Roma Women of Vojvodina

The Association of Roma Women Vojvodina’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.

The Association of Roma Women Vojvodina is a non-governmental and non-profit association founded in 2007 to improve the Roma population’s social development (health, education, culture, economy, housing) and to reduce inequality in all aspects of society through providing adequate support to Roma men and women by encouraging them to be self-organized. They want to bring especially Roma women and youth to engage in social wisdom on an equal basis with all national communities and nations. Their 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. The long-term goal is to end the stigma and discrimination of intersex people by increasing the empathy and cooperation of young Roma towards and with persons belonging to the intersex population.

Bangladesh Intersex Forum

Bangladesh Intersex Forum’s goal is to create awareness of intersex issues among the masses and support intersex people’s livelihood and human rights through capacity building, grassroots organizing, advocacy, research, and strategic litigation.

Bangladesh Intersex Forum (BIF), formally formed on December 7, 2020, with the support of Intersex Asia, is the first organization in Bangladesh led by intersex people. Its goal is to create awareness of intersex issues among the masses and support intersex people’s livelihood and human rights through capacity building, grassroots organizing, advocacy, research, and strategic litigation. In Bangladesh, parents are quick to do “correctional” surgery on intersex bodies very early on in their lives. Thus, intersex people suffer from levels of extreme trauma and are stuck in a vicious dark circle. BIF wants to break that curse by genuinely empowering them with consultations and capacity building programs. It has collected intersex stories from grassroots to publish in the Daily Star, a popular national newspaper, and to empower intersex people by buying cattle or training them in garment sewing for their livelihood. BIF has a strong partnership with Oboyob–Diversity Circle (formerly known as Boys of Bangladesh),the oldest platform of self-identified LGBTI individuals in Bangladesh.

Asociación Peruana de Personas Intersexuales

Asociación Peruana de Personas Intersexuales’ goal is to create a space to support and assist intersex people and their families in Peru since intersex issues are entirely invisible in the country, and there is a great deal of misinformation around the topic.

Asociación Peruana de Personas Intersexuales was founded in 2020 by an intersex woman with CAH with the support of Brújula Intersexual (Mexico). The goal was to create a space to support and assist intersex people and their families in Peru since intersex issues are entirely invisible in the country, and there is a great deal of misinformation around the topic. Asociación Peruana de Personas Intersexuales is the only Peruvian intersex organization. It seeks to create a large community of intersex people in the entire Peruvian territory to support, inform, give value, and create societal consciousness in Peru around intersex experiences. They plan to do this by creating a welcoming, empathetic and understanding space made up by intersex people —while at the same time distancing themselves from the pathologizing rhetoric, the binary and heteronormativity.

Colectivo Intertulias

Coletivo Intertulias was born in 2014 to have a space for solidarity and peer support for people who experience the realities of being intersex.

Coletivo Intertulias was born in 2014 to have a space for solidarity and peer support for people who experience the realities of being intersex. This space serves to analyze and make policy proposals in favor of intersex populations. It also helps raise awareness of the realities of Intersex people’s lives and exercise political activism to reclaim intersex people’s rights. Its mission is to push advocacy efforts and raise awareness for the intersex population in Ecuador through content creation that contributes to the acknowledgement of Intersex people and public policy in favor of their rights.

IntersexualesChile

IntersexualesChile’s main goal is to ensure an active network that can support intersex people as well as help and support families in making decisions regarding the health of future intersex children.

IntersexualesChile (previously Brújula Intersexual Chile) was founded in 2016 with the support of Brújula Intersexual (Mexico). Their main goal is to ensure an active network that can support intersex people as well as help and support families in making decisions regarding the health of future intersex children. The organization also aims incentivize personal well-being rather than performing corrective and aesthetic surgeries, which only end up harming the person being operated in a physical, psychological and social way. In addition to directly helping families, they are interested in being part of various working groups at the Ministry of Health to ensure that Chile complies with Memo 17, which stipulates that genital surgery cannot be performed on intersex babies. They see it as essential to have their rights openly known as well as respected.

