The grassroots collective, Gender Affirming Assistance Project (GAAP), is a community-based group based in the Katarokwi/Kingston region that seeks to support two-spirit, trans, non-binary, and gender diverse community members. Two Queen’s students, Jenna Huys and Jane Mao, are leading the initiative that aims to reduce the barriers for people when accessing gender-affirming care and rooting for anti-oppressive, anti-racist, and intersectional ethics of care. GAAP is working with community members, including students from Queen’s University, to provide two services at the currently: gender affirming apparel, and support for name/gender marker changes on identification cards.
“I decided to create this project because, as a psychology student, I’ve learned how important building community and decreasing institutional barriers are to the academic success and social well-being of marginalized communities,” said Mao, one of the organizers and founders of GAAP.
Mao explained that gender-affirming apparel, such as binders, trans tape, breast forms, tucking underwear, and transfeminine clothing, can be used to reduce gender displeasure and gender dysphoria. However, for many people, these items are financially inaccessible.
“The problems of gender dysphoria and financial barriers are also apparent when we see trans and gender diverse individuals trying to change their name and gender markers on IDs, such as their birth certificate, their passport, OHIP card, and more. I teamed up with Sam Connolly, another active member of the Queen’s community, to build a project that hopes to solve both of these issues by offering peer support when connecting people to resources and using a pay-what-you-can system to reduce financial barriers,” Mao explained.
The project has partnered with other Queen’s University student organizers, HIV/AIDS Regional Services (HARS) Kingston, and Addictions and Mental Health Services (AMHS) to make services more accessible to Kingston community members.
“As an organization, we have always been invested in supporting the 2SLGBTQ+ community, and we see this project as an exciting opportunity to support trans, non-binary, and gender non-conforming folks. I see this project as being incredibly important because there are so many barriers which prevent trans people from living their lives as their true selves, something which everyone deserves the opportunity to do,” said Kate Simpson, Women’s Community Development Coordinator at HARS.
She also explained, “Through GAAP, we are able to provide gender-affirming clothing, cosmetics, and even help with name and identity marker changes. Although these things may not seem huge, they are often incredibly inaccessible, and yet they can make a world of difference in people’s everyday lives.”
GAAP has also received funding from the Levana Gender Advocacy Centre, the Queen’s Coalition Against Racial and Ethnic Discrimination (QCRED), and The Education on Queer Issues Project (EQuIP); both groups are run and funded by Queen’s University students. GAAP hopes to incorporate other contributors to the project as the year progresses.
“Within our first week of launching, numerous community groups have reached out in hopes of collaborating, donating, and working with our collective. The outpour of love and support has been wonderful to experience, and we could not be more thankful for the support we’ve received,” Mao expressed.
For anyone interested in donating, GAAP is accepting gender-affirming apparel at their HARS location (844 Princess Street), and also accepting e-transfers to [email protected] (please write in the transfer note “For GAAP”).
Anyone in need of gender-affirming apparel, or requiring financial assistance or guidance in changing legal gender markers, you can do so through this google form: https://forms.gle/JoopyASkuokFdTXXA. For more updates on the project, please go to GAAP’s social media accounts on Facebook and Instagram.