Potencia intersex

Potencia intersex wants to build an organization that is able to educate society with the goal of raising awareness about the lived experience of our community, to do consciousness-raising work about the violation of human rights of intersex people, and mobilize society so that they may actively participate in the topic of bodily autonomy, physical and mental integrity, and the right for intersex people to their truth.

The group was formed within the framework of the 34th Multinational Gathering of Women and Dissidences (34° Encuentro Plurinacional de Mujeres y Disidencias) which took place in La Plata in 2019, during the “Intersexuality Workshop.” The development of this space was the result of a process that organizers began remotely through social media, and it was developed as a way to respond to certain needs that emerged in informal chats between members. All the organizers expressed the desire to work as a team, linking our individual efforts through shared projects, so that they could push and have more impact with their work, each of them from their own place of residency. During the Second Intersex Conference of Latin America and the Caribbean they consolidated their team and gave their activist group a name. They want to build an organization that is able to educate society with the goal of raising awareness about the lived experience of our community, to do consciousness-raising work about the violation of human rights of intersex people, and mobilize society so that they may actively participate in the topic of bodily autonomy, physical and mental integrity, and the right for intersex people to their truth.

Intersex People’s Human Rights – ISIO Finland

The overall mission of ISIO Finland is to end stigma and discrimination and ensure intersex people’s access to their fundamental and human rights.

Intersex People’s Human Rights – ISIO Finland was founded in January 2020. Awareness-raising, education and information-sharing on intersex people’s human rights is very topical in Finland. ISIO Finland was founded to ensure that intersex people’s voice is being heard and the human rights of intersex people are being ensured at this critical moment.  

The overall mission of ISIO Finland is to end stigma and discrimination and ensure intersex people’s access to their fundamental and human rights. To achieve this goal the organisation raises awareness, networks and co-operates with relevant stakeholders and shares information and provides expertise to law and policy drafting on the human rights situation of intersex people in Finland. 

Intersex-Nigeria

The mission of Intersex-Nigeria is to create awareness about intersex through public education and social engagements, build a community space for intersex persons to co-habit, provide psychological and well-being support for intersex persons in Nigeria, and advocate for intersex rights in Nigeria.

Intersex-Nigeria was founded on 25th November, 2019. The intersex-led organization was founded by Obioma Chukwuike, an  intersex person from Nigeria who lived the pain and stigmatization meted on them for being intersex. The ugly situations of intersex population in Nigeria includes intersex genital mutation on intersex babies, violent abuse and killings of intersex persons, misogyny against intersex women, discrimination and lack of understanding of what intersex means.

Organizers decided to form the first intersex-led organization in Nigeria to create public awareness of intersex understanding, create visibility and community building for intersex persons and advocate for the rights of intersex persons which includes; rights to bodily integrity, ending stigma and discrimination, creating visibility, ending the killing of intersex babies due to cultural beliefs and ending medical intervention surgeries on intersex babies. 

The mission of the group is to create awareness about intersex through public education and social engagements, build a community space for intersex persons to co-habit, provide psychological and well-being support for intersex persons in Nigeria, and advocate for intersex rights in Nigeria.

Intersex Greece

Intersex Greece wants to spread the word widely, create visibility and protect intersex people’s rights at any age and field of life in Greece.

At 2009 Rinio Simeonidou gave birth to her intersex child, after she was intensively asked/been forced (by two ignorant, homophobic doctors) to terminate in the 5th month and refused. While realizing “intersex” was totally unheard/invisible/unknown in Greece and full pathologized to the extend to press parents to terminate, she started searching in the internet and eventually found and connected with few other parents of intersex kids and a few intersex adults too (first with Lakis Kandylis), with whom she formed the first Greek intersex facebook group. Today, via this group, they are in contact with about 60 families/persons, from all over Greece and support them by peer-to-peer info sharing. They want to spread the word widely, create visibility and protect intersex people’s rights at any age and field of life in Greece. To achieve this, they want/need to create an inclusive, national NGO for intersex people that live in Greece, no matter of nationality, economical status or any other diversity (sex, gender, sexual orientation, colour, religion, economical status, etc).

