To Be Bi And Femme: Now You See Me, Now You Don’t

In recognition of Bi Visibility Day, Rebecca Fox, Astraea’s Vice President of Programs, shares a personal reflection celebrating bi visibility, transcending binaries, upending expectations, and embracing fluidity.

For this year’s Bi Visibility Day, Joy Chia, Astraea’s Executive Director, asked me to write a piece on what bi visibility means to me. Unlike most of my writing projects, where I marinate for a few days and then I can easily write it, this assignment had me stuck. I’ve been bi since my first girl crush in 1999. Before queer was common parlance and reclaimed proudly, bi was what felt right to me. I liked boys, I liked girls, and I had yet to meet people who identify as gender non-conforming. I quickly realized that bisexuality isn’t simple and that being constantly asked, “Are you really bi?” or “Are you dating a man, or woman or GNC person now?” is draining.

Through my coming out process, I figured out not only my sexual orientation, but also my gender. I’m high femme. For me, that means wearing clothes, jewelry, make-up and reclaiming physical trappings of femininity. The overlap of these two identities quickly left me with not more visibility, but with a kind of double invisibility. I quickly realized that “who I was” to others was being defined by who I was dating. It has taken me many years and a lot of support from my femme community – trans and cis – to push aside the bullshit and stand as myself.

Our movements are working to transcend binaries and break down these rigid boxes. but we continue to live in a world where who we are, and what rights are accorded us, is defined by litmus tests set by other people. We are asked to contort ourselves, shrink parts of ourselves, bend uncomfortably, just to be seen as being part of ill-fitting spaces. At Astraea, we fund organizations and movements that are breaking those binaries, that are helping people be seen as they are versus how others define them. Our grantee partners do this by changing the narrative, building power, and challenging normative assumptions.

Both the joy and challenge of feeling free to live outside of the boxes that people put us in is that we get to define who we are. We get to upend expectations and embrace fluidity. We get to choose what is important to us, choose our kin, and choose how we live our lives. Yet, it’s also a lot easier for us as humans to fall into the habit of using boxes (for ourselves and others). It’s easier to define ourselves by what we are opposed to, rather than what we stand for and who we are.

Bi visibility means celebrating my queerness, my bi-ness, my femme-ness, regardless of who I am in love with or in bed with. Bi visibility matters to me, not only because it’s how I see myself, but also because it’s how I want to be seen. Not just parts of me, but all of me.

In solidarity,
Rebecca Fox
Vice President of Programs

Kerry-Jo’s August 2022 Reflection: Rest and Reimagination

Kerry-Jo reflects on her time at Astraea, rest, renewal, and reimagining, “a world where we can all thrive and the work we do to create that world is like planting trees under whose shade we may never sit.”

Dear Friends,

If I’m to be completely honest (and vulnerable), this reflection has not been an easy one to write. After seven years, I have decided it’s time to leave Astraea Foundation and my role as Deputy Executive Director.

At the very core of all that I am proud to have achieved at Astraea — and even the choice I have made to leave – is this: reimagination. The audacity to believe that we could build a partnership with governments without compromising our values and integrity, the seismic shifts in our operations and culture, and a deepened investment in our people. Looking back, I’m sure I couldn’t have even imagined what we would do together so many years ago.

In truth, reimagination has been at the very foundation of Astraea. Our Founding Mothers had to envision a world where feminists, lesbians, queer folks of color would dare to raise the resources we needed to support each other, to trust each other, and to believe that we could indeed make the world a more just place for us to thrive. 

45 years later, Astraea is still committed to that world. In all my roles — as a staff member, executive leader, space-holder, Black queer immigrant cis-woman — I have borne witness to an organization grappling with how to remain accountable to and aligned with its feminist values, staff, peers, grantee partners, and to the LGBTQI movements that we serve. 

