Bi Visibility Day 2021: Dreaming beyond the binary

On Bi Visibility Day and everyday, we advocate for the visibility and inclusion of bi people within the LGBTQI+ community, and challenge traditional, binary conceptions of bisexuality.

Started in 1999 by Wendy Curry, Michael Page, and Gigi Raven Wilbur – three U.S. based bisexual activists – Bisexual Visibility Day is celebrated annually on September 23. Originally intended to visibilize the long neglected bisexual community, Bi Visibility Day provides an opportunity to reflect on the biphobia and erasure that bisexual folks tend to experience within both LGBTQI+ and heterosexual communities, and to celebrate the richness of bi communities.

Bisexuality has often been misunderstood! In a binary world that seeks to classify people within fixed categories, people who are attracted to more than one gender have found themselves without a community to call home. Historical definitions of bisexuality have been confined within the binaries of absolute heterosexuality and homosexuality, which has led to the false belief that bisexuality limits sexual and romantic attraction to only those who adhere to cisgender ‘male’ or ‘female’ gender identities. This perception of bisexuality is harmful because it erases so many in the bisexual community whose desire, love, and attraction falls outside rigid gender norms. 

Another misconception of bi people is that the way they express their sexuality is a ‘phase,’ rather than a recognition that their sexuality may be fluid and evolve over time, and that they may have relationships with people of several different genders over their lifetime. As a result, bisexual folks are often judged based on what their relationships outwardly appear to be, rather than who they are as a whole. Such degrading stereotypes have regularly forced bisexual folks to hide their sexuality, or to defend it to their queer counterparts in order to gain legitimacy within larger LGBTQI+ circles. Bisexual folks are often erased and/or alienated from LGBTQI+ communities, and made to feel as if they are not ‘queer enough.’ 

On Bi Visibility Day and everyday, we advocate for the visibility and inclusion of bi people within the LGBTQI+ community, and challenge traditional, binary conceptions of bisexuality. This day is also a self-reflective time for bisexual people to celebrate themselves, their communities, and their freedom to love and express their sexualities without limits. We must reach beyond the gender binary, envisioning a world in which we see desire, attraction, and gender itself as expansive and ever-fluid. Ultimately, this is what Bisexual Visibility Day is really about: ensuring bisexual communities flourish, and forever dreaming beyond the binary.

This Bi Visibility Day, we are honored to have collaborated with artist Ashley Lukashevsky to create the expansive illustration you see above titled ‘Bisexuality is Not a Binary!’ She is an illustrator and visual artist born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii. They create art that utilizes illustration and visual art as tools to strengthen social movements for racial justice, immigrant justice, climate justice, mental health and LGBTQIA+ liberation. As Ashley shared on an Instagram post during last year’s Bi Visibility Week,Whether your attraction to more than one gender is sexual or romantic, you are welcome in the bi community. Bi women are valid, bi men are valid, bi non-binary folks are valid, bi GNC cuties are valid— let’s end the gatekeeping of queerness once and for all.” She believes that in order to tear down harmful systems, we need to be able to envision a world without them. At Astraea, we are committed to supporting artists and their work, recognizing that art is an essential tool for social transformation.

Welcoming Joy Chia as Astraea’s New Executive Director!

We are delighted to announce that Joy Chia will join Astraea as our new Executive Director on September 20, 2021! Joy joins Astraea at a time when we are experiencing critical growth, investing in and upgrading our infrastructure to meet the growing needs of the organization and our movements, and strengthening our organizational culture to ensure our feminist, anti-racist, international values are being put into practice across all aspects of Astraea’s work.

We are delighted to announce that Joy Chia will join Astraea as our new Executive Director on September 20, 2021! When we relaunched our search process in February 2021, we sought a fierce feminist, intersectional, and radical leader. Joy embodies all of these qualities and more. She brings to Astraea an uncompromising commitment to advancing gender, racial, economic, and environmental justice and an expansive vision rooted in the politics of global solidarity. We are so proud and excited that she will be stewarding the Astraea team and leading the organization through its next chapter!

Joy joins Astraea at a time when we are experiencing critical growth, investing in and upgrading our infrastructure to meet the growing needs of the organization and our movements, and strengthening our organizational culture to ensure our feminist, anti-racist, international values are being put into practice across all aspects of Astraea’s work. As Astraea enters our 45th year in 2022 – and continues to work towards its mission of fueling local and global movements that shift power to LGBTQI people – Joy will lead the organization through a strategic planning process alongside the entire Astraea team, as well as our brilliant grantee partners, supporters, and allies. 

Joy’s commitment to social justice is rooted in her own life experiences, radical politics, and vision for the collective liberation of our movements. Joy joins Astraea from the Open Society Foundations (OSF), where she has most recently been the Women’s Rights Program’s Team Manager. She led the program’s work on the “Power of the Collective”, which prioritizes strengthening feminist activism, community mobilization and leadership, so that all women and gender non-conforming people have voice, power, and agency in all aspects of economic, social and political life. Previously Joy led OSF’s LGBTQI work in East Asia as a Program Officer, supporting groups working to advance human rights and equality for LGBTQI people across the region.

