SisterSong

SisterSong is a multi-ethnic, multi-racial, and multi-gender collective dedicated to eradicating reproductive oppression and securing human rights.

SisterSong is a multi-ethnic, multi-racial, and multi-gender collective dedicated to eradicating reproductive oppression and securing human rights. Formed in 1997 by 16 women of color led organizations, SisterSong’s founders recognized that the women’s rights movement largely represented wealthy white middle-class women singularly focused on abortion rights, rather than access or other reproductive oppressions experienced by women and trans people of color. Thus, they articulated the reproductive justice framework that uniquely affirms the rights to bodily autonomy, abortion and contraception, and parenting in safe and sustainable environments with adequate resources. Focusing their work on severely marginalized communities, such as sex workers, youth, young parents, people with disabilities or HIV/AIDS, and people with incarceration or addiction experience, SisterSong is attuned to the interlocking oppressions that inflict multiple forms of violence, e.g. criminalization, violent attacks and intimidation, police brutality, poor healthcare access, exploitative migrant and religious laws, and in-accessibility to quality education. SisterSong maintains a strategic focus on the U.S. South where they see the region as ground zero for the War on Women. Their goals are to expand reproductive justice in other social justice movements, train the next generation of reproductive justice activists and leaders on the evolution of reproductive justice, and provide a platform for groups to collaborate on shared policy and advocacy goals.

Astraea 2014 Highlights

This was another radical year for Astraea and the movement for LGBTQI justice. As we stand at the brink of 2015, these are some of our 2014 highlights.

Broke grantmaking records. 2014 has been our biggest grantmaking year yet. We made nearly $3 million in grants to 81 partners in 35 countries.

Astraea hits Broadway! We were on Broadway for an Uprising of Love! spearheading a movement of LGBTI activism with celebrities like Sting, Patti Lupone, Jane Lynch and many others. The concert benefited Astraea’s $20m Fueling the Frontlines campaign and featured the work of Astraea and our grantee partners!

Created the first CommsLabs. We launched the first-ever Media, Communications and Technology Lab (CommsLabs) in Bogotá, Colombia as part of the Global LGBTI Development Partnership with the USAID. Astraea convened more than 30 activists from Latin America with 12 practitioners in technology and communications, to co-create new media strategies and digital advocacy tools specifically designed to meet the needs of LGBTQI human rights defenders.

Kika Child, CommsLabs Colombia, 2014. Participants exchange gifts. Photo: Ben Parker

Four-star rating from Charity Navigator. Astraea received a four-star rating from Charity Navigator, America’s largest and most-utilized independent evaluator of charities. The ratings, which are assessed annually, take into account organizational governance practices, fiscal management and commitment to accountability and transparency. It was the highest score of any national LGBTQI organization awarded.

Mourned the loss of icons. The community mourned the loss of gender warrior Leslie Feinbergand Vernita Gray, one of Chicago’s longest and most prolific activists for LGBT rights.

              Left: Vernita Gray. Right: The 1993 Lesbian Writer’s Fund Awards Gala,

Pictured left to right: Cheryl Clarke, Leslie Feinberg, Minnie Bruce Pratt, event emcee Karen Williams, and Cheryl Neal Reed

Intersectional organizing to end state violence. Astraea grantee partners are collectively organizing mass action to end state violence. #BlackLivesMatter is an intersectional movement, led by African American people and queers. Many of Astraea’s grantee partners have helped amplify and lead these waves of change. BreakOUT! and the New Orleans Worker’s Center for Racial Justice organized a Children’s March for Human Rights on October 24th. Streetwise and Safe (SAS) organized a #GetYrRights tweeter rally to bring attention to the power of knowing your rights when interacting with the police as LGBTQ youth. Southerners on New Ground (SONG) coordinated #BlackLivesMatterEverywhere actions with other community organizations and blocked a busy highway in Atlanta, Georgia in honor of the 19th annual National Day of Protest Against Police Brutality. Astraea continues to partner with Communities United for Police Reform(CPR) campaign to end discriminatory policing practices in New York.

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Southerners on New Ground. #BlackLivesMatter Action ATL GA Photo: Lorraine Fontana

Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) wins across the globe.

  • UN human rights body condemned violence and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity
  • Cuba banned employment discrimination
  • In Ecuador, 450 public servants in the health and judicial sector received training on SOGI non discriminatory practises
  • In the United States, President Barack Obama signed an executive order to protect LGBT workers
  • Australia passed the first non-discrimination law protecting intersex people.
  • The African Commission on Human and People’s Rights passed a resolution condemning violence based on SOGI
  • In Kenya and Peru the court legalized trans* name changes and supported individual rights to self determination.
  • Secured partial adoption rights for same sex couples in Colombia
  • Achieved a seventh resolution on LGBTI rights in Latin America.