The work we do is hard, uncomfortable and, at times, messy. How could it not be if what we aim to do is step outside of systems and ways of being that no longer serve us? You see, reimagination isn’t always about rainbows and unicorns — to do it well also involves having the most difficult conversations, holding curiosity, grief, sadness, and anger as we release what we have been in service of what we could be and emerge on the other side renewed. 

This is the cycle of reimagination and, as I move towards my own sabbatical of rest and renewal, I know that the Astraea I leave today is far sturdier than the one I joined in 2015. Over the last few months especially, I sense a new horizon of hope that — while tenuous and precious — comes with dreaming about what might now be possible for Astraea and each of us finding our own place in that possibility. We are finding courage in our vulnerability, balance in our boundaries, and learning how to meaningfully build community across distance and difference.

There is much more to be done to get to where we want to be, but the path Astraea is charting to do it is more sure-footed, strategic, and overall stronger. I’m truly excited about what’s yet to come.

And so, I’d like to thank all our staff (past and present), grantee partners and supporters for sharing in my last reflection, and I hope if you remember nothing else, it is this: we are imagining a world where we can all thrive and the work we do to create that world is like planting trees under whose shade we may never sit. 

Until we meet again,
Kerry-Jo Ford Lyn

Deputy Executive Director

Building Our Movements for Trans and Intersex Rights in Africa, Asia, and the Pacific

Through participatory grantmaking, capacity building, regional networking, and international advocacy, Building our Movements aims to scale up the capacity of African, Asian and Pacific human rights defenders to address the rights violations faced by intersex and trans communities in these regions.

Throughout sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, and the Pacific, intersex and trans movements are experiencing tremendous growth as they seize political and advocacy opportunities. Yet, their progress is hindered by major resource gaps which slow down capacity building, and contribute to a general lack of visibility within the broader LGBTQI movement of the regions. 

In 2019, the European Union, in line with its values of cultural diversity, tolerance, and individual freedoms, made funds available to support the creation of Building our Movements, a collective and intermediary fund made up of transnational organizations, including: 

Through participatory grantmaking, capacity building, regional networking, and international advocacy, Building our Movements aims to scale up the capacity of African, Asian and Pacific human rights defenders to address the rights violations faced by intersex and trans communities in these regions. The group also brings communities together across borders to strengthen the flourishing movements on the ground.

What has Building our Movements achieved since it began in 2019? 

Within two short years, in the midst of a global pandemic, the collective has increased organizational capacity to address trans and intersex issues in the three regions. For example, Trans Fund grantees reported: 

  • 63% had increased capacities;
  • 48% increased their capacity to budget and manage their finances; 
  • 44% increased their capacity to develop and implement program strategy; and 
  • 42% increased their capacity to keep themselves safe and secure.

Bolstered advocacy for intersex and trans rights at the local, national, regional, and global level. For example:

  • The president of Kenya appointed the first openly intersex government commissioner, which has exciting implications for intersex persons on many fronts. A grantee of SIPD has played a big role in this gain. 
  • ILGA led the way for 53 UN member states to call for concrete measures to combat harmful practices, violence, and discrimination against intersex persons.

Increased networking opportunities at the regional level, which created space for exchanging best practices on promoting and protecting trans and intersex rights. For example: 

  • APTN rolled out the first framework for collecting data and reporting frameworks on transphobic hate crimes in Asia and Pacific regions, working closely at the regional level.
  • Helped build a global norm about the promotion and protection of intersex and trans human rights and better national implementation of their provisions, through UN side events sponsored by 23+ Member States 

Despite the countless challenges posed by the pandemic these past two years, Building our Movements has made tremendous progress in affirming trans and intersex groups’ rights from the local to international stage. Building our Movements is grateful to the European Union’s support and invites all donors to join us in committing new and increased resources to these powerful, but under-resourced movements fighting for their rights.

May 2022 Reflection: May Her Memory Be For a Revolution this #IDAHOBIT

Today, as we honor IDAHOBIT (International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Intersexphobia and Transphobia), Urvashi Vaid’s life and work is a clarion call for how to proceed. She pushed for rights and policies, but never took her vision off our collective liberation.

