We exist!

Astraea’s statement on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services memo released by the New York Times on October 21, 2018.

Trans people are not an aberration.
Intersex people exist.
Non-binary folks will not be silenced.
We will not be legislated out of existence.  

The identities, bodies, and lived experiences of trans, gender non-conforming, and intersex people are not up for debate or political opinion. They are a fundamental part of our lives and our liberation. ALL people are entitled to the protection of basic human rights; to live and thrive without having our bodies and existence threatened and questioned.

The recent U.S. Department of Health and Human Services memo tries to establish a retrograde definition of “sex” as unchangeable and either “male” or “female”. It is an attempted erasure of the very existence of trans and non-binary people, and intersex people whose sex characteristics do not neatly align as “male” or “female.” The very fact of it incites intolerance and hate crimes towards those who are different and threatens their access to employment, housing, education, and healthcare. It is an attempt to create ideological schisms and use the double speak of “irrefutable” science while cutting all funding to and otherwise undermining actual science and lived experience, leaving those who are already marginalized even more vulnerable.

In the United States and around the world, the right-wing ‘gender ideology’ campaign has deliberately misrepresented queer and feminist politics in order to justify discrimination against LGBTQI people.Right-wing fundamentalists and populist leaders are using thiscoded doublespeak, alongside white supremacist rhetoric, to delegitimize populations’ right to equal protections under the law, to public resources, and social policies. This is a strategic maneuver to grab power, money, and natural resources at the expense, demise and criminalization of trans, intersex and gender non-conforming people, women and people of color. It is a red flag far beyond our community. They are banking on gender panic to mobilize a culture war to disguise their populist takeover. They would have us believe that we do not belong nor should we exist.

But we exist. We have always existed.

As feminist funders, Astraea grounds ourselves in a political identity that demands inclusivity, challenges oppressive norms, and centers those who are most marginalized, and most at risk. We exist to shift power and resources to those who are literally fighting for their lives. We will not stop.

Fascism is not slowing down, and neither are we. We are protesting from Washington Square Park, NY to D.C. We are registering to vote in numbers. We are defending one another physically, emotionally, and financially by turning our anger into action, by showing up and resisting colonial cisnormativity and heteronormativity, patriarchal forces that would have us erased.

Will you stand with us on the right side of history and build a safe, loving and life affirming future for all people? Do what you can do in this moment.

We exist! Stand up. Show up. Fight Back. Win.

Some ways to get involved:

  • Take action to support the rights and protections of trans and GNC people, using this essential checklist compiled by Chase Strangio of the ACLU
  • For cisgender allies, prioritize the wellbeing of trans communities by educating yourselves, speaking out, and checking in
  • Read, share, and learn about ways to ‘Queer the Vote’ ahead of the midterm elections in them.’s powerful, interactive guide for queer voters
  • Resource and fund grassroots organizations led by trans, gender non-conforming, intersex and queer people, and people of color by supporting the grantee partners of the Astraea Foundation



In solidarity,

J. Bob Alotta
Executive Director

State of Funding for LBQ Movements: Global Activist Survey

Astraea and Mama Cash are pleased to launch the State of Funding for LBQ Movements global survey, available in English, Spanish, French and Russian.

Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice and Mama Cash are pleased to launch the State of Funding for LBQ Movements global survey, available in English, Spanish, French, and Russian! There is very little information available on the funding priorities, needs, and challenges of LBQ groups, organizations, and networks. Participation in this survey will help us generate this data and allow us to make the case for more and better resourcing for LBQ communities.

As long as LBQ activists make up at least 50% of the leadership of your group, organization, or network, your group can participate! Your group can work specifically with LBQ communities or on LBQ issues, or it can work more broadly on other human rights issues. Your group can also participate if it is unregistered or informal. Please share this survey with your peers and partners that also meet this criteria, as it is an invaluable opportunity to generate data and analysis which can be used to advocate for improved funding to LBQ movements.

The survey is anonymous and will take approximately 15-20 minutes to complete.

Astraea and Mama Cash are collaborating with Feminist Solutions towards Global Justice (FemJust) on this survey. If you require assistance to complete the survey, please contact Linda Saleh at linda@femjust.com

A note on terminology: We recognize that language is limited, gender exists on a continuum, and that labels oftentimes cannot adequately describe LBQ people’s work and communities. Through a consultative process with activists over a yearlong period, we have chosen to use the term “LBQ.” This refers to the focus on sexual identity; it includes all women (cis and trans) and all non-binary people on the gender spectrum who relate to a lesbian, bisexual, and/or queer identity.