Overall, they want to create awareness and inclusion for intersex people, so to be legally recognized by the greek laws as a natural state of human beings, having equal rights with men/women. They also want to legally ban cosmetic (non-medical necessary) genital surgeries to intersex babies and children, until they reach an age capable of informed consent.  They want to be able to provide support to new parents-to-be, or to parents of intersex children and peer-to-peer support to intersex individuals. They want their voices to be as formal as possible, so to be heard by the state and its formal entities (education leaders, health leaders, policy makers, religion leaders and anyone in civil/policy command in Greece). Article 7 of the Draft Law on gender reassignment surgeries of the Legislative Committee of the Ministry of Justice prohibited explicitly non-therapeutic surgeries on intersex infants but it was disappeared before reaching the Parliament. Currently, Law 4491/2017 on gender reassignment surgeries includes only the definition of “sex characteristics” in its preamble leaving intersex people legally unrecognised.

 

Intersex Advocate Trust Zimbabwe

Intersex Advocate Trust Zimbabwe was formed in 2016 to respond to the psycho social needs of all intersex persons (including intersex children and their parents, and gender non-conforming adults).

The organisation was formed in 2016 to respond to the psycho social needs of all intersex persons (including intersex children and their parents, and gender non-conforming adults). Intersex children face abandonment at birth, corrective sex assignment at birth, backlash against gender non-conformity including in gender expression. Biological essentialism has led to mutilation of some intersex children’s genitalia to fall into an assigned sex either male or female in an absolute binary. Mysticism around intersex births is still a culture barrier to visibility of intersex persons. As time goes on, the children grow entering in adolescence and the nature of their psycho social needs also evolves. Sexual Reproductive Health issues start coming up and the parents and caregivers struggle with responding to the questions posed to them. The service center is inundated with the cries for help from desperate parents as the genitalia of the child becomes an issue. Intersex Advocate Trust Zimbabwe intends to rollout a vertical and horizontal scale up of it’s current activities in order to increase the courage and impact of Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights. The mission of Intersex Advocate Trust Zimbabwe IAZ is to create a society that is non-discriminating to sexuality and human rights and needs. It serves as an advocate of sexual inequalities.

iCon UK

iCon UK represents the interests of people born with intersex traits/variations of sex characteristics (VSC) / diverse or differences in sex development (DSD), hereafter intersex* people and their communities.

Interconnected UK (iCon UK) was officially registered as a charity in January 2020. It began as a group called “Intersex and Allies” which has been operational since 2018. The group was formed when members of existing intersex-led groups forming an alliance, with an aim to provide a peer-support space and guidance space for families and the public. At the heart of iCon UK’s core belief is the positive representation of all intersex people. iCon UK represents the interests of people born with intersex traits/variations of sex development and diverse or differences in sex development (DSD). We do not use just one term, as we know each carries its own purpose and community – our goal is to provide peer support; advocate for better protection, human rights, and to educate society towards understanding and acceptance. 

Introducing our Women’s Voice and Leadership Caribbean grantees!

In partnership with the Equality Fund, we are delighted to announce our first ever Women’s Voice and Leadership (WVL) Caribbean grantee cohort!

In partnership with the Equality Fund, we are delighted to announce our first ever Women’s Voice and Leadership (WVL) Caribbean grantee cohort! Astraea has been proud to support feminist, LBTQI-led grassroots organizing in the region for several years now, and we are excited to expand our support and continue to build feminist power in the Caribbean thanks to this blossoming collaboration!

Over the next three years, a total of USD $881,964 ($1,174,058 Canadian dollars) will be granted to 27 outstanding women’s rights and LBTQI organizations from eight CARICOM countries − Jamaica, Belize, Guyana, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, Saint Lucia, and Suriname.

WVL-Caribbean grantee partners include emerging and established organizations operating in both rural areas and urban settings, representing young women, indigenous women, sex workers, and the LBTQI community. These organizations are working at the intersections of gender-based violence, economic justice, feminist leadership, LBTQI rights, climate change, and more.

From documenting and capturing the realities of lesbian and bisexual women to helping to create safe communities for LBTQI people, each of our WVL grantees plays a critical role in the region’s larger feminist ecosystem. Here are just a few examples of their incredible activism:

  • LEZ Connect, Saint Lucia: LEZ Connect raises awareness on LBT women’s issues and educates the public on the rights of LBT women. They work to create a safe environment for LBTQ women and put an end to violence against women. The group’s main goal is to build and solidify a stronger LBT community within the LGBT population in St. Lucia, and work towards ending violence against LBT women.
  • Guyana Trans United, Guyana: Guyana Trans United was originally formed in 2012 when trans organizers in Guyana fought police brutality against trans sex workers. The organization works to improve the quality of life for transgender Guyanese and to ensure that their rights are recognised in all domains through human rights advocacy by promoting respect and acceptance within the larger society, with the intention to create communities free from violence, prejudice, discrimination, and other negative and adverse conduct against trans people.
  • Our Circle, Belize: Our Circle was founded in 2013 out of the need for a safe, supportive space for LGBT couples, parents, and families in Belize. As LGBT families are currently not legally recognized in Belize, the mission of Our Circle is to advance legal and lived equality for diverse families, and for those who wish to form them, through building community, changing hearts and minds, and driving policy change.