Getting to know Astraea Executive Director, Joy Chia: A Q&A

  • What excites you about joining Astraea as the next ED, especially at this time?

This is really an opportunity of a lifetime, and I am not quite sure it has really sunk in that I will be joining Astraea as the next Executive Director! I’m so privileged and humbled to be at Astraea’s helm at this moment of the organization’s evolution, and to work together with the Astraea community to chart out the next part of our journey. 

I’m very excited to learn deeply about Astraea as an organization—and the people that make up the community that stands with us. I’m excited for the difficult but productive work of putting our values and principles into practice—in both how we as Astraea work with and fund our community partners, but also how we engage with each other as human beings and advocates. What does it really mean to work at the intersections of gender, sexuality, disability, class, race and other aspects of our complex lives? How can we channel resources in ways that are context-appropriate, efficient, and accountable? 

I look forward to exploring these questions in the fellowship of others who share my values and aspirations, both within Astraea and also with other public and private foundations. I often call myself a donor organizer — I’ll like to see us organizing other funders to increase resources to LGBTQI organizations, to align resources in collaborative ways that reflect feminist values, and to broaden support for organizations in fields that are under-resourced and less visible. 

  • If you could have one superpower, what would it be?

If I could have any super-power, I would want the power of teleportation. I love being with people where they are comfortable and experiencing the world from where they sit—but I wish that I didn’t have to be on planes for so long to get to places and people I love! 

  • What do you love to do in your ‘downtime’? 

My wife and I have a young energetic daughter who keeps us on our toes—so I rarely feel as if I get downtime! It’s been fun (re)learning how to play. We spend a lot of time reading children’s books (one of our family favorites is “It’s okay to be different” by Todd Parr) and watching kid movies which actually have a lot of lessons for grown-ups. (See, Everything’s not awesome from Lego Movie, the 2nd Part). 

  • Can you share a favorite quote with us by someone who truly inspires you? 

“If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair.” Shirley Chisholm is unbossed and unbought, and a big inspiration to me in 2021. 

  • What do you believe is the role of LGBTQI feminist philanthropy?

It’s important that your question articulates our work as LGBTQI, feminist, and philanthropic, as I see all of these aspects shaping the possibilities and responsibilities of our work. To me, feminism is about power – who has it, who does not, who is making decisions and about what? As funders, we wield one of most important manifestations of power which, as Kimberle Crenshaw described, is “the power to categorize” and “the power to cause that categorization to have social and material consequences.” This comes with great responsibility – and I believe that global LGBTQI feminist philanthropy has transformative potential, and that this potential must be harnessed towards building and shifting power to advance the ability of all people to exercise their rights and freedoms.  

LGBTQI feminist philanthropy is a central pillar in the kind of infrastructure that is fundamental to support experienced, innovative, and well-resourced organizations, communities, networks, and activists to seize opportunities when they present themselves to create the worlds we want to see. We have a critical and transformational role not only in our global feminist and LGBTQI funding ecosystems, but also in cross-movement coalition-building towards the articulation of alternative feminist futures. 

Astraea is Taking a Breather!

Astraea is taking our annual mid-year organizational pause, and we’ll be recharging our batteries from July 2-9, 2021. This will also be a time for us to examine our own practices as we work to be an anti-racist organization and vision the Astraea we know is possible—one that is truly anti-racist, intersectional, feminist, queer, and international.

Astraea is taking our annual mid-year organizational pause, and we’ll be recharging our batteries from July 2-9, 2021. During this time, Astraea staff will not be working, and we will resume our regular hours on July 12, 2021.

This annual break uplifts our intention to create the spaciousness necessary for staff to meaningfully rest and prioritize our well-being. This is especially critical as we all continue to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic – which is particularly present for many of our team members and our grantee partners in the Global South and East – as well as the ongoing impacts of anti-Black racism, police brutality, and the delegitimization of trans people’s lives and experiences. 

Collective care, healing, mutual aid, joy, and rest are essential to the liberation of our people and our movements. The pause period is an opportunity for Astraea staff to take a true break and reflect on how we can step more into “being” as opposed to “doing.” This time allows us to step away from our desks and our screens, and prioritize and nourish ourselves and our loved ones for the long road ahead, because we are in it for the long haul, and we want rest, presence and joy to be woven into the fabric of our fight for collective liberation.

The pause is also a time for us to examine our own practices as we work to be an anti-racist organization and vision the Astraea we know is possible—one that is truly anti-racist, intersectional, feminist, queer, and international. As a queer feminist fund, we owe everything to Black, Indigenous, Women of Color, trans, non-binary, intersex, and Global South feminists who built the intersectional vision of liberation that is at the very core of our mission. Ultimately, we hope that this pause will enable us to show up at Astraea, in philanthropy, for our innovative and resilient grantee partners, and in our communities in even more powerful ways.

While we’re out, we encourage you to check out some of the content on our Collective Care Blog and Website, that you may have missed!

Wishing you all rest, rejuvenation, and resilience where possible.

Meet the Newest Astraeans!