Please take the survey by November 16, 2018!

Available in:

Meet our Jeanne Córdova Fund grantee partners!

We are delighted to announce this year’s Jeanne Córdova Fund grantee partners.

Pictured (L to R): Aireana (Paraguay) and Forum for the Empowerment of Women (South Africa)

We are delighted to announce this year’s Jeanne Córdova Fund grantee partners.

This year, Astraea’s Jeanne Córdova Fund awarded $130,000 in grants to 10 visionary grassroots organizations across Latin America and Southern Africa dedicated to sustaining lesbian and queer feminist movements. These groups are furthering intersectional, intergenerational movement-building, creating new forms of resistance, building power, developing cultural activism among lesbian, butch, feminist, and gender nonconforming communities and imagining new futures into being. Grantee partners are centering black, indigenous, and working-class voices, and following lesbian and queer feminist principles, which emphasize the importance of cross-issue organizing and collaboration. Organizations are:

  • Responding creatively to violence and threats against LGBTI+ communities: In Ecuador, Mujer y Mujer organized a self-care retreat this year, convening 11 LGBTI+ activists from 4 different regions to recharge and reflect on their strategies and activism against increased attacks from conservative and religious movements.
  • Providing critical safe spaces for resistance and the production of feminist cultural content: In Paraguay, Aireanas vibrant cultural community center, “La Serafina,” provides a unique space for merging theater, cultural activism, and political education aimed at challenging stereotypical gender roles and supporting the leadership of LBQ communities.
  • Developing rights literacy, advocacy, and communications training: In Zimbabwe, PaKasipiti will host an LBT advocacy symposium that will serve as a forum for growing activism and address the demands of national and regional LGBTQ and feminist coalitions.
  • Creating sustainable LGBTQI networks and alliances: In South Africa, Forum for the Empowerment of Women (FEW) has developed the Rainbow Activist Alliance (RAA), a network of 15 community-based LGBTI organizations across the country that work collectively to secure greater access to public health care, reform discriminatory policies within the criminal justice system, and build black lesbian leadership.

Before she passed away in 2016, Jeanne Córdova announced that her estate would donate $2 million over 10 years to Astraea to help sustain the very movements that supported her as a young Chicana-lesbian activist. Through the Jeanne Córdova Fund, she created decades of possibility for Astraea, for our movements, and for our people. Please join us in celebrating the work of these powerful grantee partners and read more about their work in the links below.

Aireana – Grupo por los Derechos de las Lesbianas // Colectivo No Tengo Miedo // Forum for the Empowerment of Women (FEW) // Fundación de Desarrollo Humano Integral CAUSANA // GLEFAS- Grupo Latinoamericano De Estudios, Formacion Y Accion Feminista // Lesbianas Independientes Feministas y Socialistas (LIFS) // Limpopo LGBTI Proudly Out // Mujer y Mujer // Mujeres Al Borde // PaKaspiti Zimbabwe

P.S. Join us in supporting LGBTQI activism all over the world by donating or following us on social media!


Why We Fund: Healing Justice

Astraea is thrilled to have two staff members from grantee partner Audre Lorde Project joining us as part of our Why We Fund event series.

We are thrilled to be in conversation with Tasha Amezcua and Simone Sobers of the Audre Lorde Project! Join us for this luncheon at Astraea’s office in NYC for a conversation with Tasha and Simone about the framework of healing justice and its practice within political strategies and movements that intervene on inter-generational trauma and state and institutional violence. Tasha and Simone will share how the Audre Lorde Project centers healing justice within their political strategies, and inside their local campaigns for community-led and determined safety and healing.

Light refreshments will be served. To RSVP, please email zlord@astraeafoundation.org

Astraea is growing!

Our team continues to grow and reflect a global feminist diaspora in the leadership of philanthropy.

Our team continues to grow and reflect a global feminist diaspora in the leadership of philanthropy. Irvin Lozano brings his whiz accounting skills to our fiscal team as a Junior Accountant. We’re delighted to have Tatenda Ngwaru, an amazing intersex activist from Zimbabwe, join our program team as the Grants Management Associate. Based in Botswana, the fierce feminist Lame Olebile also joins us as a Program Officer managing grants portfolios in Africa and Asia. This summer, Mihika Srivastava will also bring her strong writing and research skills to Astraea as a Communications Program Associate.