Please join us in celebrating the work of these incredible grantee partners who are working to leave a lasting legacy for women’s and LBTIQ movements in the Caribbean, and read more about their work in the links below.

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Meet Our WVL-Caribbean Grantee Partners:

Belize
Our Circle
Promoting Empowerment Through Awareness for Lesbian and Bisexual Women (PETAL)

Guyana
Guyana RainBow Foundation
Guyana Trans United
Women’s Wednesdays Guyana

Jamaica
WE-Change

Regional
CariFLAGS

Saint Lucia
LEZ Connect

Suriname
Women’S Way Foundation Suriname

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Join our cross-sectoral, multi-generational WVL Caribbean Regional Launch Dialogue taking place today, Thursday September 24 featuring Astraea’s Kerry-Jo Lyn and Equality Fund’s Amina Doherty! Register here

 

Mourning the loss of Ruth Bader Ginsburg

We have indeed lost a giant, a feminist icon, and a visionary jurist.

The recent passing of Ruth Bader Ginsburg (RBG) is a devastating loss for the people of the United States. Astraea recognizes her formidable legacy as a lawyer for the ACLU and a Supreme Court Justice. Throughout her career, RBG championed and staunchly defended reproductive freedom, women’s rights, and the rights of women and LGBTQI people, recognizing the right of employees to work without fear of discrimination due to their sexual orientation or gender identity. She helped pave the way for generations of activists and legal advocates. 

We have indeed lost a giant, a feminist icon, and a visionary jurist. As we mourn the loss of such an important figure in history, we are reminded that the fight for justice – for women, for LGBTQI people, for Black, Brown, migrant, and Indigenous people – is far from over. While her legal work was instrumental in protecting the rights of so many, we know that centering  Indigenous people’s rights and the fight for racial justice must be at the forefront of our activism. This moment then calls on us both to celebrate her life, work, and legacy and to fight harder than ever for justice and dignity for all.  

Quoting Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s abolitionist sentiment she noted, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but bends toward justice” adding, “if there is a steadfast commitment to see the task through to completion.” RBG would want us to get back to work! Today and always, we stand behind our 42 year mission to fuel local and global movements that shift power to the LBTQI grassroots. As we in the U.S. move forward from this loss, we must support and look to movement leaders and activists on the ground – from Black Lives Matter to the climate justice movement led by Indigenous activists  –  advocating for equality for all, and continuing RBG’s legacy with a vision for a truly liberated future – one where we not only belong, but thrive.

Below are some resources on understanding RBG and her triumphs, imperfections, and lasting legacy.

Celebrating Bi Visibility Day

This Bi Visibility Day, we are proud to celebrate vibrant and powerful bisexual communities around the world.

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.

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by Sabrina Rich, Communications Team

This Bi Visibility Day, we are proud to celebrate vibrant and powerful bisexual communities around the world. Lesbian, bisexual, and queer (LBQ) women and non-binary people* are not only creating change in all aspects of their own lives, but are also building a new political reality that is inclusive, respectful, and safe for all communities. Alongside lesbian, trans, and queer people, bisexual women and non-binary people are activists, movement leaders, and advocates for their communities. 

LGBTQI communities are beautiful and diverse. Treating a group of people who face vastly different experiences as a monolith is harmful for all members of the community. Bi Visibility Day is significant because it celebrates a group within the LGBTQI community that is often ignored. Bisexual people frequently experience homophobia, but they also face discrimination from their lesbian and gay peers. The notion that “bisexuality is not real” is common, and is regularly perpetuated by folks within and outside of the LGBTQI community. Bi Visibility Day is a necessary reminder that bisexual people are real, whole, complex human beings whose identities are deeply valid.

Acknowledging the unique realities of bisexual communities is important not only for combatting such discrimination, but also for providing tangible support to bisexual communities. The impacts of biphobia include discrimination in workplaces, housing, and healthcare. Celebrating Bi Visibility Day also means acknowledging these issues and working to support bisexual communities in their fight for justice.