As I sat down to write this piece, I found out Urvashi Vaid had died. Urv, as she was universally known, was a force beyond nature. She was the first woman of color to lead the National LGBT Task Force, a founder of Lesbian Political Action Committee (LPAC) and the author of Virtual Equality and Irresistible Revolution: Confronting Race, Class, and the Assumptions of LGBT Politics. When the public face of the gay and lesbian (as it was then known) movement was universally white, gender conforming, and male, she was brown, visibly queer, and proudly lesbian. She was loud and uncompromising. Her relationship with Kate Clinton was the stuff of legend: two powerful women in love, each leaders in their field, and a visible exemplar of tangible support and love.

But beyond her resume and numerous accolades, she was the person who told you that you were messing up (never in that gentle of language). She told you in the toughest and kindest way possible that you needed to be doing more. As news of her death spread, texts and conversations with friends and my partner all had the same theme: “She told me to do more on this issue I was scared to work on and she was right.” She pushed each of us, not on assimilation and whitewashing, but on trans rights, homelessness, criminal justice, and economic inequality. It was an honor when she told you to step up: that the movement needed you, that you needed you, that she needed you to. Her words were always spoken with love and a belief in the world that you could be a part of creating.

Today, as we honor IDAHOBIT (International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Intersexphobia and Transphobia), Urv’s life and work is a clarion call for how to proceed. She pushed for rights and policies, but never took her vision off our collective liberation. As the LGBT movement in the United States professionalized, she never changed who she was or what she believed to fit in. She talked about sex and sexuality, she talked about race and class, and she pushed us to recognize how misogyny pervaded the present day movement.

We stand at a moment where so much that Urv fought for is being threatened. May 17 was specifically chosen as IDAHOBIT to commemorate the World Health Organization’s decision in 1990 to declassify homosexuality as a mental disorder. Yet, today, we see conservative actors around the world fanning the fires of fear by vilifying those who live beyond strict and harmful stereotypes of gender and sexuality. Eroding reproductive rights, curtailing racial justice, erasing LGBTQI histories, and scapegoating LGBTQI youth – the anti-rights political project to regulate and control our bodies, our lives and our futures is clear. But so is our work to create a world where everyone belongs. 

In my last call with Urv, I told her I was leaving my job to become Vice President of Programs at Astraea. She paused and said “We need Astraea. I’m glad you took this job, do good work and don’t fuck it up.” I was a little flustered, a little flattered, and mostly just wanted to keep her respect. I promised her I wouldn’t. 

In Judaism, social justice Jews have taken the traditional mourning phrase of “May her memory be for a blessing” and made it into “May her memory be for a revolution.” Urv’s life and memory already are.

In solidarity,
Rebecca Fox
VP of Programs

Shining a Light on Lesbian Visibility and LBQ Movements

In 2021, Astraea gave over 20% of our funding to LBQ-led groups and supported numerous groups and organizations in regions like those in the U.S. South and the global south that have historically overlooked or obstructed lesbian and queer activists — and still do to this day. I invite you to join Astraea as we celebrate Lesbian Visibility Day 2022 and continue to uplift, resource and stand with our LBQ colleagues, family, and members of the global community.

As the queer mom of a little girl (for now), this time of year has special resonance for me.WIth Lesbian Visibility Day on April 26 and as my daughter heads into the end of her school year, I feel deeply grateful to live in a state that recognizes the love that my wife and I share and lets our daughter talk about her two moms safely at school. I recognize this isn’t true for many other LGBTQI children and parents, as we’ve seen a swath of legislation in United States with an abrupt rise in states attempting to make LGBTQI persons invisible in their own schools, homes and communities. As a community, we hope this day allows us to take stock, stand in solidarity and celebrate the gains of our vibrant community as we push towards full liberation. 