Our team continues to uplift Astraea’s tenets of advocacy; to resource and be thought partners with LGBTQI global movement leadership as we resist and build collective power and liberation.

With deep gratitude,

The Astraea Team

Meet our new staff members

Irvin Lozano, Junior Accountant

Irvin Lozano began his college education pursuing a degree in Biology. With the help of a close friend, he landed a job in finance at a manufacturing company, and over the course of 6 years taught himself the in’s and out’s of basic accounting. [Read more]

Tatenda Ngwaru, Grants Management Associate

Tatenda Ngwaru is a Zimbabwean Intersex Activist now based in New York as an asylum seeker. She ran the first Intersex and Transgender organisation in Zimbabwe for 4 years. She is a motivational speaker and activist advocating for the rights of LGBTQI refugees and Intersex individuals. [Read more]

Lame Olebile, Program Officer – Africa & Asia

Lame Olebile is a Pan-Africanist, queer feminist passionate about social justice. Her experience is in human rights with a strong background in LGBTQI issues and a wealth of experience in the LGBTQI movement. [Read more]

Mihika Srivastava, Communications Program Associate

Mihika is a human rights and gender justice advocate, dedicated to uplifting and amplifying the voices of intersectional feminist communities worldwide. She believes in the distinct power of storytelling to create policy and culture change around gender norms and injustices. [Read more]

Angela Bowen – It is our job to know her!

Honoring the life of Black lesbian feminist activist and dancer Angela Bowen.

Black. Lesbian. Feminist. Artist. Activist. Organizer. Mother. Mentor. Writer. Professor. Intellectual. Her influence lives on in anyone who watched her dance, heard her speak or read her words.

It is with profound respect, sadness, awe and gratitude that we honor the life of Angela Bowen who died on July 12, 2018 at the age of 82, after fighting Alzheimer’s disease for a number of years. Astraea was privileged to recognize her formidable influence and the gift of her life by presenting her as an Acey Social Justice Feminist Award honoree in July 2017; the award honors lesbian and trans women of color over the age of 62 who have made significant but under-recognized contributions to our movements. It uplifts their legacy and tells their stories.

Angela Bowen followed her uncompromising vision across the decades of her life in the face of poverty, racism, sexism, ageism and homophobia. She influenced and inspired legends by being herself, encouraging people to have faith in themselves, to discover their own talents, and to follow their dreams, but not for themselves alone, rather to “move the line forward,” she said, reminding us “we don’t have to do just one thing.”

“I’m a black, lesbian, feminist, writer, activist,” Bowen once said. “I see all of those as equal functions. I feel as though I’ve got a mission to be out front.”

And indeed she was.

She trained and taught at the legendary Elma Lewis School of Fine Arts in Roxbury from 14 to 22. Her talent and skills enabled her to dance professionally and establish the Bowen Peters School of Dance in inner city New Haven, Connecticut, which she ran with her husband for nearly two decades. In the 1970s, she discovered feminism and specifically the work of poet warrior, Audre Lorde, leading her to follow a new life path. Bowen came out as lesbian in the 1980’s and was an active speaker, writer, and advocate for groups such as the National Coalition of Black Lesbians and Gays. She was one of the first recipients of a Ph.D. in Women’s Studies at Clark University. As an Audre Lorde Scholar, she wrote and spoke about the connections between and across social justice movements, advocating fiercely for black youth.

She met her longtime partner, Dr. Jennifer Lynn Abod, while living in Cambridge, and after more than 30 years together, she and Abod married in 2013.

When stories exploring the complexities of black lesbian women’s lives are rarely told, Angela Bowen is someone we should all know.

“Angela Bowen’s name should roll off our tongues with pride. She danced in and through her identities, owning blackness, lesbian feminism, vision and grace. It is our job to know her. This is why and how we need to stay connected,” said Astraea Executive Director J. Bob Alotta.

Read this interview with Jennifer Abod on the life and legacy of Angela Bowen and the film she made “The passionate pursuits of Angela Bowen”—because in the words of Audre Lorde, “Who would believe our stories unless we tell them?”

This 2018, we’ve showed up!

So far in 2018, we’ve been hustling in big and small ways to fuel movements for global LGBTQI justice. Below are a few recent Astraea highlights showcasing the breadth and depth of our collective commitment to liberation.