We are delighted to introduce you to Astraea’s ten newest staff members! Each of our new staff members brings a burst of fresh energy to Astraea, adds critical capacity, and contributes their well-honed skills and experiences in philanthropy, grassroots movement building, gender justice, and organizational transformation.

Over the last year, we at Astraea have been working to expand our organizational infrastructure to meet our growing needs as an organization and continue to best serve our movements. This has meant everything from reorganizing our systems and structures, to ensuring our practices and policies always put our people and their wellbeing first! As one critical piece of this work, we have been expanding our teams to bring in even more brilliant LBTQI global, feminist expertise, as well as to ensure our staff members have the support, capacity, and spaciousness they need to keep fueling our movements and building their power!

Today, we’re delighted to introduce you to Astraea’s ten newest staff members! This includes our much-awaited new VP of Programs and longtime Astraea comrade, Rebecca Fox, who will officially start in her role on August 1st, and Astraea’s first-ever Director of People and Culture, Raven Maldonado. Each of our new staff members brings a burst of fresh energy to Astraea, adds critical capacity, and contributes their well-honed skills and experiences in philanthropy, grassroots movement building, gender justice, and organizational transformation. In July, we’ll also be sharing the highly anticipated news of who will be stewarding Astraea as our next permanent Executive Director, so stay tuned!

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Welcome:

Lariza Romero Fonseca (she/her) who joins our team from Mexico City, Mexico as Program Officer for Latin America and the Caribbean.

Rebecca Fox (she/her), our new VP, Programs based in Brooklyn, NY.

Senda Ben Jebara (she/her), based in Montreal, Canada and who is Astraea’s Program Officer for Europe, Central Asia, and Middle East/Southwest Asia.

Simone Jones (she/her), as an Administrative Assistant based in New York City.

Raven Maldonado (she/her), Astraea’s first-ever Director of People and Culture, and is based in New York City.

Elisabeth McCarren (she/her) who lives on Long Island, NY and joins us as an Administrative Assistant.

Kayla McMillen (she/they) who joins us as an Administrative Assistant in New York City.

Poppy Pruidze (they/them), our Grants Management Associate, based in Brooklyn, NY.

Kevin Romero (he/him), our Development Associate, Operations from Queens, NY.

Patrice Smith Sterling (she/her), Astraea’s new Senior Grants Manager based in the Bronx, NY.

Photo & Biographical details forthcoming

Astraea’s Principles for Pride: Reclaiming our Radical Roots!

Our Pride – true to its roots – is a rebellion and an uprising of actions towards queer and trans liberation. It seeks to transform, rather than to assimilate. Astraea’s vision for Pride is based in all we have learned from our global LGBTQI communities and movements over the past four decades. 

Our Pride – true to its roots – is a rebellion and an uprising of actions towards queer and trans liberation. It seeks to transform, rather than to assimilate. It looks towards Afro-futurism and queer and trans radical traditions that imagine liberation as a future where we all belong. Astraea’s vision for Pride is based in all we have learned from our global LGBTQI communities and movements over the past four decades. 

Our Pride…

1. Honors the visions of our queer ancestors and elders, and has roots in rebellion and uprisings led by Black and Brown LGBTQIA people. 

Led by Black and Latine queer and trans women like Marsha P. Johnson, Sylvia Rivera, Miss Major Griffin-Gracy, and so many others (who were organizing for queer liberation even prior to Stonewall), we are reminded that Pride began as a riot. Queer historian M.E. O’Brien writes, “The riots were initiated and led by the most marginalized of New York City’s working-class queers: homeless youth, Black and Puerto Rican trans women, sex workers, and visibly gender-nonconforming people. The riots catalyzed the most radical elements of the queer counterculture, previously rather marginal, and an explosive organizing energy spread across the country.” We adamantly believe that Pride must continue to be led by and for the communities who continue to be most impacted by discrimination, violence, gendered oppression, and injustice in all forms. 

2. Is truly intersectional, inspired by the visions of Black, Brown, migrant, Indigenous, sex worker, disability justice, and Global South LBTQI feminist movements.

Rooted in the radical imaginations of trans and intersex people, bisexual and queer women, and non-binary people, pan, and asexual people, our Pride simultaneously lifts up our movements’ accomplishments and wins, and shines a spotlight on the many political, social, and cultural struggles still ongoing around the world. A liberatory Pride recognizes that all our struggles are interconnected and that LGBTQIA people are at the helm of multiple social movements. Therefore, our Pride is necessarily pro-climate, pro-abolition, pro-sex worker, pro-labor justice, pro-Indigenous sovereignty, pro-labor rights, pro-disability justice, pro-internationalism, and pro-Palestine. It is also anti-police, anti-prisons, anti-militarist, anti-capitalist, anti-occupation, anti-imperialist, and anti-white supremacist. 

3. Celebrates Black and trans joy at the center of our fight for queer liberation, and uplifts care and healing justice as critical to our communities’ ability to survive and thrive. 

Our Pride celebrates and centers Black and trans lives. Collective care is the heart of all we do and support. We acknowledge the historical and disproportionate impacts of violence, discrimination, and intergenerational trauma on our communities, and seek reparation for these harms. Healing justice means recognizing the importance of the survival practices which center the collective safety, joy, laughter, celebration, and wellbeing of our communities, and ensuring that our Pride encompasses them. We have learned from our grantee partners how these practices and traditions can be tools for building power, and how they can deepen and sustain the long and hard work of movement-building.