Globally, only 8% ($20.6 million) of the total $560 million in LGBTI funding could be identified as LBQ-specific. In 2021, Astraea gave over 20% of our funding to LBQ-led groups and supported numerous groups and organizations in regions like those in the U.S. South and the global south that have historically overlooked or obstructed lesbian and queer activists — and still do to this day. I’m proud we supported these groups that work intersectionally and across issues of gender, racial, environmental, and economic justice to meaningfully realize what justice looks like for all of us. To be clear, for us at Astraea, women includes all women, cis, trans, and intersex.

LBQ organizing around the world is growing and the groups are nimble, resourceful and robust in their organizing strategies. Most LBQ groups (89%) have been founded in the last twenty years! Utilizing cultural change strategies, knowledge production and research as well as capacity-building, advocacy and movement building strategies, these groups have achieved incredible strides with few resources. Our report “Vibrant Yet Under-Resourced: The State of Lesbian, Bisexual, and Queer Movements” (published with Mama Cash) reminds us that grassroots LBQ groups are often underfunded or under-recognized, facing barriers that prohibit them from fulfilling their full potential. 

The innovation of LBQ groups is also rooted in collaboration and partnership across geographies, across movements and at all levels from the hyper-local to the international stage. Grantees like Movimiento Lesbia (Peru) and Women in Front (Cameroon) invest in feminist leadership to increase visibility of LBQ leaders within different social justice movements, while also focusing on transforming LGBTQI movements as well. We-Change Jamaica (Jamaica) is claiming political space by increasing the participation of LBQ women in national and regional leadership and decision-making processes. LIFS Peru (Peru) is organizing at the national and international level to push for increased protections related to diverse families and for policy-making to ensure that LBQ women are seen as rights holders and political subjects. 

On that note, I invite you to join Astraea as we celebrate Lesbian Visibility Day 2022 and continue to uplift, resource and stand with our LBQ colleagues, family, and members of the global community. Please watch and share our video above with your networks!

Imagining New Technicolor Worlds: Joy’s March 2022 Reflection

In commemoration of TDoV, Astraea is delighted to collaborate with Acacia Rodriguez on their illustration “Trans Joy is Resistance!!” Astraea is committed to supporting queer art and LGBTQI artists because we believe that art allows us to see ourselves in the worlds we live in and are creating, and is a vital tool for social transformation.

Dear Friends,

March is one of my favorite months—in the Western Hemisphere, many of us emerge from grey slumber into a world of promised color, and March is Women’s History Month! Astraea celebrated International Women’s Day on March 8 by closing our offices to give our staff an opportunity to rest and reflect on feminist movement building around the world, to celebrate how far we have come, and to take stock of what lies ahead.

March also brings us Transgender Day of Visibility (TDoV). Today, we celebrate the power and resilience of trans movements worldwide. Astraea’s longstanding support of trans justice and rights is grounded in our commitments to gender justice and to shifting power to under-resourced communities. Astraea made our first grant to a trans organization in 1994; today, we rededicate ourselves to resourcing trans and gender non-conforming (TGNC) futures:

  • In 2021 alone, we moved more than $1.8 million to TGNC-led organizing worldwide.
  • More than 35% of our total 2021 grant-making funded TGNC-led organizations.
  • 100% of grants supporting TGNC organizing in the United States supported groups led by and for people of color.

In commemoration of TDoV, Astraea is delighted to collaborate with Acacia Rodriguez on their illustration “Trans Joy is Resistance!!” Astraea is committed to supporting queer art and LGBTQI artists because we believe that art allows us to see ourselves in the worlds we live in and are creating, and is a vital tool for social transformation. Holding on to this blend of joy and resistance is essential even as we fight against the current waves of anti-LGBTQI legislation banning trans girls from sports, prohibiting transgender youth from accessing health care, and erasing LGBTQI people and experiences from classrooms. These laws cynically instrumentalize the rights and lives of children and LGBTQI peoples to manufacture moral panic and serve as a cultural wedge for political gain.

