23 December 2021

Interview with The Butterfly Collective

The Butterfly Collective

The Butterfly Collective is a social outreach platform for the QTPOC community in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The Butterfly Collective's mission is to serve black and brown trans and gender nonconforming folks that are in dire need of support, and connect those to a network of resources & events.

Currently, the collective consists of two co-leads, Genie Green and JJ Draper, as well as some of our volunteers who we work with remotely.

Tell us about your work and community organizing

The Butterfly Collective has been active in the community since July of 2020, with our Better Than Ice Cream art show fundraiser and ice cream social. We collaborated with a visual artist by the name of Skully Gustafson (she/her) who sold some of her art pieces and gave half of the proceeds to the collective, and even had some live performances by local Milwaukee artist Flowers Forever (she/her). We were so moved by the fact that we were able to financially assist so many black and brown trans individuals that we knew from our own community, and in tandem be able to put on a really nice event for the community with art and music. Since then, we've been able to collaborate with so many small organizations and nonprofits in Milwaukee, and have been able to be apart of such amazing events like Queer Skate Night and Midcoast MKE. It's so important to us that we can do what we do because so many black and brown folks come from low income families, and a lot of those same individuals are unfortunately shut out from their families because of their identities and need a lot more support than any other demographic. We also feel that social justice and the arts community joining forces is so powerful, because art is oftentimes an outlet for individuals to fully express themselves and their experiences and we want to uplift that and give a platform for those involved in the arts.

What are some of the biggest barriers facing trans and non-binary folks, especially in accessing care?

I would say that the biggest obstacles that trans individuals face are lack of available resources and opportunities. From my own experience, there seems to be a gap in between how trans individuals find out about resources, and the resources themselves. I believe that social media is an amazing tool to get people to know about what's going on in their own communities, because unfortunately a lot of folks don't know that there are places to go for affordable HRT, finding gender affirming clothes, and even just finding other trans people to be in community with and get to know. As far as care such as mental health and primary health care, those can be very expensive, and we are often in need of those services the most, which is why we try our best to raise money to help individuals financially to be able to cover those costs.

People can support our work through donating to the collective's GoFundMe and Venmo (butterflycollectivemke), as well as supporting the events we are a part of and sharing our work around on social media and by word of mouth. We also would love to collaborate more with folks to put on more events, and anyone can reach out to us on all socials to work with us. On an individual level, you can support our work by helping out and uplifting the black and brown trans people that you know. We all need to take care of each other, whether that be financially or emotionally, and as we are a marginalized community we need support. Whether that's through financial or emotional support, even just doing things like giving a black or brown trans individual a ride to work helps further our mission.

— Find out more about The Butterfly Collective work at https://linktr.ee/butterflycollective

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