Groupe Intersexe Désirs / Inter-Désirs

GIDE’s goal is to disseminate knowledge about intersex people in the wider communities, to promote intersex people’s desires for physical integrity and self-determination, and to encourage a change of approach to the intersex issue

GIDE was created on November 8, 2020 in the wake of the celebration of International Intersex Awareness Day (celebrated in the West but little known in French-speaking Africa) to gradually contribute to disseminating knowledge about intersex people in the wider communities, to promote intersex people’s desires for physical integrity and self-determination, and to encourage a change of approach to the intersex issue, wrongly considered a disorder by the medical and educational world and a taboo by the rest of society. The main goal is to free intersex people from the yoke of customs and disorders and allow them to achieve their full potential. Thus the mission of GIDE is to contribute to social change concerning the perception of intersex to remove it from the realm of disorders and evil taboos and to gradually succeed in reducing and even eradicating all acts of social intolerance and physical violence perpetrated on the bodies of intersex children for the sake of social conformity without their prior consent.

Intersex Philippines

Intersex Philippines’ goal is to advocate for the collective need to be included in society without stigma and prejudice.

Intersex Philippines started as an online group until its members decided to form the group and register as an organisation to represent the intersex community of the country. Their goal is to advocate for the collective need to be included in society without stigma and prejudice. The main idea of the group was to give support to fellow intersex individuals in the form of online counseling and sharing of experience since intersex individuals are isolated thus making it difficult for them to discuss their body, health, sexual orientation and other issues. The group organized its first-ever IntersexPhilippines Forum in December 2019, giving rise to its membership and visibility in online and other forms of broadcast media in the country. The organization aims to uplift its members’ lives by giving them the opportunity to learn skills that they can use for their income building capacity to support themselves since intersex individuals face difficulties in finding economic means of living.

Collective care is at the heart of global intersex movements built around solidarity and community

We caught up with Astraea Intersex Human Rights Fund (IHRF) Senior Program Officer, Ruth Baldacchino, and Program Associate, Loé Petit, to find out more about how intersex communities have been impacted by the pandemic, how they’re adapting their work to best serve their communities in this changing world, and what they need to see them through.

Astraea’s blog, Collective Care Blog: Building the Power & Resilience of LBTQI Movements Now & for the Long Haulis Astraea’s response to the global COVID-19 pandemic. As a feminist LBTQI funder, we believe it is our responsibility to shed light on the ways our communities are particularly impacted by the crisis, share insights around the criticality of healing justice and collective care, as well as the ways in which we’re digging deep to keep shifting power to the grassroots in meaningful and sustainable ways.

***

Everything people are doing to take care of the community can be seen as healing justice or collective care and this work has been part of the practices of the intersex movement since its very beginning. It is the very reason the intersex movement was born in the first place.

– Loé Petit, Intersex Human Rights Fund Program Associate

On November 8, we commemorated Intersex Day of Solidarity, an annual day of remembrance during which we reflect on the ongoing struggles of the global intersex community. This year in particular, the global intersex communitylike so many other marginalized communities around the worldhas been deeply impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and its ongoing knock-on effects. From financial hardships to isolation from their chosen communities, intersex people and the growing global intersex movement are experiencing numerous challenges to their ability to survive, organize, and thrive. Yet simultaneously, intersex organizations have continued tirelessly to look out and provide for each other, from building critical online community spaces to setting up mutual aid networks.

As the pandemic continues to rage across the globe, intersex organizationswhich are already amongst the most vulnerable in terms of their access to resources and supportneed sustained, flexible funding to be able to grow and build power for their movements and themselves. We caught up with Astraea Intersex Human Rights Fund (IHRF) Senior Program Officer, Ruth Baldacchino, and Program Associate, Loé Petit, to find out more about how intersex communities have been impacted by the pandemic, how they’re adapting their work to best serve their communities in this changing world, and what they need to see them through.

[This interview has been edited for clarity and length.]

How have intersex organizations and movements had to adapt their strategies to meet the COVID-19 moment?

Loé Petit: All our grantee partners have had to adjust their strategies and activities. A lot of groups have shifted a lot of their work online to try and create a sense of community in the face of restrictions on movement. OII Europe for example started a series they are calling “Camp Fires” where intersex community members and activists come together to watch movies together and then discuss them. Other grantee partners who regularly provide peer support or family support have moved those activities online. Additionally, while many groups have moved online, groups like the Intersex Community of Zimbabwe have been physically going to rural areas to do trainings around making hand soap and hand sanitizer. In Asia, many of our grantee partners have been providing mutual aid support through either direct donations to those in need and/or supplying food.

Ruth Baldacchino: The main takeaway of all this is that everyone has been impacted and people are not only having to change their strategies but alsolike usshifting the way they work, where they work, how to engage with their members or with other community members. Many have also repurposed their grants, shifting that money from support to the organization to buying, as Loé said, food packages and supporting community members even with temporary accommodations, and medical and other basic supplies. 