Bisexual women and non-binary people, along with their lesbian and queer peers, face violence, discrimination, and exclusion everyday around the world. Earlier this year, Astraea released our report, Vibrant Yet Under-Resourced: The State of Lesbian, Bisexual, and Queer Movements. This report presents findings on the state of lesbian, bisexual, and queer (LBQ) movements around the world based on surveys conducted in 2018 with 378 LBQ groups from all regions of the world and 67 donors, including public and private foundations, as well as follow-up interviews resulting in four case studies of LBQ groups. Through our research, we found that:

  • LBQ groups are young and quickly growing in numbers. 
  • LBQ groups work in intersectional ways.
  • LBQ groups utilize multiple robust organizing strategies to achieve their aims.

LBQ groups are doing necessary, meaningful work to build powerful movements and create lasting change, but they lack the proper funding. Our research also found that:

  • LBQ groups have extremely small budgets and very little access to external funding. 25% of groups reported having a non-existent or zero annual budget, and 40% of LBQ groups reported having a budget of less than $5,000
  • LBQ groups receive insufficient support to fully implement their strategies. Fewer than one in four groups using advocacy, community and movement building, and capacity building — the three most common strategies — reported receiving sufficient funds for their planned activities.*

The lack of funding that LBQ groups receive speaks to the erasure of queer women and non-binary people from LGBTQI and women’s funding spaces. General LGBTQI and women’s funding often fail to reach LBQ women and non-binary people, who sit at the intersection of these identities. 

Bisexual women and non-binary people are on the frontlines, fighting back against the various oppressions they face. Bisexual communities around the world are working to dismantle systems of homophobia, transphobia, patriarchy, white supremacy, and capitalism, and it is our responsibility to fuel these grassroots movements. 

It is an unfortunate reality that data and research focusing specifically on bisexual women and non-binary people is rarely conducted and difficult to come by, despite these communities facing unique challenges. While our report includes useful findings and recommendations for funders looking to support LBQ movements generally, we have included some resources below that pertain more directly to understanding bisexual communities and their needs. 

* Astraea focuses on bisexual women and non-binary people rather than men because we recognize that these groups face disproportionate discrimination globally, including exclusion, violence, lack of legal protections, and lack of access to health care, education, and employment, along with lesbian, queer, and trans women and non-binary people.

* For our full list of key findings and donor recommendations, visit FundLBQ.org

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For trans communities, collective care is critical to safety and survival

In this blog post, we spoke to our Program Officers, Mariam, Lame, and Brenda to better understand some of the specific ways our trans grantees and their communities have been and continue to be affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic, social, and political fallouts.

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.

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A global pandemic was always going to have a disproportionate and devastating impact on trans communities around the world. As communities that already face systemic discrimination and violence, are often unable to access healthcare, housing, and economic opportunities, and whose human rights are either at grave risk or denied entirely in several countries, trans people have been marginalized time and time again. So, as the COVID-19 pandemic hit countries around the world in the Spring of 2020, it became clear that trans communities could feel some of the worst impacts of the crisis. In a United Nations statement in April 2020, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet said, “LGBTI people are among the most vulnerable and marginalised in many societies, and among those most at risk from COVID-19. In countries where same-sex relations are criminalised or trans people targeted, they might not even seek treatment for fear of arrest or being subjected to violence.”*

In this blog post, we spoke to our Program Officers, Mariam, Lame, and Brenda to better understand some of the specific ways our trans grantees and their communities have been and continue to be affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic, social, and political fallouts. We also share the innovative, creative, and care-driven ways our trans grantee partners and other grassroots LBTQI groups have been providing critical mutual aid to their people and bringing their communities together – despite not being able to be together physically.

Mariam remarked, “It is astounding to see the ways in which our trans grantees have immediately stepped up to care for their communities. But we have to acknowledge the immense burden on them – the pressure from funders to respond effectively to the situation, to respond to the needs in the community that are really overwhelming as we’re seeing from human rights documentation, to be accessible online to community members 24/7, and to continue their advocacy – all while experiencing the same challenges as everybody else.”