We’ve been hustling in big and small ways to fuel movements for global LGBTQI justice. Below are a few recent Astraea highlights showcasing the breadth and depth of our collective commitment to liberation. We’re partnering on pioneering LGBTQI research, connecting communities through events and creating spaces that center healing and holistic visions of justice, along with our continued commitment to resource activists on the frontlines. Here’s how we’ve showed up so far this year:

Created space for grantees to share healing justice strategies

Photo: Grantees attend the Healing Justice and Resiliency Gathering

Just before the start of the Allied Media Conference this June in Detroit, Astraea convened members of US Fund grantee partner organizations at our Healing Justice and Resiliency Gathering. The Gathering allowed grantee partners to connect and share healing justice strategies and ideas from their local regional contexts. Later this year, we’ll publish a longer report on Healing Justice and Holistic Security.

Elevated the work we support through the Why We Fund series

Photo: Astraea staff and Why We Fund attendees pose with Aaryn Lang and Katherine Acey following their February 2018 event

Our new Why We Fund event series opened up Astraea’s office in NYC for community members to learn more about who, where, and why we fund. We’ve held events about intergenerational activism, intersex activism, and funding in the Global Southeast, and we’ve lifted up the work of people like Katherine Acey, Aaryn Lang, Pidgeon Pagonis, and Jean Chong. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for announcements about upcoming Why We Fund events.

Reported on digital trans organizing in Central Asia & Eastern Europe

Photo: Mapping Digital Landscapes of Trans Activism in Central Asia and Eastern Europe report

Together with Transgender Europe (TGEU), Astraea released a report providing a regional overview of digital organizing by trans activists in 26 countries of Central Asia and Eastern Europe. The report emphasizes shared patterns of digital usage, barriers to free and safe use of the internet, and resistance strategies to homo/transphobic-motivated censorship, surveillance, and online attacks. Read the report here, and a recently published article via Access Now here.

Convened the first ever regional intersex meetings in Latin America and Asia

Photo: Intersex activists gather at the first Asian Intersex Forum in Bangkok, Thailand

We helped sponsor the first regional intersex convenings in Latin America and Asia. In research from our recent The State of Intersex Organizing (2nd ed) report, intersex groups reported an ongoing desire for convening spaces. The regional meetings provided an excellent opportunity to have focused discussions on regional priorities and strategies; and specific needs for intersex organisations and intersex individuals in the region. Each region produced a statement and two regional networks were set up in Latin America and Asia. Read the statements from each convening: AsiaLatin America.

Connected communities through events

Photo: Attendees pose for a photo at a February 2018 event in Seattle. Photo credit: Amy Tam Co.

Astraea has helped host events in cities all over the U.S. to bring together Astraea grantee partners, donors, and community members to support LGBTQI movements worldwide. We have many more events planned, so stay tuned—we may soon be in a city near you!

Updated our privacy policy to reflect new legal requirements

In order to comply with the GDPR and to shift with the changing digital landscape, we’ve updated our privacy policy. Read it here!

Created the Astraea House Party Toolkit

Photo: Guests attend our event in Washington, D.C. in January 2018. Photo credit: Beverlie Lord of Satsun Photography

Build community with us, call your friends, and maximize your impact by shifting resources to the frontlines! Hosting a house party for Astraea is now easier than ever! Learn how in our new house party toolkit. By sponsoring a house party, you are helping to promote our mission to advance the economic, political and cultural empowerment of LGBTQI people globally.

Amplified the voices of grantee partners and donors in a series of videos

Photo: Members of grantee partner BreakOUT! based in New Orleans

Our online Video Archive has blossomed! We’re creating a dynamic collection of videos that amplify the voices of grantee partners and donors. Hear more about how Astraea started, being intersex in Asia, the fight for sexual and gender diversity in Palestine, and building trans women’s leadership in South Africa. The latest videos feature TGI Justice Project (TGIJP)S.H.E.Achebe PowellKatherine AceyalQawsOii-ChineseAlice HomJewelle Gomez and Diane Sabin, and more!

Strengthened Kenyan activists’ messaging through audience research and testing

Photo: Participants map out strategies at a Strategic Communications Project workshop in Kenya

Over the last year, Astraea has been engaging LGBTQI organizations and activists in Kenya to use social science research on audience messaging to inform their communications strategies. Throughout this pilot project, LGBTQI organizations in Kenya have been working to understand their audiences—specifically, potential allies—in order to create messages that speak to their shared values and encourage them to be more supportive of all Kenyans regardless of their sexual orientation and gender identity. We are currently preparing for the final workshop, where activists will collaboratively analyze message testing and hone their storytelling skills.