Can you tell us a little bit more about how the pivot to primarily online work has been for intersex groups?

RB: Yeah, so even pre-COVID different groups engaged with their members differently; they had different strategies. Some were already doing a lot of online work and they were connecting with other members or other intersex organizations via social media and online, others were doing more community work, going into towns and villages to reach out and support families.

Existing infrastructure challenges play a critical role in this: those who did not have the best access to the internet are still facing those challenges, and in some cases they’ve worsened. It’s also a bit early to determine the long-term impact and shifts. In the first few months, people were really addressing the emerging and very urgent needs like access to food and other supplies, and if this goes on longer I think groups will be continuing to rethink and rework their campaigns and their strategies.

LP: Yeah, I agree. When we talk about shifting to online campaigns, it really depends on the capacity and local infrastructure that is available. In some regions, like parts of Africa and Latin America, it makes things much harder, while in other regionsespecially for those not living in big citiesshifting online has in some cases allowed people to gather more easily because more people can join from their homes.

How have intersex activists and organizers been specifically impacted by the restrictions on movement as a result of the pandemic?

LP: One of the first things that comes to mind is the postponement of the 5th International Intersex Forum which was originally scheduled to take place in March of 2020. This year would have been the first international forum since 2017and the movement has grown and changed a lot since thenand its postponement has had a real impact on intersex movements’ morale as well of course as their capacity building. The forum eventually took place as an online conference from September 30 – October 26, 2020, which was obviously very different than having it in person because while the conference part of the forum is important, it is usually in those other moments, when organizers get together socially and more informally and meet as human beings that connections are really formed. And I would say this is especially important in the intersex community because there are still such few spaces where intersex people can gather and meet.

As I’ve said previously, shifting to online meetings is sometimes more inclusive because it allows those who have less mobility to take part as well. But moving online shifts the focus of these meetings to be centered around political activism work, and doesn’t allow for as much trust building between humans. So I think that could have an impact on the capacity of the grantees to build stronger regional networks, and especially with new people. It becomes especially difficult for a newer generation of activists to get involved, because the regional in-person meetings are also a way to learn from and meet more experienced activists.

RB: I agree, and one of the things that we’ve always argued as a fund and as Astraea, is the need to support the creation of spaces, physical spaces. We’ve built a lot of our work around supporting those spaces, whether it’s the regional meetings, other capacity building work, or the forum. As someone who’s been in those spaces for many years, I could see the huge impact they have had on the movement. We’ve seen declarations, consensus statements coming out from the movement. We’ve seen organizations being formed. We’ve seen agreements and disagreements as well, but that’s how movements emerge. This restriction of movement is significant.

Additionally, these spaces have also become incredibly important for donors. Donors wait to see the outcomes and the key decisions that are made in these meetings. So this also impacts our work as a fund, as a donor. We’ve all built our work around movement, literally moving. For me as a program officer, the conferences and those spaces were always an opportunity to connect, form friendships, and get to understand the intersex activist landscape better.

What has the impact of all this meant for intersex organizations’ ability to do advocacy work?

RB: A lot of the advocacy has stopped or slowed down because people aren’t able to be at the institutions where that work is usually carried out, whether those are regional human rights institutions, or international ones, like the UN. This is of course not just an intersex movement issue. This is a big concern because advocacy strategies are important, they build on past work, they build on connections, on networks, on being in the same physical space as the policymakers and the governments. So it’s difficult to imagine what this means, for activists to not be able to be in New York or in Geneva and keep that momentum, to have human rights mechanisms and treaty bodies really listen to intersex people directly when they’re reviewing countries, when they’re making recommendations. 

Shifting gears a little bit, can you speak about the economic impacts of the pandemic for intersex people and movements?

LP: So at the moment of course we don’t have enough quantitative data, but what we do know as I’ve mentioned is that in general people in more informal sectors and non-traditional sectorswhich many intersex people are a part ofhave been badly affected. Beyond this, I think it’s important to name the ways in which some funders have shifted their priorities and the impact that is having on intersex organizations.

RB: Yeah, what we saw as well as what grantees have reported, was some donors shifting priorities and sometimes also reducing funding for LGBTQI programing and shifting it to development or humanitarian aid as the pandemic hit. That was very worrying because that happened instantly with some funders. It didn’t allow groups to plan or to find other sources of funding to mitigate the effects, and that is still a concern. As donors that’s definitely on our mind.

