We Exist in Multitudes: Uplifting Intersex Movements in 2022

Every year on Intersex Awareness Day (October 26th), Astraea Foundation takes time to celebrate our grantee partners from around the world. At Astraea, we know that intersex people have no borders and exist in multitudes, but these vast experiences often go unrecognized or underrecognized. 

Image Credit: Aude Nasr / @ahlan.my.darlings

 

Every year on Intersex Awareness Day (October 26th), Astraea Foundation takes time to celebrate our grantee partners from around the world. At Astraea, we know that intersex people have no borders and exist in multitudes, but these vast experiences often go unrecognized or underrecognized. 

2022 marks the 8th annual cycle of Astraea’s grantmaking with the Intersex Human Rights Fund (IHRF). This year, we are celebrating the diverse beauty within intersex movements and the progress they have made in securing justice, while also reflecting on serious challenges intersex people experienced in many regions. 

Through the IHRF, Astraea responds to significant gaps in philanthropic funding for intersex movements by resourcing activism, building the capacity, raising visibility, and driving resources to intersex groups.

The IHRF’s eighth round of grantmaking totaled $522,000 in grants in 2022. Since IHRF seeks proposals from intersex activists who have never applied for a grant or received foundation funding before, it allows us to expand our reach to more and more corners of the world where the potential for intersex activism has yet to be tapped and connected to a global movement. IHRF now supports intersex movements in a quarter of the world’s countries, as the funding went to 56 groups, including 11 new and 45 renewals in 47 countries. During this funding cycle, we expanded our reach to Tunisia, the Dominican Republic and Indonesia, for the first time.

We have seen great strides and challenges from our grantee partners, leading campaigns to challenge social norms, change policy, and actualize inclusion, for example: 

  • Intersex Persons Society of Kenya (Nairobi, Kenya) began in 2016 to provide support, create awareness and gather data to establish the identifiable presence of intersex persons in Kenya. They succeeded in having the “intersex” category included in the national census in August 2019. And this year, Kenya became the first African country to require intersex children to be treated with dignity and have equal access to essential services like medical treatment and education.
  • IntersexualesChile (Chile) was founded in 2016 with the main goal to support intersex people, as well as supporting families in making decisions regarding health, life, and well-being. IntersexualesChile believes that corrective and aesthetic surgeries only end up hurting a person physically, psychologically and socially. In addition to directly helping families, the organization works to ensure that Chile complies with legal stipulations that genital surgery cannot be performed on intersex babies. 
  • Intersex Greece (Cyclades, Greece) is an inclusive, national organization for intersex people living in Greece, no matter their nationality, economic status or any other diversity. They aim to create awareness and inclusion for intersex people and advocate for legal protections. We at IHRF are celebrating a major win in 2022 as the country banned cosmetic (non-medically necessary) genital surgeries on intersex children. 
  • Damino (Tunisia) began in September 2021 amid challenges and discrimination against intersex individuals. It is difficult to be an intersex person in Tunisia and to connect with other intersex individuals, so the group became a safe space for intersex activists. They are considered to be a pioneer in their field, as they are the first group that focuses primarily on intersex rights in Tunisia. They are working to stop the violations and crimes against intersex babies through enacting new laws. 

Please join us in celebrating all our incredible 2022 Intersex Human Rights Fund (IHRF) grantee partners building towards more inclusive and just futures for intersex people, and for us all!

This Intersex Awareness Day, we are excited to have collaborated with Aude Nasr, a French-Lebanese freelance illustrator and photographer currently based in Marseille, France. To learn more about Aude and her work, please visit her website and Instagram.

 

2022 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.

