Creating Robust Ecosystems: Our 2021 Annual Report is Here!

We are pleased to share with you our 2021 Annual Report, Sustaining Movements, Queering Philanthropy, which illustrates the impact of Astraea’s bold commitment to move resources to support LGBTQI organizations on the frontlines. 

What does it take to create sustainable ecosystems of queer movements, especially in the age of multiple global crises and pandemics? At Astraea, we believe philanthropy should be a steadfast source of support, willing to walk alongside movements to better understand what resources they need in order to redistribute power and achieve lasting social change. 

Every year, we take a moment to reflect on our own roots, refine our mandate, and strategize on how to strengthen the field of philanthropy for the LGTBQI movements we support. We are pleased to share with you our 2021 Annual Report, Sustaining Movements, Queering Philanthropy, which illustrates the impact of Astraea’s bold commitment to move resources to support LGBTQI organizations on the frontlines. 

This year’s report is inspired by mangrove trees and the systems that they nurture and connect. The mangrove stands as a metaphor for our work to build bridges and create enabling environments across philanthropy and movements.

Our movements, fueled by our grantee partners, build power in a myriad of creative, dynamic ways which come together to form robust organizing ecosystems at both the local and international level. From providing critical healing justice resources, to tirelessly advocating for legal rights and implementation–our partners are constantly working to create brighter, stronger futures for ALL our people, everywhere.

Astraea knows that our grantee partners need consistent and flexible resources over multiple years to secure change that positively impacts the lives of LGBTQI communities worldwide. 

In 2021, Astraea redistributed: 

  • More than $5.1 million USD to more than 240 organizations;
  • 70% of our international grants to organizations in the Global South and East;
  • The majority of international funding to countries with obstructed, repressed and closing civil societies; and
  • 36% of our funding to support trans and gender non-conforming organizing.

We have profound appreciation for our grantees, supporters, donors, allies, and staff members, who deeply understand the urgent need to strengthen the very foundation we stand on amidst the threat of exclusion and repression. 

We hope that our 2021 Annual Report demonstrates how every dollar and person in our network contributes to our ecosystem’s growth and power. 

We Honor the History of Juneteenth

This Juneteenth, we highlight one of our Black-led grantee partner organizations, NQTTCN, working for healing justice across the United States. We are proud to fund this vital organization working for mental health and wellness in a country with a long, ongoing legacy of traumatic violence against Black people.

This Sunday (June 19) marks the 157th anniversary of the day enslaved Black people in Galveston, Texas, were finally told they were free, more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation declared it so. The following year, Juneteenth began as a celebration for and by Black Texans to commemorate this day.

Celebrations spread to other Black communities across the United States and last year, Juneteenth became a federal holiday. As the societal consciousness shifts with this new designation, we at Astraea honor Juneteenth’s historical roots as a Black celebration of emancipation and freedom. We acknowledge the work needed to eraticate anti-Black racism and abolish all slavery and forced labor, including mass incarceration and human trafficking.

Today, we highlight one of our Black-led grantee partner organizations working for healing justice across the United States. We are proud to fund this vital organization working for mental health and wellness in a country with a long, ongoing legacy of traumatic violence against Black people.

The National Queer and Trans Therapists of Color Network (NQTTCN ) is a healing justice organization working to transform mental health for queer and trans people of color in North America. They are working toward a world where all people have access to healing resources rooted in social justice and liberation to recover from trauma, violence, and systemic oppression. They build the capacity of queer and trans mental health practitioners of color, increase access to healing justice resources, and provide technical assistance to social justice movement organizations to integrate healing justice into their work.

As we honor Juneteenth and Pride this month, we remind our community that both of these celebrations are part of a greater pursuit of liberation for Black and LGBTQI people. To quote Fannie Lou Hamer, “Nobody’s free until everybody’s free.” As we celebrate our 45th birthday this year, Astraea remains committed to combating anti-Black racism and championing human rights for all.

Learn how to support The National Queer and Trans Therapists of Color Network at nqttcn.com.

In solidarity,
The Astraea Team

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.
  • Tzk’at (Sacatepéquez, Guatemala) is an indigenous feminist network set up by a Mayan lesbian. They bring the experience of ancestral healing processes and communities—they are healers, midwives, spiritual leaders and more and have both ancestral and Western knowledge of medicine and health practices. The network’s main objective is to contribute an ancestral and feminist approach to the emotional, physical and spiritual recovery of indigenous women and “cuerpos plurales”/intersex people. Tzk’at promotes an indigenous understanding of intersex embodiment and the network is currently building an intersex-led project entitled “Dialogues in Defense of Life, Territory Plural-Intersex Bodies—from Iximulew Guatemala,” which creates space for dialogues on embodiment/corporalities and intersex realities with community partners.

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

TZK’AT
Guatemala

VIMÖ
Austria

Vivir y Ser Intersex
Mexico

XY Spectrum
Serbia

#QueersMakingHistory and the Collective Power of Our Movements

While LGBT History Month has primarily focused on highlighting exemplary ‘LGBT role models,’ we believe that collective power and organizing, not efforts by individual leaders alone, have brought about the radical transformations our movements have been witnessing in the past few decades.

October is LGBT History Month! Originally conceived in the United States in 1994 (and since adopted by other countries who have selected different months), this month has evolved to become a time dedicated to recognizing pivotal moments in the histories of LGBTQI+ people and movements across the world. Encompassing a number of historically relevant days like International Lesbian Day and Spirit Day, the month of October is positioned to remind both the LGBTQI+ and wider communities of important roles LGBTQI+ people have played in creating and changing the social, cultural, legal, and political realms that we live in today and which so many of us may take for granted. 

