Tell us about your relationship to Astraea.
I’ve been a donor to Astraea since 1996. That’s 20 years now! I’ve been able to step it up since the beginning. We started with an international fund for Astraea. The greatest moment for me was when I heard from [Executive Director Emerita] Katherine Acey and she said, “We’ve looked at what we did these past two years and now we want to take it on as our own program. We will start fundraising for the International Fund.” To me, that was arrival. This was, “Yes, this can work out. I do want a long-term partner. Astraea can do that.”
Another memorable moment I’ve had with them, unforgettably, was at a conference in Dallas, Texas. It was an anniversary for Astraea. There were many women there. A donor organized for people there at the convention to make commitments to giving money to Astraea at the event. On the final day there was a queue through the entire hall of women lining up making spoken commitments to Astraea on the microphone. And the Astraea staff just died. They were sitting there on stage! There was just so much emotion.
Why is Astraea the organization for you?
Internal support is so strong. This organization will continue to grow well. As someone who understands the difficulties in growing and the relief when the major institutional grants come through. When major foundations in the US say, “Yes, we back Astraea! We have them a major grant,” we include them in our major portfolio. That’s also the important times, because one comes and others will follow. This brought Astraea up to the level that it is working at now.
What advice, as a person who’s a donor, would you give to other people?
Astraea is good in many respects. One of them is being a public foundation. It’s not run by one or a small group of very rich people who say where things go. There’s care in giving to Astraea. It is a direct way to give to the movement, not only in terms of where the money goes, but also in terms of how that money is being distributed. There’s fresh influx of ideas and human resources from the movement into how the work happens at Astraea, so it stays up-to-date. As you can see from developing from one of the first women’s foundation to a lesbian foundation to an LGBTQI fund. It’s a living thing and you’re part of a process. At the same time, there are options to give more specifically to the one project that you want to support or to a group of projects that you want to support.
What does it mean to to be a resource activist? Are there challenges?
In the States, they call what I do being a donor activist. This makes it clear that I work on two sides of a bridge: I work with the money that I inherited. Others work with the money they’ve made, or somebody else’s money that they get to manage. And I consider myself part of the same movement that I’m funding, which means I get to think too. I get to have impact there.
Any closing thoughts?
Don’t forget your own radical edge! What makes you mad? It’s a very good source of energy. Yes, things have gotten more normalized, right? We know why do what we wanna do. When I speak with friends who have also inherited, and who say, “I can’t find my issue,” I think, “Hey, we are one step ahead here.” The issue is clear. There’s many issues and this is one where we can actually affect some change. And the old sentiment still holds true: If we don’t do it, who will?
OII Germany was founded in 2008 to work on ending non-consensual, medically unnecessary and cosmetic interventions forced on intersex children and adults, and to ensure human rights for intersex persons, such as bodily integrity and self-determination. OII Germany campaigns against any sort of pathologization of intersex realities, promoting a language and an understanding of intersex bodies as part of the human sex continuum that is free of stigma and pathologization. Its goals are to work toward making non-consensual medical and psychological treatment unlawful in Germany as well as to empower the German intersex community by strengthening the self-esteem, the self-respect and a depathologized self-image of intersex individuals in Germany.
OII Europe was founded in 2012, during the Second International Intersex Forum in Stockholm, to ensure the adoption of human rights for intersex people all over Europe. OII Europe works to end discrimination against intersex people and to ensure the fundamental rights of bodily integrity and self-determination. Advocating for the charter of rights outlined in the Malta Declaration of 2013, OII Europe campaigns for the respect of intersex people’s human rights on the European level and engages with governments, human rights organizations, commissions and the broader LGBTI activist movement. OII Europe also offers information and training to other NGOs and government bodies. The group raises awareness in the European public and among political stakeholders within the European Union (EU), the Council of Europe (CoE) and the U.N.; works towards legal change and inclusion of intersex in EU anti-discrimination legislation and within the human rights framework of the CoE and the UN; and builds community building among intersex individuals in Europe. They have had a number of key successes with European policy and human rights bodies, including speaking in the Euroepan Parliament and presenting the the key human rights challenges intersex people face at the Council of Europe’s Committee on Bioethics. On Intersex Solidarity day 2016 (8th of November) OII Europe is launching the website intervisibility.eu that will contain information about intersex and the challenges intersex people face in 22 European languages. The website will also contain audio-visual testimonials of intersex individuals and activists from all over Europe, as well as written information about the situation of intersex people in different European countries.