African Intersex Movement 

Regional 

Argentina Intersex 

Argentina

Associação Brasileira de Intersexos (ABRAI) 

Brazil 

Asociación Peruana de Personas Intersexuales 

Peru

Bilitis Resource Center Bulgaria  

Bulgaria

Brújula Intersexual  

México

Campaign for Change 

Nepal

Círculo Violeta 

Puerto Rico

Collectif Intersexe Activiste – OII France (CIA-OII France) 

France

Comunidad De Lesbianas Inclusivas Dominicanas (COLESDOM) 

Dominican Republic

Damino 

Tunisia

Differences of Sex Development Support Uganda 

Uganda

Egalite Intersex Ukraine

Ukraine                               

Fundacja Interakcja  

Poland

Groupe Intersexe Désirs / Inter-Désirs

Democratic Republic of the Congo

iCon UK

United Kingdom

InterAction – Association Suisse pour les Intersexes 

Switzerland

Intersex Advocate Trust Zimbabwe 

Zimbabwe

Intersex Asia Network 

Regional / Taiwan

Intersex Canada 

Canada

Intersex Community of Zimbabwe 

Zimbabwe

Intersex Denmark

Denmark

Intersex Greece 

Greece

Intersex Human Rights Australia 

Australia 

Intersex Ísland – félag intersex fólks á Íslandi 

Iceland

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 Trust Aotearoa New Zealand (ITANZ)  

New Zealand

Intersex Turkey

Turkey

Intersex-Nigeria 

Nigeria

Intersexesiste 

 Italy

Intersexioni  

Italy

IntersexualesChile

Chile

Intrepida Foundation

United States

IVIM OII Germany

Germany

Ivy Foundation

Malawi

Key Watch Ghana 

Ghana

kolekTIRV 

Croatia

Mulabi

Costa Rica

Organization Intersex International-Chinese (Oii-Chinese)

Taiwan

Organization Intersex International Europe (OII Europe) 

Regional / Germany

OII Sverige 

Sweden

Potencia intersex 

Argentina

Rede Jacob – Apoio a Familia e Pessoa Intersexo

Brazil

Roma Women of Vojvodina 

Serbia

Support Initiative for People with atypical sex Development (SIPD)  

Uganda

Tanzania Voice of Humanity 

Tanzania

Trans Smart Trust 

Zimbabwe

Verein Intersexuelle Menschen Österreich (VIMÖ)  

Austria

Vivir y Ser Intersex

México

XY Spectrum 

Serbia

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In solidarity,
Rebecca Fox
Vice President of Programs

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

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

Dear Friends,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until we meet again,
Kerry-Jo Ford Lyn

Deputy Executive Director

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Critical Moment to Fund Nepal’s Flourishing LGBTQI+ Movements

A new report, commissioned by Astraea, takes a snapshot of life in 2021-2022 for LGBTQI Nepalis, our first since 2015. Among its findings, the report demonstrates that despite securing basic constitutional rights on paper, LGBTQI Nepalis have yet to attain meaningful recognition, protection, and equity in everyday life. 

Over the last decade, human rights groups and the international media have celebrated Nepal as a unicorn in South Asia for its protection of LGBTQI social and political rights. The multilingual and multiethnic country, which is landlocked between India and China, was the first in the region to end legal discrimination and recognize “third gender” rights in Pant v. Nepal in 2007. Four years later, the country of nearly 30 million people made headlines again when it became the first to include a “third gender” category in its national census. 

Movements and community-based organizations helped to drive many of Nepal’s legal changes in the early 2000s. Now, a new report, commissioned by Astraea, takes a snapshot of life in 2021-2022 for LGBTQI Nepalis, our first since 2015. Among its findings, the report demonstrates that despite securing basic constitutional rights on paper, LGBTQI Nepalis have yet to attain meaningful recognition, protection, and equity in everyday life. 

Members of the LGBTQI community still face discrimination and lack access to basic services, such as healthcare, education, and employment. Many reported experiencing various forms of stigma, discrimination and marginalization, which is only exacerbated by their class, caste, religious or indigenous identity. 

Access to government services further weakened during the COVID-19 pandemic and emerging legislative activity threatens activists’ ability to speak freely, especially for a younger generation of queer organizers who are frequently mobilizing online. Despite the current challenges, the report documents how Nepalese movements are pushing to actualize the hard-earned legal rights in the everyday life of queer people–and why it is a critical moment to support the country’s flourishing movements.  

