Trans Day of Visibility 2020

Astraea celebrates the efforts, victories, and lives of trans people across the globe this Trans Day of Visibility.

Astraea celebrates the efforts, victories, and lives of trans people across the globe. Trans activists and communities are:

  • fighting violence, criminalization, and discrimination
  • establishing crucial support in healthcare, social services, and education
  • pushing for legal gender recognition
  • building community around the world

However, trans organizing is severely under-resourced.

  • Trans organizing worldwide receives only 3.5% of LGBTI funding.
  • 56% of trans groups operate on an annual budget less than USD $10k.
  • 40% of trans groups have NO external funding.

Astraea is 1 of 2 funders in the world giving more than 10% of funding to trans groups. Supporting and resourcing trans organizing is critical to the lives and well-being of trans people everywhere.

Join us in supporting trans people in the U.S. and all over the world!

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Standing in Community During COVID-19

An update from Astraea’s Interim Executive Director as the globe fights the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dear Astraea community,

We hope this message finds you healthy and safe.

As the world moves further into these unsettling times and we seek to understand the full impact of the coronavirus on our lives, I want to send out a message of support from all of us here at Astraea.

Astraea stands in deep solidarity with all our communities and our movements. Some of our grantee partners have been dealing with the devastating effects since December 2019 and many in the Global North are just catching up to these terrifying realities. We particularly want to acknowledge those most impacted by the virus and the global public health crisis: the immuno-compromised, the displaced, the elderly, and all of those rendered vulnerable by intersecting oppressions, structural and historic exclusion from systems of care.

Like many other organizations, we have taken the decision to close our office in New York for now to protect the health and safety of our staff and do our part in flattening the curve. Our staff are working remotely, with many now juggling children at home and caring for loved ones of all ages. We have emphasized that self-care, community care, and everyone’s wellbeing is our main priority right now and that our queer feminist values must guide each step we take in response to this new moment. 

Astraea is deeply committed to supporting LGBTQI communities to heal, build, collaborate, and grow through supporting healing-based work that responds to systemic trauma. We also know that during moments of crisis, human rights and civil liberties are often the first to be eroded. This time is unfortunately no different. Migrants, sex workers, artists, folks working in gig economies, and those precariously employed are facing deportation, job loss, and unequal access to medical care. Black and People of Color communities who have been economically disadvantaged due to White Supremacy and the effects of capitalism have far fewer savings to lean on in times of crisis and will experience the brunt of the harm. Xenophobia and discrimination are already hurting Asian communities worldwide. Additionally, surveillance of vulnerable communities and abuses of state power in the name of ‘health and safety’ are increasing. Mutual aid, holistic security and digital rights are critical as we fight to ensure all communities have access to the information and resources they need. 

Now more than ever, we must support and build with our grantee partners across the globe who are on the frontlines of caring for their people and resisting roll-backs on human rights. We are reaching out to them to better understand their needs and how we can support them. As always, we recognize the criticality of providing unrestricted, long-term support to our movements so they can respond nimbly to changing conditions such as these. We urge all funders to do the same, and indeed, to deepen their funding support to respond to this crisis as it continues to unfold.

As we adjust to these current realities and understand what they mean for our work in human rights and social justice philanthropy, I want to share a few resources with you below that I have found helpful over the last several days. We’ll be updating this list as we gather more resources so please do take a look. 

Wishing you health, safety, and gentleness during this challenging time.

In solidarity,

Sandy Nathan, on behalf of Astraea staff and board
Interim Executive Director

Resources:

Call for new Advisory Board – Intersex Human Rights Fund

The Intersex Human Rights Fund at the Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice is recruiting passionate and committed intersex activists from all regions to join its Advisory Board!

The Intersex Human Rights Fund at the Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice is recruiting passionate and committed intersex activists from all regions to join its Advisory Board!

We know there are increasingly more intersex activists who are doing excellent work and can contribute to the Intersex Human Rights Fund’s mission. We expect that when someone signs on as an advisor, they will meet the expectations and responsibilities highlighted above to ensure the Intersex Fund’s Advisory Board is serving the intersex grantee partners and the intersex movements to the best of their ability and capacity. 

About Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice

The Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice is the only philanthropic organization working exclusively to advance LGBTQI human rights around the globe. We support grantee partners in the U.S. and internationally who challenge oppression and seed social change. We work for racial, economic, social, and gender justice, because we all deserve to live our lives freely, without fear, and with dignity.

About the Intersex Human Rights Fund

The first of its kind, the Intersex Human Rights Fund supports organizations, projects and campaigns led by intersex activists working to ensure the human rights, bodily autonomy, physical integrity and self-determination of intersex people worldwide. Launched in 2015, the Intersex Fund honors the resilience, creativity and growth of intersex activism and addresses the significant lack of funding for intersex issues by resourcing intersex-led activism, building the capacity of intersex groups, raising visibility, and driving resources to the intersex movement.

Astraea is proud to do this work in partnership with intersex activists and committed donor allies. We appreciate the generous support of seed donors Kobi Conaway and Andrew Owen, a leadership gift from the Arcus Foundation, and support from the Martina Fund and an anonymous donor.

Purpose of the Advisory Board

The Intersex Fund Advisory Board provides expertise and guidance to Astraea’s Intersex Human Rights Fund. 

In 2015, the Advisory Board was set up with the following members:

  1. Mauro Cabral (Argentina), Senior Advisor
  2. Morgan Carpenter (Australia)
  3. Hiker Chiu (Taiwan)
  4. Dan Christian Ghattas (Germany)
  5. Natasha Jimenez (Costa Rica)
  6. Nthabiseng Mokoena (South Africa)
  7. Sean Saifa Wall (US)

Board Membership

  1. The Intersex Fund’s Advisory Board members (“Advisors”)  should support Astraea’s mission and values and recognize the value of the Fund towards the human rights of intersex people.
  2. The Board should be intersex-led and comprised of intersex people.
  3. The Advisory Board should not exceed 7 members from the 6 regions of the world (Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America & Caribbean, North America and the Pacific), and should ensure diversity in terms of:
    • Expertise: in different areas related to the human rights of intersex people (legal, health and social justice)
    • Experience in areas such as grantmaking, monitoring and evaluation, communications, capacity-building, resource mobilization and movement-building
    • Knowledge about regional needs of intersex people
    • Gender and sexual identities, and 
    • Age

Membership on the board is in a volunteer capacity. 

Selection Procedure

  1. Advisors are chosen by the Astraea’s Director of Programs, in consultation with the Fund’s Program Officer and other Program Team members. 
  2. A call for nominations for candidates will be sent out every two years.
  3. Advisors can serve more than one term.
  4. Selection will be assessed on a number of criteria:
    • Candidates must be/have
      • Intersex
      • Available on average 3 – 7 hours a month for two years
      • Two or more years demonstrated commitment to advancing intersex people’s rights and intersex movement building
      • Two or more years demonstrated thematic or regional expertise with intersex people’s organizations / projects / initiatives working for intersex people’s rights, including time in a leadership role at a local, national, regional or global level
      • Functional spoken and written English language skills, with Spanish, Russian, Mandarin, French or Arabic desirable
      • Skills in areas such as movement building, monitoring and evaluation, capacity-building, facilitation and research.
    • Experience in any of the following will be further considered when selecting:
      • Fundraising experience, such as applying for or receiving grants from a donor or organizing fundraising activities
      • Grantmaking, international development (experience in grantmaking or monitoring and evaluation, and learning for intersex small or community-based groups highly desirable)
      • Communications experience (communication campaigns, writing blogs and op-eds, etc.).

Length of Membership Term

  1. All members of the Advisory Board will typically serve a two year renewable term of office and are invited to serve by Astraea’s Director of Programs in consultation with members of the Program Team and existing members of the Advisory Board. 
  2. The Senior Advisor will act as Chair of the Board and will be appointed in a similar manner. 
  3. Each advisor can resign from the Advisory Board by informing the Program Officer (Intersex Fund) by email.
  4. Astraea reserves the right to terminate an advisor’s mandate if:
    • The advisor does not participate, and/or
    • They do not reflect the mission and values of Astraea and the Intersex Fund.

