao. The problems of gender dysphoria and financial barriers are also apparent when trans and gender diverse individuals try to change their name and gender markers on IDs, such as their birth certificate, their passport, OHIP card, and more. GAAP supports those going through these transitions with peer support, connections to resources, and using a pay-what-you-can system to reduce financial barriers.

Image via GAAP.

“All proceeds from the Awesome Kingston grant would go directly towards our pay-what-you-can system. When respondents request gender-affirming care (e.g., a binder, breast forms, or a name change), we gauge their requests along with their financial needs and barriers, and we then come to a consensus of how much help we can provide,” Mao explained. “If someone is only able to afford 75 per cent of their purchase, Awesome Kingston’s funds would provide 25 per cent coverage for the remaining funds.”

GAAP launched in July and has already received 50 requests and over 100 points of contact for recommendations and networking.

“It’s been so heartwarming to have our work recognized and feel the overwhelming support from our community!” Mao shared.

GAAP has an ongoing donation drive for new and gently used binders, breast forms, and clothing. Their location at HARS is accepting donations from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. every Monday through Thursday. Those with items to donate are asked to access the side door on the left side of the building at 844 Princess Street.

For those hoping to support GAAP, they accept e-transfer donations. “Please donate via e-transfer to [email protected] (write in the notes section ‘For GAAP’) and all proceeds will go directly to us into our pay-what-you-can system,” Mao said.

Contact GAAP at [email protected] and learn more about the initiative through their Facebook and Instagram pages. Read their original pitch on the Awesome Kingston website.

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