4. Is fiercely abolitionist; it rejects the policing, surveillance, and criminalization of our communities and uplifts care and the wellbeing of our communities.

Following the lead of Black and trans-led abolitionist movements, the political vision of our Pride prioritizes eliminating systems that imprison, criminalize, surveil, and police our people and our bodies. Our Pride demands lasting alternatives, based on our communities’ safety and wellbeing, and prioritizes investing in public housing, employment, education, access to food and healthcare, and community resourcing for our people.

Pride began as a rebellion against the police. Therefore our Pride necessarily excludes the police, law enforcement, and the use of violent surveillance technologies at any actions and uprisings. As Roxane Gay writesFor decades, the police have tormented our communities. They enforced laws about how we dressed, where we congregated and whom we had sex with. They beat us, blackmailed us and put us in jail.” 

5. Condemns the dehumanization of LGBTQI people, the depoliticization of our causes, and the homogenization of our identities and struggles.

Resistance, action, and political urgency to bring justice for all our people is at the forefront of our Pride. Our Pride does not lose sight of the many struggles our people continue to face and resist: an ongoing global pandemic, police brutality and systemic racism, anti-immigrant laws and sentiments, threats to indigenous land and ways of living, the rise of authoritarianism globally, rollbacks of trans rights and access to healthcare, the closing of civil society, climate collapse, and more. Pride has always been political, and we will fight to keep it that way. 

6. Proclaims LGBTQI peoples’ bodily autonomy, self-determination, and diverse gender expressions and sexualities.

Bodily autonomy – the ability to make decisions about our bodies and how we choose to live in them with dignity and pride, and without judgment – is critical to our collective liberation. Disability justice, kink, fat liberation, and Black and trans bodies arecentered and visibilized. Pride must continue to make visible kink, queer erotic desire, and queer love; the very things that queer communities have for so long been criminalized and vilified for. 

Our Pride must therefore ensure that people can live genuinely, authentically, freely and joyfully in their identities, their bodies, and their sexualities. We actively protest the systemic erasure and discrimination of our people and their bodies, and protect trans people and LGBTQI people of colors’ right to accessing gender affirming care, HIV treatments, and reproductive and sexual health.

Pride is incomplete if it does not amplify a diverse spectrum of gender expressions. Here, we are reminded of Emi Koyama’s words in the Transfeminist Manifesto: “Transfeminism believes that we construct our own gender identities based on what feels genuine, comfortable and sincere to us as we live and relate to others within given social and cultural constraint….instead of justifying our existence through reverse essentialism, transfeminism dismantles the essentialist assumption of the normativity of the sex/gender congruence.” 

7. Rejects rainbow capitalism –  we will NOT allow our movements and ourselves to be co-opted, complicit, or silent. 

As a public foundation that works to re-allocate money and resources to redistribute power to our people and our movements, we take a stand within philanthropy against the problematics of corporate Pride and work to ensure that resources are re-invested in grassroots, LGBTQI actions and uprisings.

Many modern day Pride marches and celebrations have been taken over by cis, capitalist, white institutions whose primary goal is to seek profit from our identities and struggles. We resoundingly reject this rainbow capitalism, the pinkwashing of our movements, and the co-option of liberatory movements for capital gain. Instead, our vision for Pride works to shed the shackles of capitalism that would profit off our bodies, through a return to the grassroots. 

8. Uplifts Pride actions that are truly radical, political, and liberatory, and are committed to the sovereignty of the Indigenous people on whose land they take place.

The original Pride marches combined radical politics, kink, and celebration. They provided visibility to LGBTQI communities and were an opportunity for queer communities to voice their demands and spotlight the needs and struggles of queer communities. In the 1980s, the culture around Pride began to shift, with less radical activists moving to the forefront, and many Pride actions dropping words like “freedom” and “liberation” from their names. Today, many state-sponsored Pride marches draw millions of people around the world, but do not center those in LGBTQI communities most impacted by discrimination.

We stand by our communities in the belief that Pride must return to its roots as a protest, and a call to action for justice and joy for our people. We are so proud of the ways our communities have worked to reclaim Pride actions over the last several years, and to fight for Pride actions that are free from policing, violence, transphobia, and intersexphobia. Just a few examples of these truly liberatory Pride actions include: The Queer Liberation March, Dyke Marches, the March for Black Trans Lives, Zagreb Pride, and Soweto Pride.

9. Recognizes that the struggle for queer liberation is ongoing, we stand with our movements not just in June, but 365 days of the year.

Our grantee partners work day in and day out to realize liberation, collective care, and healing for their people. It is therefore our commitment to them that we will always act on our responsibility as a feminist philanthropic institution to amplify, resource, and support the LBTQI organizations, movements, and communities who are not always heard or visibilized during Pride month, or at all. 

Join us! Check out the work of our powerful grantee partners in our 2020 Annual Report, and on our Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram pages. As you are able to, we encourage you to consider becoming a monthly donor to Astraea, ensuring that our grantee partners around the world are supported and celebrated 365 days a year.