Acacia’s art reminds us of what we are fighting for—a world where all people can actively and enthusiastically belong, and the ability for all of us to live in technicolor. To me, to live in technicolor is to live in a place of flourishing- where we are able to make choices that allow us to thrive. It means that we will move out of the shadows and transcend false binaries. It means we can act from a place of security–where the measure of love is not fear or loss, but joy.

I wish us all the ability and space to imagine new technicolor worlds, taking Glinda’s words to Dorothy to heart: “You’ve always had the power, my dear, you just had to learn it yourself.” 
 
In Solidarity,
Joy L. Chia
Executive Director

P.S. We would love to hear from you! At Astraea, we are currently assessing how we reach and engage our communities so that we can better communicate with you. Take 10 minutes to share your experience with us! The deadline to respond is April 8. Please take our survey here!

Resourcing the powerful storytelling of our movements!

Through our Strategic Communications grants, Astraea gave a total of $500,000 in funding to 17 existing Astraea grantee partners across Armenia, Nigeria, Kenya, Jamaica, and Trinidad & Tobago. 

In 2021, Astraea made our first open call for Strategic Communications grants to seed innovative, bold, and creative LGBTQIA organizations to deepen their approaches to advocacy and communications. Today, we’re delighted to be able to celebrate this incredible cohort of grantees and share their powerful visions and work with all of you!

Through these grants, Astraea gave a total of $500,000 in funding to 17 existing Astraea grantee partners across Armenia, Nigeria, Kenya, Jamaica, and Trinidad & Tobago. 

Across the globe there is a rise in anti-LGBTQIA rights groups spreading disinformation campaigns. Grassroots feminist and LGBTQIA groups around the world are combating this harmful disinformation by utilizing creative storytelling and powerful messaging campaigns. By uplifting LGBTQIA peoples’ realities and lived experiences, activists are engaging in dialogue to share a vision for a more just and equitable world both within and beyond their immediate communities. Astraea’s longstanding commitment has always been to amplify activists’ voices and stories, and equip them with the tools to make their own media and control their own narratives. These strategic communications grants are a testament to that commitment. 

Each of the grantee partners in this cohort utilize strategic messaging, storytelling, and advocacy as core tools for inspiring action towards collective liberation. Their approaches are as diverse and vibrant as the many communities and contexts they represent, but here is a brief snapshot of some of their work:

  • Women’s Health and Equal Rights Initiative (WHER) (Nigeria) is an organization that brings together lesbian, bisexual, transgender and nonbinary people to collectively take action to advance and promote their rights in Nigeria. The group is producing a community developed web series to reduce inequality and social exclusion in Nigeria and advance counter narratives through media production. This web series will be available on various social media platforms alongside a newsletter to promote further community engagement. 
  • Intersex Persons Society of Kenya (Kenya) is an intersex-led organization that works to advance human rights and dignity for intersex persons across Kenya. Through a public education campaign, the group will focus on amplifying the lived realities and human rights priorities of intersex persons in Kenya, work towards preventing the spread of misinformation, and ultimately challenge the systemic stigma surrounding intersex livelihoods.  
  • TransWave Jamaica (Jamaica) is a trans-led organization working to advance the health, welfare and wellbeing of the transgender and gender non-conforming community in Jamaica and the wider Caribbean region. The TransWave team has previously executed several powerful social media campaigns to increase awareness of the lived realities of their communities. Now, they are excited to be launching a new campaign that will highlight transgender Jamaicans and their contributions across different fields, and challenge harmful stereotypes about gender diversity in Jamaica.

Join us in congratulating these 17 phenomenal organizations for their ongoing commitment to bold and authentic storytelling!