While LGBT History Month is meant to celebrate queer people’s accomplishments, it has also become increasingly clear that the commercialization of LGBTQI+ communities’ identities under current systems of capitalism has come to dominate the narrative and conceals some of the critical organizing work, priorities, and visibility of our movements. Much has been written about the development of “Pink Capitalism”, the deliberate incorporation of the LGBTQI+ community and movement into a capitalist market economy. The commodification of social justice efforts along with the rise of the LGBTQI+ “influencer-activist-leader” and political engagement on social media have also begun to create oppressive individualist cultures and elitism within social justice spaces. Yet at the same time, violence against LGBTQI+ communities has also escalated due to the rise of anti-gender ideologies, transphobia, and terfism particularly for those who exist at the intersections of race, class, ability, sexuality, age and gender. Furthermore, the global COVID-19 pandemic has further exacerbated injustice and inequalities, particularly for oppressed communities. 

At Astraea, we understand that for many communities, there have been incredible individuals who have instilled hope and systemic change for LGBTQI communities within their respective regions as well as globally. While LGBT History Month has primarily focused on highlighting exemplary ‘LGBT role models,’ we believe that collective power and organizing, not efforts by individual leaders alone, have brought about the radical transformations our movements have been witnessing in the past few decades. Appointing specific individuals as leaders of a particular LGBTQI movement, when that movement has actually been nurtured by hundreds or thousands of people who have vastly diverse needs and priorities, takes away from the collective solutions and care work that local organizers are incubating and implementing every day without public recognition.

It is also vital for us to consider how compromised digital security and threats of physical harm and destruction can affect entities who are marginalized within the larger LGBTQI community itself. As a result, many groups need to organize anonymously due to their country or region’s prevailing efforts towards criminalization of non-normative genders and sexualities as well as attacks on civic space. The impact of such grassroots collectives operating largely underground has often gone unrecognized despite their critical contributions to their communities in contrast to groups operating visibly and with greater recognition in relatively safer environments. The contributions of groups who do not get their share of limelight due to security concerns are immense – they often are the first to build intentional communities, create safer spaces, and bring about shifts in culture and behavior. They serve as vital components of a strong movement infrastructure, and funders and advocates need to identify ways to uplift their legacies.

LGBTQI history is tied to so many of our current struggles to upend the deeply entrenched legacies of colonization and genocide that continue to harm our lands and our planet. Since Astraea’s inception in 1977, we have witnessed the ways that individual leadership in a movement can obscure the invisibilized contributions of generations of frontline activists, which can in turn, compromise our collective liberation. As a result, we have always funded and resourced grassroots groups rather than individuals alone. Given this context, as part of our #QueersMakingHistory social media series this October, we have chosen to uplift LGBTQI individuals with limited means from the Global South, all of whom have demonstrated the true power of working together through forming coalitions and alliances. This LGBT History Month, we seek to uplift the emancipatory impact of ‘leader-full’ movements where everyone is considered a leader in their own right and is empowered with the required tools to become effective organizers. And most importantly, we know that when we move collectively, we are truly powerful.

#QueersMakingHistory Highlights:

Jeanne Córdova: Jeanne is a Chicana second-wave feminist lesbian activist and proud butch who has been instrumental in shaping U.S. based gay and lesbian rights movements for many decades. Jeanne has been Astraea’s friend for a number of years. Before she passed away in early 2016, she proclaimed, “It is wonderful to have had a life’s cause: freedom and dignity for lesbians,” and announced that her estate would donate $2 million to Astraea to carry out just that goal.

Hiker Chiu: Hiker is a senior Asian intersex activist who has been a pioneer of the intersex human rights movement in the Asian region. S/he founded OII-Chinese in 2008 which is an intersex human rights advocacy organization and is a platform for Chinese-speaking intersex people to receive information, awareness, connection and peer support. Currently, Hiker serves as a Advisory Board member of the Intersex Human Rights Fund at Astraea.

Kohl Journal: Kohl is a progressive, feminist journal on gender and sexuality focused on the Middle East, South West Asia, and North Africa regions.. This radical journal exists to ensure that MENA regions and communities play a central role in redefining their own intersections and challenges when it comes to feminist and sexuality research.

Lilit Martirosyan: Lilit is an Armenian transgender activist who has been committed to equal rights the LGBTQI+ community. Despite unfavourable conditions, she managed to set up the Right Side Human Rights Defender NGO in January 2016 which has become a safe space for the Armenian trans community and sex workers.

A. Revathi: A. Revathi is a prominent trans woman activist, writer, theatre actor, performance artist and transcestor who championed the rights of sexual and gender minorities in India for many decades.

Tatiana Cordero Velásquez: Tatiana Cordero Velásquez was an Ecuadorian scholar of gender studies and activist who has been part of the feminist collectives that worked to ensure the inclusion and proliferation of women’s and LGBTQ rights in Latin American movements. She has also been a national and international consultant and counselor of women’s funds for more than a decade (Mama Cash, GFW, Astraea, UAF-LA) and of Human Rights Watch for the LGBTI initiative.

Liberty Matthyse: Born and brought up in the rural area of Darling, South Africa, Liberty is a South African non-binary trans woman who has constantly fought against the social, economic and political marginalisation of her communities. Liberty has been the Executive Director of Gender DynamiX since 2018. Based in Cape Town, Gender DynamiX advances access to human rights and social justice for trans and gender-diverse persons through avenues such as health, education and legal advocacy.