Launched our Fertile Ground Fund making a total of $110,000 in grants to 15 organizations

Photo: Members of Audre Lorde Project based in New York City. Photo credit: Jeyhoun Allebaugh

Organizations often require more than just campaign-based support, they need resources to heal, survive, thrive and make change. The Fertile Ground Fund bolsters our movements’ capacities to build power by providing a flexible source of funding based on unanticipated or emerging needs and desires of Astraea’s grantee partners. It supports projects that combat the violence of policing, deepen cross-movement collaborations to end state criminalization, and invest in resiliency strategies for long-term sustainability. Stay tuned for more information on the grantee partners and the next round of grantmaking.

2018 #AstraeaPride Highlights

This Pride month, we’re grateful for all the grantee partners, staff, board, and supporters who are an integral part of the work for collective liberation.

This Pride month, we’re grateful for all the grantee partners, staff, board, and supporters who are an integral part of the work for collective liberation.

Check out the video above for recent highlights from Astraea and our grantee partners–know that you are an integral part of the work for collective liberation.

Read our most recent Annual Report to find out even more highlights from our grantee partners and supporters!

Meet our grantee partner, TGIJP

Listen as TGIJP current and former staff share more about their work supporting incarcerated and formerly incarcerated trans and gender nonconforming people.

TGIJP was founded in 2004 with the mission to challenge and end human rights abuses against transgender, gender variant and intersex people, especially transgender women, in California prisons and beyond.

In the video above, TGIJP current and former staff share more about their work supporting incarcerated and formerly incarcerated trans and gender nonconforming people.

Learn more about TGIJP.





Video transcript:

[Miss Major]: My generation has leaped over cars, ran from police, been beaten, stoned, puked, had, thrown underneath the bus, and then told, “What’s your problem? Why can’t you just get over it?”

Well the things that were happening for the transgender women of color at the time that we began was primarily the same thing that’s going on now. That they’re being picked up and harassed for just doing things that involve their daily lives, that they haven’t done anything that warrants them being taken up off the street, abused and beaten and thrown into jail.

And so the purpose of us was to give them a sense of hope, a meaning, to let them know that somebody gave a damn about who they were.

[Janetta Johnson:] The majority of the women that come in for services are formerly incarcerated homeless transgender women. There’s a lot of psychological and emotional abuse. When trans women are basically verbally attacked by the jail staff, it puts trauma on top of the trauma that we already face being trans people.

There’s not a system set up in there to provide adequate, culturally competent medical and mental health.

[Janetta Johnson into megaphone]: “Our incarcerated members know that we’re here and we support them.”

[Miss Major:] The funding from Astraea was a blessing because, you know, nobody wants to deal with anyone in prison, period.

The money that we got gave us an opportunity to take those things that people thought about my community, and change them by educating them, by giving them the opportunity to alter and change their lives to something better.

[Janetta Johnson:] Astraea gave us an opportunity to continue to support our programs. We bring in a bunch of volunteers and we correspond to trans, gender nonconforming folks that are in prison and getting out of prison.

We have a family concept, and you know, Miss Major’s the mother of all of us.

I’m very happy and grateful that I get to lead this organization into the future.

I would like to see TGIJP be able to provide a lot more support

for transgender women that are in prison and be a collective of all Black trans folks taking care of each other and taking care of our community.

[Miss Major:] I went to prison, I lived in the street, I had to struggle. You know.

And once you’ve done that you go, “Oh god, if I can stop some young girl from having to go through this, I gotta do it.” You know.

And you have to reach down and help the next person up.

Meet Astraea donor, Alice Hom

Astraea donor Alice Hom shares why she chooses to #GiveToAstraea to support grassroots LGBTQI activism all over the world.

Astraea donor Alice Hom is a historian and community builder invested in bridging diverse and overlapping communities. She served on Astraea’s board during the early 00’s, and now serves on the boards of the Los Angeles Commission on the Status of Women, California Humanities, and Borealis Philanthropy.

In the video above, listen as Alice shares why she chooses to #GiveToAstraea to support grassroots LGBTQI activism all over the world.

Listen to Alice Y. Hom’s podcast, Historically Queer, uncovering historical and contemporary stories about LGBTQ Activists of Color, at www.historicallyqueer.com

Want to join Alice as a long-time Astraea supporter? Donate here or join our donor alliance!