Joy’s February 2022 Reflection: Honoring our Black Communities, Celebrating Black LGBTQI Futures

At Astraea, we began the year with a renewed focus on our transformative work. As we continue to navigate through challenging and uncertain times, Astraea is reinforcing our commitment to collective care and continuing our everyday work to build power and resilience with LGBTQI movements around the world.

Dear Friends,

I hope the beginning of 2022 has been a healthy, safe, and generative period for you and your communities. At Astraea, we began the year with a renewed focus on our transformative work. As we continue to navigate through challenging and uncertain times, Astraea is reinforcing our commitment to collective care and continuing our everyday work to build power and resilience with LGBTQI movements around the world.

I write to you as we reach the end of Black History Month – an annual month for reflection and appreciation to collectively pay tribute to Black communities across the U.S. and around the world, and to recognize their contributions and sacrifices in shaping our nation, and our world. 

We condemn the systemic racism that overtly and covertly perpetuates injustice in institutions and communities across the United States. The field of philanthropy itself is not immune to structural racism; we are acutely aware that we have much work to do to better practice our values of equity and justice within our own organization. This moment is an opportunity to elevate the fight for racial justice and honor the Black-led organizations and leaders who have given so much in the name of liberation and justice.

But our commitment extends far beyond the month of February. Astraea was founded on the principles of supporting lesbians and women of color and has a long-standing commitment to uplifting Black leaders and movements in the United States. LGBTQI People of Color battle historic and contemporary structural inequalities, as they live and work at the intersections of racism, homophobia, transphobia, misogyny and classism. Astraea strengthens organizations and movements that acknowledge and fight these multiple barriers to self-determination. We stand on the shoulders of the Black, Indigenous, People of Color, trans, and queer movements that have come before us and are committed to supporting and resourcing sustainable movements. 

Last year, 97% of our U.S. funding supported queer and trans BIPOC-led groups, including grantees such as Law for Black Lives, BYP100, MediaJustice, Solutions Not Punishment Collaborative, just to name a few. On top of that, 100% of our trans and gender nonconforming U.S. funding was for groups led by and for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color. As our former staff member Sandy Nathan noted in her poignant blog post last year, “I am Black everyday: A reflection on Black History Month”, “these are our foundations, the legacy on which we build to ensure Black liberation, and indeed the liberation of all peoples and the healing of our planet.”

To celebrate the month this year and advocate for Black liberation, we launched the #BlackLGBTQIFutures campaign across our social media platforms, including Instagram and Twitter. We invite you to join us in sharing these stories and the stories of other Black heroes who have carried the torch for justice. We continue to work through our own internal challenges with racism and have begun the deep work to hold ourselves accountable for past mistakes and ask the tough questions, to help cultivate an inclusive, anti-racist, thoughtful and productive workplace culture and a community that authentically reflects our values. I’m humbled by your support and camaraderie in my first few months as Executive Director. I’m excited to work with each and every one of you to identify and resource radical movement leaders who are pushing for true equality. Let us lead with empathy as we fight for those who have been overlooked, underrepresented, silenced and disempowered. 

In Solidarity,
Joy Chia

Image credit: Intersex Community of Zimbabwe (ICoz)

Joy’s December 2021 Reflection: On Community, and the Light Ahead

I am grateful to everyone who remains deeply committed to making sustained social change. This work of building power and shifting resources requires time, energy, collaboration, and long-term investment. As a global public feminist foundation, Astraea’s mandate is to make those dedicated investments in our LGBTQI, feminist, People of Color, and Global South-led movements so that they can go on with the daily work that is history-making.

In the Northern Hemisphere today marks the Winter Solstice, which means that while today might be the shortest and darkest day of the year, tomorrow and onward bring only more light.

As we come to the end of a long 2021, I am reflecting on the past year and holding close the challenges that we have faced as both individuals and as communities. Yet even as I think about the heaviness this past year has brought and worry about what might lie ahead, I find myself turning to the advice of Bing Crosby in one of my favorite songs: “If you’re worried and you can’t sleep, just count your blessings instead of sheep, and you’ll fall asleep counting your blessings.”