Trans* rights gained momentum. But we have a long way to go. The Indian Supreme Court officially recognized a third gender, paving the way for access to improved state welfare. 10,000 people gathered in Istanbul for the largest Trans* Pride March ever, despite increased attempts by the state to repress protests since Gezi. Actress Laverne Cox became the first trans* person to appear on the cover of TIME magazine. However, violence against trans* folks and women of color in particular persists. The IDAHOT 2014 update reveals a total of 1,509 reported killings of trans and gender variant people in 61 countries worldwide from January 1st 2008 to March 31st 2014.

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 Istanbul Trans* Pride March 2014. Photo: Yasin AKGUL Astraea, grantee partner Instanbul LGBTT

Marriage equality reached a tipping point. 2014 will be recognized as the tipping point for marriage equality in the US. 35 States legalized same-sex marriage, just over 60 percent of the U.S. population now lives in a state where marriage equality is legal.

Africans celebrated wins despite the increasing sanctioned homophobia on the continent – Uganda held the first pride rally after the ‘abominable’ anti-gay law was overturned. Astraea grantee partners Freedom and Roam Uganda lead a constitutional challenge to the anti-homosexuality bill along with public education and media advocacy in Uganda.

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Freedom and Roam Uganda at Uganda Pride. Photo: Molisa wa NyaKale

In 2015, we stand at the nexus of a movement for justice, recognizing that the fight for gender, racial and class equality is one we are deeply committed to. Help us support brilliant and brave LGBTQI activists on the frontlines of our communities’ struggles for liberation. Here’s to another year in this gorgeous struggle.

Trans(forming)

Trans(forming) is an Atlanta membership-based organization led by people of color and focusing on the needs of trans, intersex, and gender non-conforming people assigned female at birth.

Trans(forming) is an Atlanta membership-based organization led by people of color and focusing on the needs of trans, intersex, and gender non-conforming people assigned female at birth. They are driven by our deep commitment to ensure all trans and gender non-conforming people, especially trans people of color, can live with fairness, freedom, and justice throughout the metro Atlanta area. They believe that for our people to organize effectively for justice despite the various forms of oppression we struggle against, we must build resources to support our survival; they also believe our liberation cannot be complete without pursuing justice for all people of color, and ending all forms of oppression. To support our community’s survival and self-determination, Trans(forming) builds resources by and for trans and gender non-conforming people, and brings in new members through our meetings, workshops, programs, and events. They also organize marches, rallies, call-in campaigns, and other actions to rapidly respond to specific acts of injustice and to build pressure for policy change. Trans(forming) is an Anchor Organization of Solutions Not Punishment Coalition (SNaP Co) and this is where are amazing advocacy and activism takes place to change the system internally and the hearts and minds of communities. This organization is supported through the Funding Queerly Giving Circle, which is housed at Astraea.

EMERGE

EMERGE is a project that creates social impact through visual artistry. EMERGE is the culmination of Sean Saifa Wall’s achievements to date that reflect his documentation of community and history through art. EMERGE is also the parent project for a series of socially motivated projects that will raise awareness of inequity and juxtapose that with resilience.  

The funded project, Letters to an Unborn Son (LUS), is a multi-media performance focusing on Saifa and his father, who was incarcerated for four years and died while in prison from AIDS-related complications. LUS draws from letters that he sent during that time to his wife and Saifa, who was assigned female at birth and later transitioned to male. LUS intends to educate people about the experiences of those born with intersex bodies and discuss intersectional issues related to institutional racism, incarceration, poverty, state violence against non-normative bodies, and addiction. Funding will enable EMERGE to develop and stage a performance in Atlanta, as well as start work on the video component of the project.

Check out our 2016 Intersex Awareness Day video, featuring Sean Saifa Wall:

Southerners on New Ground (SONG)

Formed in 1993 and led primarily by queer women and people of color in the South, SONG is a movement-building leader.

Formed in 1993 and led primarily by queer women and people of color in the South, SONG is a movement-building leader nationally that works with a strong intersectional racial, gender and economic justice politic. SONG’s Free from Fear campaign strategy is working to politicize, engage, and activate LGBTQ people to lead migrant justice and anti-criminalization campaigns in the South, contributing their leadership, base and LGBTQ analysis. SONG has also contributed to key migrant justice campaigns in the South over the past several years, including active leadership in the Southeast Immigrant Rights Network and the Georgia Not1More campaign.