To Transform Policing, Philanthropy Must Support Efforts to Abolish It

If philanthropy wants to have a genuine impact on the fight for racial justice, we need to fund grassroots abolitionist movements and resource them well.

This article was originally published in The Chronicle of Philanthropy.
Image Credit: BILL CLARK, CQ-ROLL CALL, INC, GETTY IMAGES

Derek Chauvin’s guilty verdict last week in the murder of George Floyd brought momentary relief — and finally some accountability. Yet this is just the beginning of a long journey toward ending police brutality in the United States and bringing about true justice. For philanthropy, now is when the real work starts.

Foundations have rallied in support of racial justice this past year, but are we really any closer to understanding what it will take to dismantle systemic racism and white supremacy? Are we putting our dollars into the organizations that will get the work done and that are leading the charge against racial injustice in communities nationwide?

Either out of misunderstanding or ignorance, most foundation leaders remain uncomfortable with the ideas pushed by activists at the forefront of the racial-justice movement — specifically their calls to abolish modern-day policing and dismantle the prison industrial complex.

What exactly do we mean when we talk about abolition? In its organizer’s tool kit, the national grassroots group Critical Resistance defines abolition as “a political vision with the goal of eliminating imprisonment, policing, and surveillance and creating lasting alternatives to punishment and imprisonment.” Abolitionist activists such as Angela Davis note that the movement is not exclusively concerned with abolishing unjust systems but is about re-envisioning how we want to live in the future — about building anew.

Many people wonder why revamping policing isn’t enough, why we should abolish policing entirely. The human-rights lawyer Derecka Purnell put it this way in an op-ed for the Atlantic: “Policing is among the vestiges of slavery, tailored in America to suppress slave revolts, catch runaways, and repress labor organizing.”

Proof that the system doesn’t work is all around us. Since the start of Derek Chauvin’s trial on March 29, more than three people a day have died at the hands of law-enforcement officers. Duante Wright, Adam Toledo, and Ma’Khia Bryant are just three of them.

Over all, Black people are more than three and a half times as likely to be killed by police as white people are. Black Americans represent 33 percent of the country’s prison population, despite making up only 12 percent of the adult population. As a whole, Black, brown, Indigenous, migrant, and LGBTQI people are far more likely to be victims of police violence. For example, a 2019 report from the National Center for Transgender Equality found that more than 58 percent of trans people who interacted with law-enforcement officers in the previous year reported being harassed, abused, or otherwise mistreated by the police.

In a recent report, Technologies for Liberation: Toward Abolitionist Futures, my organization, the Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice, highlights the critical questions today’s abolitionist movement poses: What resources were not available to communities that led to relying on government for a sense of safety? What resources do communities need to build and sustain safe, healthy alternatives to policing that are based on individual well-being rather than violent punishment? What community-led solutions would eliminate the need for technological surveillance tools that criminalize people of color and LGBTQI individuals, including police body cameras, security cameras, and facial recognition tools?

If philanthropy wants to have a genuine impact on the fight for racial justice, we need to fund grassroots abolitionist movements and resource them well. These movements are building alternative solutions to policing and creating tools and technologies that shift responsibility for public safety away from government and into the hands of community organizations that understand what works. Their goal is not to remove safety and accountability mechanisms by abolishing the police and prison system but rather to ensure mechanisms are in place that address real need and build trust.

Need for Systemic Change

As foundations continue to support racial-justice work, they should ask themselves whether their funds will actually create the systemic change they are seeking. Are their grants going to groups challenging existing systems of criminalization rather than those simply calling for piecemeal improvements? Will their dollars help curtail the expansion of technological surveillance by law enforcement or reinforce narratives promoting the false notion that these tools protect communities?

Grant makers should take the time to examine the critical work abolitionist groups have done for years with little support. This includes organizations such as the Stop LAPD Spying Coalition, which led a successful, hard-fought campaign to eradicate Chronic Offender Bulletins used by the Los Angeles Police Department to track so-called persons of interest in low-income communities of color. The bulletins were part of an LAPD program that relied on algorithmic data to predict where crimes would occur and identify individuals most likely to commit a violent offense.

The coalition sued the LAPD to stop the practice. A resulting audit of the department’s predictive policing practices found that nearly half of those “chronic offenders” appeared to have zero history of violent crime. In August 2018, the department suspended its use of Chronic Offender Bulletins.

But the coalition’s goal wasn’t only to end a harmful policing practice — it was to redirect funds that had supported the predictive policing program into community efforts that “promote real public safety.” That includes investments in public housing, education, health centers, youth development, healthy food, and steady employment.

Another group, Solutions Not Punishment Collaborative, a Black trans-led nonprofit in Atlanta, similarly works to halt problematic policing practices and replace them with something better. The group observed that cameras with enhanced surveillance capability mounted on police vehicles led to more arrests of Black residents. In response, the nonprofit worked with the city to create a pre-arrest diversion program so that those who were frequently stopped by police could avoid arrest and detention and receive supportive services instead. Since the program began in 2017, 130 arrests have been diverted, according to program organizers and the city officials who worked with them and tracked the arrest data.

