A bar in Wisconsin’s Fox Valley raised almost $10,000 to help transitioning folks with their legal name change to help celebrate Trans Day of Visibility (TDoV). 

The idea for the GoFundMe came several weeks before TDoV when Ivy (she/her) was speaking to a good friend of hers at a local bar, Dr. Jekyll’s.

“I was talking to a good friend of mine, his name is Aaron Sidman, who is also a licensed lawyer in the state of Wisconsin, about how difficult and annoying it can be to go through the name change process,” Ivy explained. “That put an idea in his head knowing that TDoV was coming up. He’d like to see if we could do something for me and several other trans patrons of the bar.”

He approached one of the co-owners of the bar, Ben Mollen, and his significant other Anna Glelz, and put together an idea for a fundraiser, along with Hellen Boyd, a Gender Studies professor at Lawrence University. 

The four of them put together that on TDoV, they would match everything the bar made that night.  Donate every donation that night and match it themselves to put toward a fund to help cover the costs of going through name changes, as well as using Aaron as a lawyer to navigate that process.

“Helen had the amazing idea of putting together a GoFundMe because not everybody is comfortable going to bars, even though Dr. Jekyll’s is really strict about the mask policy and COVID precautions — some people just aren’t comfortable with that quite yet,” Ivy said.

The GoFundMe officially went live the Saturday before TDoV — the event was announced the Wednesday prior.

The GoFundMe was closed on April 2 after being live for four days and raised $6,430. The bar was also matching sales that night, too. That raised $1,770 plus matching. There was also a cash jar for folks who wanted to donate but maybe without stopping for a beer, which collected $911.

In total: $9,112.

(Left to right) Helen, Kathy, Ivy, Anna and Ben (last two on far right) gather to celebrate funds raised at Dr. Jekyll’s for TDoV.

“It is absolutely incredible. Just the outpouring of love and support from the community in four days, I’m still blown away by it still; absolutely in shock,” she said. 

Ivy also noted that she’s never seen Dr. Jekyll’s so busy before.

“It was packed; they had to turn people away because of COVID restrictions,” she explained. “There was no opposition whatsoever. It was well-shared on Facebook and through GoFundMe. Nobody had anything nasty to say about it.”

One of the major reasons that folks don’t go forward with a legal name change is due to the cost, as well as just navigating the legal system. It’s difficult for someone who isn’t well versed in the land of legalities and it’s pretty emotionally taxing, so that makes it difficult to just get there by yourself.

And that’s where Aaron came in. 

He’s willing to offer his services as a lawyer to help guide individuals through that process. A portion of the money went directly to Ivy and a couple other people to start the process of changing their names.

There’s another LGBTQ+ organization in Wisconsin called Diverse and Resilient who has locations in Milwaukee and Madison, but the one in Appleton is underfunded compared to those two. 

All of the funds will be donated to the Appleton Diverse and Resilient to help folks who want to get their names legally changed.

“We’ll find something else to help out our trans brothers and sisters here in the Fox Valley for years to come,” Ivy said. “They don’t plan to stop after this first go.”

“I’m really happy that over the last couple years, Trans Day of Visibility has become a much more widely celebrated thing. Before that, all we had was Trans Day of Remembrance, which for a lot of people is not a happy day. 

“I have plenty of trans siblings who unfortunately aren’t with us anymore. And so that’s their day. But we need a day to celebrate too. We’re here, we’re visible and the community loves us. The outpouring of love and support from people around us and absolute lack of hate or or just resistance really goes to show that things are getting better. It’s slow progress, but I’ll take it.”

– Ivy

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