In my first three months at Astraea, I have felt incredibly blessed to witness glimpses of the bright sparks, bold imaginations, and incredible power of our many feminist, LGBTQI communities around the world, and what I do know for sure is there so much more of that to come.

With that, I want to extend my gratitude to all of you, the Astraea community – our staff, our grantees, our partners, our donor activists, and our board members – for welcoming me into the Astraea ecosystem and family with such open arms. You have made my transition an exciting and enjoyable one, and I am thankful to be on this journey with you.

I am grateful to our powerful grantee partners, who are some of the strongest, most resilient LGBTQI and feminist activists, artists, organizers, and changemakers around the world, working towards our collective liberation. We are immensely grateful for your dedication and courage.

I am grateful to everyone who remains deeply committed to making sustained social change. This work of building power and shifting resources requires time, energy, collaboration, and long-term investment. As a global public feminist foundation, Astraea’s mandate is to make those dedicated investments in our LGBTQI, feminist, People of Color, and Global South-led movements so that they can go on with the daily work that is history-making. I am grateful for the important responsibility that Astraea holds to resource this critical work well.

From December 17th until the new year, the Astraea staff are hitting “pause”. This is part of our now bi-annual tradition to take a break, truly disconnect from work, share dedicated time and space with our loved ones, and importantly, to rest. I hope that many of you will also be able to take some moments of rest as we bring this year to a close, and prepare for all the good fights ahead of us in 2022, and beyond.

Until then, sending my absolute best to you and yours.

Celebrating the Growth and Leadership of Global Intersex Movements!

This Intersex Awareness Day, we are so proud to share our 7th grant cycle of Astraea’s Intersex Human Rights Fund (IHRF)! This year, we are celebrating growth and leadership – both of the incredible global intersex movement, and of the Fund and the number of organizations we are able to support—while reflecting on what has been an incredibly challenging year for intersex communities worldwide.

This Intersex Awareness Day, we are so proud to share our 7th grant cycle of Astraea’s Intersex Human Rights Fund (IHRF)! The first of its kind, the Intersex Human Rights Fund supports organizations, projects and campaigns led by intersex activists and organizers working to ensure the human rights, bodily autonomy, physical integrity and self-determination of intersex people worldwide. This year, we are celebrating growth and leadership – both of the incredible global intersex movement, and of the Fund and the number of organizations we are able to support—while reflecting on what has been an incredibly challenging year for intersex communities worldwide.

The Fund’s seventh round of grantmaking totaled $507,000 in grants to 53 groups, including 7 new and 46 renewals in 41 countries. This cycle, for the first time, we are supporting groups in Ecuador, Peru, Philippines, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Bangladesh, as well as our first Roma group in Serbia. With our goal to fund more sustainably, we were able to make our first 2-year-grants to 6 leading organizations in Asia (Campaign for Change in Nepal and the regional network Intersex Asia), Africa (Intersex Persons Society of Kenya and Intersex South Africa) and Latin America (Associação Brasileira de Intersexos in Brazil and Mulabi in Costa Rica).

The COVID-19 pandemic has continued to affect intersex communities’ ability to organize, expand national, regional, and global advocacy efforts, as well as to build community with one another. Pandemic related restrictions on movement and gathering have strangled efforts to gather in-person, something that has historically been critical for often isolated and under-resourced grassroots intersex groups. In many cases, the pandemic has forced intersex groups—especially those in the Global South—to shift their work and funding to focus entirely on the humanitarian needs of their community members, particularly given the economic instability that many intersex people already faced as a result of stigma, systemic neglect, violence, harm and discrimination.