Following up on that, what do you believe Astraea and the IHRF’s specific role is through this pandemic, both from the perspective of supporting intersex grantees, but also in terms of advocating for more intersex funding with other donors?

RB: Primarily what we started noticing earlier this year when the pandemic began spreading throughout the world and we started learning more about its impacts, was that intersex people were not being mentioned anywhere. They were absolutely missing from all the conversations that donors were having around the impacts of COVID-19. Even within LGBTQI donor spaces, as we were shifting our work to online meetings, trying to understand how to react and support our grantees in this pandemic, intersex people were missing from the conversation. So that has definitely been a big part of our role, to create donor spaces to specifically discuss intersex issues and to share with other donors what we’re hearing and learning from our grantees. That’s always been our role as a fund, but this year it’s particularly important.

In these spaces, we share a lot of what we’ve just discussed and we highlightas we always havethe need for flexible funding. I think the pandemic really reinforces that need. Because of the flexible funding we provided, grantees were in a position to shift their programming, to shift their grants to buy food, provide shelter and accommodation. If that funding was restricted funding, they wouldn’t have been able to do that. And I think hopefully this year should have been a clear reminder to funders that flexible funding is the only way to support movements and intersex organizations. That remains our key message because of all these emerging issues and challenges, flexible funding is the only way to support a movement sustainably and on a longer term.

Finally, how do and how have intersex organizations incorporated healing justice and collective care strategies into their work and activism?

RB: In some ways, this is a question of how we frame healing justice and collective care strategies in relation to intersex movements. For intersex communities and movements, addressing trauma through different strategies and approaches has always been one of the ways that intersex organizations have practiced collective care and healing justice.

LP: I think the work of intersex organizations has really always been about centering community. So when I spoke about OII Europe organizing ‘Camp Fires’ to keep up the morale, that’s community care. And when I spoke about Intersex Community of Zimbabwe delivering trainings on how to make soap and sanitizer, that’s community care. Everything people are doing to take care of the community can be seen as healing justice or collective care and this work has been part of the practices of the intersex movement since its very beginning. It is the very reason the intersex movement was born in the first place.

***

Want to read more from our Collective Care Blog? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram to stay up-to-date on the latest posts!

DeGenderation Confederation

DeGenderation Confederation (DGC) is a non-profit organization working with the goal of abolishing the gender norm system towards sustainable and inclusive equality in society.

DeGenderation Confederation (DGC) is a non-profit organization working with the goal of abolishing the gender norm system towards sustainable and inclusive equality in society. In order to achieve the ideal society, DGC mobilizes empowerment activities, enhances the capacity of community organizations for organizations to develop and eliminate the social construction of gender. At the same time, DGC establishes a network for joint advocacy to promote social change. In the next 5 years (2019 -2024), DGC willfocus on advocating for the rights of intersex people, and then non-binary minority groups and queers with awareness-raising activities for both community-based organizations and civil society organizations at local on the knowledge of sexual diversity and methodology of the social construction of gender. At the same time, DGC builds a space for sharing knowledge, tools and experiences to not only work together for social mobilization but also be a strong support platform for voicing inequalities and discrimination.

The Intersex and Family Support Network

The Intersex and Family Support Network serves the families of intersex people, parents and babies, children, teenagers, and particularly intersex adults.

The Intersex and Family Support Network – Jacob(y) – Rede de Apoio à Pessoa Intersexo e Família – Jacob(y) – was created after Thais Emilia; mother of an intersex baby named Jacob, who needed to be brought to São Paulo to address a congenital heart problem, however, the child ended up dying. With the network, Thais sought out core teams of caregivers (doctors and psychologists) who had in common the defense and promotion of the physical and psychological integrity of intersex babies. From this network, it was possible to accept the demands of intersex people who were unaware of their access rights to health. Some request assistance because they had sequelae from non-consensual genital surgeries they suffered in the past, or even because they lived with rare diseases that had to come to centers with more health equipment. Most of them are sent to São Paulo (Brazil) to continue treatments with specialists. The visits were made in person or remotely, especially in the last seven months due to the pandemic. This network has a partnership with ABRAI and UNIFESP, especially psychologist Dr. Mariana Telles Silveira, endocrinologist Dr. Magnus R. Dias da Silva and pediatric surgeon Dr. Mila Torii.