The collaborative also worked with Women on the Rise, a sister organization led by formerly incarcerated women, to close down the Atlanta City Detention Center. In line with the abolitionist vision of shifting resources away from criminalization and toward community solutions, the groups are currently working to repurpose the former jail into a community space.

Funding forward-looking work of this kind requires long-term investments that center the knowledge, vision, and expertise of movement organizers. Grant makers must ask these community leaders what they need — and then help them get there. That will require forgoing traditional funding approaches that segment resources into areas such as racial equity, criminal justice, or technology.

Instead, grant makers need to recognize that these issues are deeply interconnected and then find innovative ways to support abolitionist movements that are doing the long, hard work of reimagining and building a future that is safe and just for all.

Collective Care Means Resourcing Trans Futures!

This TDoV, we must challenge the societal constructs that have conditioned us to view trans people as unworthy of support and care. Building the  leadership and visibility of Black and other marginalized trans people is critical for creating transformative change. As feminist funders, we believe our role is to honor the visions of trans people and to invest in those visions over the long-term.

This Transgender Day of Visibility (TDoV), Astraea celebrates the power and resilience of trans movements worldwide, simultaneously recognizing the need to continue resourcing trans futures. Transgender activist and founder of Transgender Michigan, Rachel Crandall-Crocker started TDOV in 2009 as a complement to Trans Day of Rememberence (TDoR), an annual event memorializing those who have been murdered as a result of transphobia. She hoped to instead create an event that highlighted the unique and often understated achievements of the trans community. TDoV was created precisely because supporting and rejoicing in transness is so rare.

Here are just some examples of how our trans grantee partners have been building power for and prioritizing collective care for their communities: 

As funders, we must challenge the societal constructs that have conditioned us to view trans people as unworthy of support and care. Building the  leadership and visibility of Black and other marginalized trans people is critical for creating transformative change. As feminist funders, we believe our role is to honor the visions of trans people and to invest in those visions over the long-term. Our responsibility is to keep shifting resources into the hands of trans-led organizations, understand what their needs and priorities are, and build their collective power.

At Astraea, we are 1 of only 2 funders in the world giving more than 10% of our funding to trans-led groups. 

In 2020 alone, we shifted over $1.2 million to 50 TGNC-led groups. 

26% of our grants supported TGNC-led organizing and 100% of our TGNC-led funding in the U.S. was for groups led by and for people of color. 

Many trans people around the world face a grim decision regarding visibility in an era where modest gains for trans rights coexist globally with rising far-right reactionary backlash. This can be particularly difficult for newly-out and younger trans people or those just beginning to fully embrace the complexity of their identities, as they attempt to navigate the challenging and uncertain terrains of being visibly trans. We value every transgender and gender non-conforming person, so while visibility is to be celebrated (and especially so on TDOV), it is essential that it not be misconstrued as the only measure of authenticity.

As we continue to be impacted by this  global pandemic, we have witnessed how COVID-19 has continued to have a disproportionate and devastating impact on trans communities globally, especially on those who are more visible. 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. For trans folks, the isolation measures set in place around the world during the pandemic have made life difficult: everyday microaggressions and obstacles have been amplified, access to life-saving resources and necessary healthcare services are often cut short or unavailable, and physical support systems and networks are often out of reach.

All these barriers are exacerbated for trans people living at the intersections of race, class and ability. When people talk about Black Lives Matter, not all Black lives are necessarily valued equally. This is especially true when it comes to Black trans people, who are killed and incarcerated at disproportionate rates and are commonly erased within power structures and ecosystems across society, from the broader Black Lives Matter movement to entertainment media. In June 2020 – during a summer of uprisings against police brutality and systemic racism against Black people – a Black Trans Lives Matter rally was organized, led by, and centered Black trans women, honoring Dominique “Rem’Mie” Fells, 27, of Philadelphia, and Riah Milton, 25, of Cincinnati, Ohio who were brutally murdered. The march and rally gave trans and gender non-conforming people the opportunity to mourn lives lost, and to convey their resounding calls for justice, fair treatment and access to greater resourcing.

We are in a moment of global resistance and reckoning. Trans communities are pushing back against white supremacist, capitalist, and patriarchal systems, and demanding pivotal change that will ensure a safer future for us all. It’s well past time we trust trans people and honor Black trans leadership. Speak out and act against violence against trans people. Fall back and let trans people lead. Invest in trans-led organizations, campaigns, and ideas. Fund trans communities intersectionally, across issue areas, movements, and geographies. Amplify trans realities and narratives in nuanced and expansive ways. Against all odds, through times of crisis and times of joy, it is our collective responsibility to shift power and resources so that trans people thrive.

This Trans Day of Visibility (TDoV), we are also delighted to have collaborated with artist M (who creates under the name, Emulsify) to create the beautiful illustration you see below titled “Trans People Deserve to Bloom!” M is a brown genderqueer cultural worker and organizer. They create art that helps them heal, learn, advocate, and imagine new worlds. M is a trained abortion doula, founder of Emulsify Design, and creative director of Arrebato, a space for Queer Trans Black & Brown community. They believe all art is powerful and political. As Astraea, we are committed to supporting artists and their work, recognizing that art is an essential tool for social transformation.