Our new report provides a community-centered overview of how funders can use a variety of strategies, such as long-term partnerships, general operating support, and capacity strengthening to instill lasting change for LGBTQI Nepalis who continue to face structural barriers. Key recommendations include:

  • Funders should seek to allocate resources to organizations or intermediaries who understand the intricacies of local movements and can effectively push resources to groups who face structural barriers due to oppression.

  • International funders and allies should support the expansion of a legal framework that moves beyond the “other” category and is more inclusive. While the “third gender” census count was necessary to access government services, its limited definition led to an undercount of the LGBTQI population.

  • Funders should align with diverse strategies, including funding community support programs, legal advocacy, and research which addresses sector-specific issues (e.g., housing, employment, online safety) for LGBTQI+ communities. 

Nepal has been celebrated around the world for its progress, but it is time to address the gaps between its policies and reality. Any meaningful progress in the country must reflect the lived experiences of diverse identities within the larger LGBTQI movement.

Read The Report

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. 

June 2022 Reflection: “This is the fight for ALL of our lives”

At Astraea, we affirm that any person who wants to have an abortion should be able to, and not have to explain themselves. We refuse to lean into the darkness of despair. We proclaim our power to choose – to choose to live in our truths, to choose what we do with our bodies, to choose when and whether we want to be parents, to choose pleasure and liberation.

June is Pride Month for many of us and marks a time of joy, celebration, and gratitude at Astraea Foundation for the activists who came before us that fought for our collective liberation.  

Yet, I am also carrying a profound sense of loss and anger about the world we find ourselves in. We continue to see the erosion of fundamental human rights in every region of the world. Today,, the United States Supreme Court stripped away national abortion rights, opening the door to the dismantling of hard earned rights gained over the course of five decades by social justice movements. 

It is OK to be angry. I sure am. I am angry that the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision is yet another example of how governments seek to control our bodies and regulate what we are able to do. I know that regressive views on abortion access cannot be separated from attacks on trans kids’ bodily autonomy, the criminalization of LGBTQI-affirming care, and the relentless efforts to erase our history, memories, and our very existence. 

I am angry at the hypocrisy of invoking individual “choice” around vaccines, gun control, and the exercise of religion, while ignoring the daily violence faced by those of us who are not cis, white, straight, or male, especially as our rights are stripped away. I am angry that some leaders are using an alleged concern for children’s wellbeing to manufacture moral panic. I am angry at the cynical decisions being made over whose lives are essential, whose lives matter, and what is worth protecting. 

There has been a roadmap for decades that seeks to promote conservative and patriarchal agendas, especially related to abortion and LGBTQI rights around the world. American Christian Right groups have spent over $280 million dollars on five continents to fuel anti-gender campaigns against feminist and queer communities. Through this decision, they are telling us exactly what they are going to do. The goal is to control us, to hide us, to ban us, and to even obscure our humanity. 

There is a way forward: we can’t let them. We have to keep imagining and creating a better world.  

In our darkest moments, of which there are many, there have been multi-gendered and multi-racial groups of people fighting for something more. Building power requires a long-term investment in collaborative movements with the energy to make transformative change. 

I look for inspiration in places like Poland, Chile, and Colombia, where organizers are shifting the legal and cultural landscape for the better in their countries. Two years after women-led protests successfully moved Chile away from its dictator-era Constitution, Chile has legalized same-sex marriage and could soon become the first country in the world to give constitutional status to abortion rights. 

In Poland, LGBTQI people continue to organize in defiance of social and governmental hostility while building broad coalitions with feminists, farmers, union workers and others to reject rising authoritarianism. In the past four months alone, abortion has been decriminalized in Colombia, while LGBTQ representation in Colombia’s Congress has tripled. 

At Astraea, we affirm that any person who wants to have an abortion should be able to, and not have to explain themselves. We refuse to lean into the darkness of despair. We proclaim our power to choose – to choose to live in our truths, to choose what we do with our bodies, to choose when and whether we want to be parents, to choose pleasure and liberation. 

This is a fight for ALL of our lives. 

In Solidarity,
Joy Chia
Executive Director

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!