*Michelle Bachelet, COVID-19: Targeted actions needed to protect LGBTI people amid pandemic 

How trans grantees are caring for their people and creatively building community in the midst of this crisis:

  • Gender Dynamix (South Africa) have been working in partnership with a number of trans organizations from throughout the Southern African region to host a podcast shedding light on the realities of trans communities during this time. 
  • A grantee partner in Kenya has been supporting trans people without access to shelter, particularly trans refugees arriving from Uganda
  • Queerabad (India) have been providing mental health resources and support to their communities through their online platforms
  • Nazariya (India) created zoom hangouts for community members, to unpack the impact of COVID-19 on queer women and trans* folks, bringing to light the challenges of being forced to stay home with family members who do not support LGBTQI issues. 
  • Trans*Coalition (based in the Former Soviet Union countries) started a regional COVID-19 response campaign including a fundraiser, emergency response and critical analysis on the impacts of the pandemic
  • TransAkcija (Slovenia) created an online Pride Month celebration when physical celebrations were canceled and led anti-government protests against fascism and mismanagement of the pandemic
  • Zagreb Pride (Croatia) launched an online campaign against the government’s use of surveillance technology to track the movement of citizens, and succeeded in their efforts!
  • Caribe Afirmativo (Colombia) have been providing mutual aid to sex worker communities in Colombia and supporting them to find work
  • TransWave and WE-Change (Jamaica) formed a consortium with larger LGBTQ organization J-Flag to raise funds specifically for LGBTQI communities impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

How has COVID-19 along with restrictions on movements directly impacted trans communities?

Lack of access to healthcare: 

  • Trans people already have unequal access to healthcare facilities, putting them at greater risk if they contract the virus. For incarcerated trans people for whom social distancing is near impossible and access to PPE is limited at best, this risk is greatly increased
  • Many trans people going through hormonal therapy – whether utilizing formal or informal healthcare channels – have struggled to access it as a result of lockdowns and slowdowns in mail services etc.
  • Gender-affirming surgeries were/have been postponed indefinitely in many countries to prioritize patients with COVID-19
  • Mental health of trans communities has suffered during the pandemic for a number of reasons from fear of contracting the virus without adequate access to healthcare facilities, to dealing with violence and transphobia as a result of being forced to isolate in unsafe environments

Loss of livelihood:

  • Many trans people work in service industries around the world, which have been some of the hardest hit, and have lost their jobs as a result of ongoing economic crises
  • Trans sex workers have either been forced to drastically cut down on work or stop working altogether as a result of restrictions on movements, and to protect their own health and safety
  • In many parts of the world, trans people work in informal sectors or in part-time positions where they have to ‘hustle’ to get work and negotiate wages. This often means needing to be physically out in marketplaces and communities in order to secure that work and perform it, which has been difficult or impossible as a result of lockdowns  

Housing:

  • Many trans people have been forced to isolate in unsafe environments with family members or others who reject or denounce their identities, and are violent towards them as a result. 
  • As a result of loss of income and an inability to pay rents, many trans people have been evicted or forced to leave their homes

Discrimination and violence

  • Legislations restricting freedom of movement have given police and military forces in several countries the authority to exercise undue power and act with impunity in many cases. Trans people – and especially trans sex workers – who are already often subject to discrimination and violence by the state have been disproportionately targeted
  • Limited access to movement has made it harder for trans people to organize and practice dissent against harmful laws and policies. Coupled with the general public’s preoccupation with the pandemic itself, some governments have used this period as an opportunity to ‘quietly’ roll back rights for trans people or introduce new, regressive policies in the name of ‘health and safety.’
  • In some Latin American countries, governments enacted gender-binary policies to restrict the mobility of its citizens, meaning that men were allowed to leave their homes on certain days and women on others. The policing of these laws had a particularly brutal impact on trans people who faced misgendering, harassment, and violence from authorities.

Limited access to community

  • For so many trans communities, their ability to create and share space with each other is critical to their well-being and to building movements. Lockdowns and restrictions on movements have made these community-building efforts much more difficult.
  • Grassroots trans organizations and drop-in centers provide access to critical information and resources for members; without the ability to meet in person, trans people risk being misinformed or losing out on these resources.

We know that for trans people, this pandemic is only the continuation and exacerbation of years of oppression, violence, and exclusion. As Lame highlighted, it is not sustainable to expect trans communities and organizations to be able to continue this way. At present, they are fighting to support their communities through this pandemic, but that places them back into economies that were already excluding and neglecting them, and societies that discriminate against them based on their very identity and being. As funders, our responsibility is therefore to keep shifting resources into the hands of trans-led organizations, understand what their needs and priorities are, and build their power. Not just now, but always. Join Us.

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