Yet, intersex communities are working day in and day out towards ensuring the human rights, and bodily autonomy, and ultimately the dignity and celebration of their people and communities. Here are just a few examples of the incredible, intersectional movement building, advocacy efforts, and campaigns our grantee partners are leading:

  • Roma Women of Vojvodina (Novi Bečej, Serbia) is a non-governmental and non-profit association founded in 2007 to improve the Roma population’s social development and to reduce inequality for Roma people in all aspects of society. The group’s intersex project aims to educate Roma youth about the intersex population, reduce prejudices and stereotypes of Roma youth about intersex persons, and begin the process of stopping the isolation of intersex persons.
  • Bangladesh Intersex Forum (BIF) (Barishal, Bangladesh) is the first organization in Bangladesh led by intersex people. BIF works to create awareness of intersex issues and support intersex people’s livelihood and human rights through capacity building, grassroots organizing, advocacy, research, and strategic litigation. More specifically, the organization empowers intersex people with the resources, support, and information they need to break the cycle of trauma that is a result of “correctional” surgeries. Since its inception in December 2020, the group has collected intersex stories from the grassroots to publish in a popular national newspaper, and has begun working to economically empower intersex people by providing them with financial resources and skills training.

Please join us in celebrating all our incredible 2021 Intersex Human Rights Fund (IHRF) grantee partners building towards more just futures for intersex people, and for us all!

This Intersex Awareness Day, we are excited to have collaborated with intersex activist, illustrator, graphic designer, editor, prop maker, and set dresser Otto Etraud / Toto Duarte to create the vibrant and powerful illustration you see above titled, “Intersex People Deserve Bodily Autonomy.” Currently residing and working in one of the Alimapu hills, Valparaíso, Southern Pacific Hemisphere, Toto has managed-participated in printed art, illustration, and publishing fairs and festivals, as well as exhibited and published their own work across Chile and South America. To learn more about Toto and their work, please visit their website.

Intersex Human Rights Fund Grantee Partners*

*Note: We do not publicize a number of our courageous grantee partners because of security threats they face in their local contexts, so organizations may be missing from this list.

Asociación Peruana de Personas Intersexuales
Peru

Associacao Brasileira de Intersexos (ABRAI)
Brazil

Bangladesh Intersex Forum
Bangladesh

Bilitis
Bulgaria

Brújula Intersexual
Mexico

Campaign for Change
Nepal

Círculo Violeta
Puerto Rico

Colectivo Intertulias
Ecuador

Collectif Intersexes et Allié.e.s-OII France
France

Egalite Intersex Ukraine
Ukraine

Fundacja Interakcja
Poland

Groupe Intersexe Désirs / Inter-Désirs
Democratic Republic of the Congo

iCon UK
United Kingdom

InterAction Suisse
Switzerland

Intersex Advocate Trust Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe

Intersex Turkey
Turkey

Intersex and Faith
United States

Intersex Asia
Taiwan

Intersex Community of Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe

Intersex Greece
Greece

Intersex Human Rights Australia
Australia

Intersex Iceland
Iceland

Intersex Peer Support Australia
Australia

Intersex People’s Human Rights – ISIO Finland
Finland

Intersex Persons Society of Kenya
Kenya

Intersex Philippines
Philippines

Intersex Society of Zambia
Zambia

Intersex South Africa
South Africa

Intersex-Nigeria
Nigeria

Intersexesiste
Italy

intersexioni
Italy

IntersexualesChile
Chile

intersexUK
United Kingdom

ITANZ
New Zealand

IVIM OII Germany
Germany

Ivy Foundation
Malawi

Jinsiangu
Kenya

Mulabi
Costa Rica

OII Chinese
Taiwan

OII Europe
Germany

Potencia intersex
Argentina

Rainbow Identity Association
Botswana

Rede Jacob – Apoio a Familia e Pessoa Intersexo
Brazil

Roma Women of Vojvodina
Serbia

SIPD
Uganda

kolekTIRV (ex-Trans Aid)
Croatia

Trans Smart Trust
Zimbabwe

VIMÖ
Austria

Vivir y Ser Intersex
Mexico

XY Spectrum
Serbia