Join us in welcoming the newest Astraeans!

We’re so excited to introduce you to our newest staff members who have joined Astraea over the last several months, helping to further our mission of shifting power and resources to LBTQI grassroots organizing around the world. 

We’re so excited to introduce you to our newest staff members who have joined Astraea over the last several months, helping to further our mission of shifting power and resources to LBTQI grassroots organizing around the world. They bring with them a wealth of experience and knowledge in their respective fields, fresh energy and perspectives, and share our deep commitment to advancing gender, racial, and economic justice around the world. We’re so excited to learn from our newest Astraeans, and to work together to keep building power for our movements! Join us in welcoming them and check-out their bios and photos below.

Additionally, we are thrilled to announce that Kerry-Jo Ford Lyn has been promoted to the newly created role of Astraea Deputy Executive Director. You will know Kerry-Jo from her previous role stewarding Astraea’s Global LGBTI Human Rights Initiative with USAID, Sida and Global Affairs Canada. A leader on staff since she joined in 2015, Kerry-Jo is a strategic systems thinker with impeccable skills in organizational management. She will play an essential role leading Astraea through this time of reinvention and reimagining.

In an interview for Astraea’s Collective Care Blog, we spoke to Kerry-Jo about exploring the power dynamics inherent in philanthropy and how we as a feminist funder must work to break those down in order to uplift and center the voices, work, and priorities of our LBTQI grantee partners. We also take an internal look at how we are threading trust building and anti-oppression work through the entire fabric of Astraea as an organization. Check out that interview here!

Welcome to our newest staff members!

      

Sonya Alvarez (she/her)

joins our Development team as Associate Director of Individual Giving at the Astraea Foundation. She joins Astraea with 20 years of non-profit development experience most notably with the ACLU. [Read more]

Daniel Andre (he/him)

joins our Fiscal team as Senior Accountant.

Douglas Black (he/him)

leads our Fiscal team as Vice President of Finance. Douglas comes with over 20 years of community based and International nonprofit leadership, particularly, internal controls, compliance and reporting. [Read more]

Hua Boonyapisomparn (she/her)

joins our Program team as Project Manager of Astraea’s Intersex and Trans Movement Building Project. She is an experienced transgender activist and has been involved in the establishment of several transgender organizations – locally, nationally in Thailand, and internationally. [Read more]

Britt Jenkins (she/her)

joins our Programs team as Senior Manager of Astraea’s Global Human Rights Initiative. She is a queer feminist, born and raised in the American South, with over 10 years of experience working to advance human rights. [Read more]

Mikail Khan (they/them)

joins our Communications team as Communications Associate. They are a transmasculine & non-binary Muslim media maker, writer & curator from Bangladesh who invests their care and energy into advocating for trans and gender-expansive youth and communities of color. [Read more]

Yeleen Lee (she/her)

joins our Program Team as Program Associate for Astraea’s U.S. Fund, with a background in organizing Asian immigrant communities in New York City for housing justice and language access. [Read more]

Johnnay Leenay (she/her)

joins our Development team as Development Associate, Partnerships. She is a biracial Black lesbian, proudly hailing from Minnesota. Before joining Astraea, she worked in Development at BRIC Arts and Media supporting the Membership team for BRIC Celebrate! Brooklyn and BRIC House. [Read more]

Deidra McBean (she/her)

joins our Fiscal team as Director, Reporting and Compliance.

Winnie Shen (she/her)

joins our Program Team as Program Associate for Astraea’s International Fund with a background in tenant organizing and experience working in New York State government. [Read more]


Inspired? Join our dynamic team by applying to one of the positions below!

Astraea honors the women leading us to our liberation!

Today on International Women’s Day, we celebrate the Black, Indigenous, POC, migrant, lesbian, bisexual, trans, interse and queer women who have and continue to work to free us all.

“I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own.” – Audre Lorde | Black feminist writer, member of the Combahee River Collective, and Astraea Sappho distinction awardee

Today on International Women’s Day, we celebrate the Black, Indigenous, POC, migrant, lesbian, bisexual, trans, intersex and queer women who have and continue to work to free us all. These are the women leading powerful, intersectional grassroots movements; imagining a world free from policing, surveillance, and criminalization; building a culture of collective care, solidarity, healing, and joy. These are the women leading us to our collective liberation.

In recognition of this day, the Astraea office is closed, giving our staff an opportunity to rest and reflect on theirs and so many others’ contributions to feminist movement building around the world, and celebrate how far we have come. Astraea was founded in 1977 – only three years after and intricately tied to the founding of the Combahee River Collective – by a cross-class, multi-racial group of women activists. Our original purpose was to fund a burgeoning national women’s movement that was inclusive of lesbians and women of color, and in doing so the organization became one of the first women’s foundations in the world. In 1990, we officially “came out” as a lesbian foundation. Today, we are the only multi-racial, multi-gender philanthropic organization working exclusively to advance LGBTQI rights around the globe, we are 1 of only 2 funders giving more than 10% of our funding to trans organizing, and we sit at the nexus of more than 40 years of feminist grantmaking and movement building.

