Known as “the Gee twins for lupus,” identical siblings Kirsten Maeda and Deidre Baptista have spent the last two decades spreading awareness of the autoimmune disease, which struck Deidre in 1996. (She’s currently in remission.) Sporting handmade brocade butterflies – inspired by the shape of a common lupus rash as well as their Chinese heritage – the San Francisco-born sisters speak at conferences, attend fundraisers and lobby government officials about the malady, which disproportionately affects women and people of color.
The lookalike factor helps draw attention to the twins’ message, they say. It also causes double takes and amusing moments in their personal lives.
“When our children were little, they got us mixed up and often called us both ‘Auntie Mommy,’” Baptista recalls.
One surefire way to tell the women apart: Baptista is right-handed, and Maeda is a lefty.