“From the minute that we were founded, from the minute that people sat at a table together, before we even could imagine what we were going to be, the understanding was it had to be inclusive. The recognition of intersectionality before the word was even out there was a given for us,” shared Astraea founding mother Achebe Powell in a 2018 interview.

Our feminism is expansive, and is deeply rooted in and guided by the leadership of Black, Indigenous, People of Color, Global South, migrant, and trans and intersex-led movements. Our feminism is proudly radical, it is disruptive, it is intersectional, and it is inclusive of all who are fighting for a future free from injustice and full of joy.

Wishing you a happy International Women’s Day!

In Solidarity,
The Astraea team

P.S. Check out our video on grantee partner GALANG’s work advocating for queer women’s empowerment and inclusivity in the Philippines!

Championing Colombia’s LGBTI Movement: Read our Latest Report!

Astraea is excited to share our newest report, The LGBTI Movement’s Spiral Trajectory: From Peace Processes to Legal and Juridical Gains and Back Again, a case study of Colombia’s LGBTI movement.

Nos complace en compartir nuestro informe más reciente, La trayectoria en espiral del movimiento LGBTI: De los procesos de paz a los logros legales y judiciales, y de vuelta otra vez, sobre el movimiento LGBTI en Colombia.

English:

We’re excited to share our newest report, The LGBTI Movement’s Spiral Trajectory: From Peace Processes to Legal and Juridical Gains and Back Again, a case study of Colombia’s LGBTI movement.

Colombia’s peace processes have brought the diverse Colombian LGBTI population together on two occasions–during the peace process initiated by President Andrés Pastrana in 1999-2001 and during the peace process initiated in 2012 by President Manuel Santos. Through their participation, LGBTI activists have been able to guarantee representation via inclusive policies and programs, and have set a global precedent for including LGBTI people as a key sector of the population. Although the current political climate has seen an increase in right wing attacks on LGBTI human rights defenders and laws recognizing LGBTI rights, LGBTI human rights defenders continue to advocate for the needs of the LGBTI population.

The report offers a holistic overview of the movement’s priorities, progress, and challenges and provides a summary of LGBTI activists’ recommendations for researchers and international funders. 

Read the report

 

 

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Español:

Nos complace en compartir nuestro informe más reciente, La trayectoria en espiral del movimiento LGBTI: De los procesos de paz a los logros legales y judiciales, y de vuelta otra vez, sobre el movimiento LGBTI en Colombia.

El informe examina cómo los procesos de paz de Colombia han unificado a su diversa población LGBTI en dos ocasiones. Primero durante el proceso de paz iniciado por el presidente Andrés Pastrana en los años 1999-2001 y luego durante el más reciente iniciado por el presidente Manuel Santos en el 2012. Por medio de su participación, les activistas LGBTI han podido garantizar la representación a través de políticas inclusivas y programas, y han sentado un precedente mundial para incluir a las personas LGBTI como un sector clave de la población. Aunque bajo del clima político actual se ha visto un aumento de los ataques derechistas contra defensores de los derechos humanos LGBTI y leyes que reconocen estos mismos, les defensores de los derechos humanos LGBTI continúan abogando por las necesidades de la población LGBTI.

El informe ofrece una reflexión holística de los avances y desafíos del movimiento, señala las prioridades del movimiento, y ofrece un resumen de las recomendaciones de activistas LGBTI para investigadores y la cooperación internacional. 

Lea el informe

 

 


Virtual Report Launch Event / Presentación del informe:

February 25, 2021 at 5pm EST / hora Colombia

We are thrilled to invite you to join us on February 25, 2021 at 5pm EST for a webinar to launch our latest report, ‘The LGBTI Movement’s Spiral Trajectory: From Peace Processes to Legal and Juridical Gains and Back Again!’ The report offers a holistic overview of the Colombian LGBTI movement’s progress and challenges, outlines the movement’s priorities, and provides a summary of LGBTI activists’ recommendations for researchers and international funders.

The event, hosted by la Universidad de Los Andes, will be facilitated by Dr. José Fernando Serrano Amaya and will feature a panel of activists from Colombian LGBTI organizations to comment on the report. The event will be held in Spanish, with live English interpretation provided.

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Estamos encantades de invitarles a que nos acompañen el 25 de febrero de 2021 a las 5 p.m. EST a un seminario web donde lanzaremos nuestro último informe, ‘La trayectoria en espiral del movimiento LGBTI: De los procesos de paz a los logros legales y judiciales y de vuelta otra vez. El informe ofrece un resumen holístico del progreso y los desafíos del movimiento LGBTI colombiano y también un sumario de recomendaciones para investigadores y financiadores internacionales.

El evento, organizado por la Universidad de Los Andes, será facilitado por el Dr. José Fernando Serrano Amaya y contará con un panel de activistas de organizaciones LGBTI colombianas que comentarán sobre el informe. El evento se llevará a cabo en español, con interpretación en vivo en inglés.

Register for the report launch event here / Regístrese para la presentación del informe aquí