Frequency of Meetings

  1. The Advisory Board shall meet physically or virtually via video call at least three times per year, typically September, January and May or as needed and agreed upon by all members and other participating stakeholders. The Senior Advisor chairs those meetings.
  2. If any member is unable to attend, they must inform the Program Officer.

Responsibilities

  1. The responsibilities of the Advisory Board will be limited to recommending advice, expertise and recommendations to the Intersex Fund. The final decision on whether or not to act on the recommendations will rest with the Director of Programs / Intersex Fund Program Officer.
  2. The Advisory Board provides the Director of Programs and Program Officer with advice and support in the following two core areas: 
    1. Strategic Direction and Relevance of Fund
      • Advise on the overall strategy and direction of the Fund, particularly in terms of priorities for research, grantmaking, and engagement in general. This may also include advising with respect to external image, identity and positioning of the Fund.
      • Help establish and develop the Fund’s position, where appropriate and practical, within areas of practice that advisors have experience.
      • Inform important decisions and directions for the Fund through meaningful discussions.
      • Other questions of strategy and direction that might arise.
    1. External Representation 
      • Represent and promote the Intersex Human Rights Fund, internationally, regionally and nationally by communicating key strategic messages, creating awareness for existing and new program initiatives, and showcasing the Fund’s achievements.
      • Help the Intersex Fund achieve its vision by building new philanthropic partnerships and relationships.
      • When requested by Astraea, act as a spokesperson on behalf of the Fund.

Compensation

  1. Advisory Board members shall receive a nominal honorarium of US$400 per year, in recognition of their contributions.

Contact details

Ruth Baldacchino
Senior Program Officer
Intersex Human Rights Fund 
rbaldacchino@astraeafoundation.org

How to apply:

Please review the requirements and criteria above, and if you are interested, submit a completed Intersex Human Rights Fund advisory board application form via the link below by no later than 6th March 2020.

Once we have reviewed your application, you will hear from us. 

Apply

Meet our grantee partner, Colectivo No Tengo Miedo

An interview with Colectivo No Tengo Miedo’s former General Coordinator, Malú Machuca Rose.

Colectivo No Tengo Miedo is an LGBTIQ collective in Lima with the mission of promoting social justice, liberation and equal access to resources for the LGBTQI community. It is composed of a multidisciplinary team composed of artists, youth, activists and academic researchers.

In the video above, NTM’s former General Coordinator, Malú Machuca Rose, shares more about the organization’s work, including its emphasis on the arts.

Learn more about Colectivo No Tengo Miedo.

***

Video transcript:

The reason we chose “No tengo miedo”, which means “I am not afraid”, is because it is so easy to understand that sentiment, because even a lot of cis-gender, heterosexual people are like “oh! You know, I’m not afraid either”, and you’re like “Oh, well cool, well sometimes our community is.” And it starts a conversation that comes from a place of empathy, because we can all relate to having been scared at some point of being ourselves.

Whenever I’m alone, I do feel very scared, especially if I am somewhere that I don’t really know. I think that’s why trying to put resources out there so people know who to call, what to do, where they can go to say, “Hey, this happened to me”. When we launched our website, we actually did a series of videos, and we set up a couple of things of how it was to be LGBTIQ in Lima, and then we asked people, “What is it like for you?” And that got people talking, got people to know the project. We also had a research group that was taking all these stories. We put them together in a book. We wrote some recommendations for public policy. It’s called “State Of Violence”. And we presented it to the people that were running for mayor of Lima, and it became a way to push the candidates and say, “Hey, LGBTIQ voters are a big part of the people that you know, you should be talking to as well.” 

A lot of the research work that we’ve done, and a lot of the political advocacy work that we have done, would not be able to reach the places that it did, and that it has, and continues to do without the arts. We started doing documentary theatre with LGBTIQ people and we invite The Ministry of Women, The Ministry of Health, of Work, of Education, and people running for congress to the theatre. So you’re sitting down, the lights are off, the doors are closed, where are you gonna go? And I think about after the hour and a half that the play lasted. When they left the room, they were, [lets out a sigh], like, you know, because you’re not going through the cognitive, the rational, where they know how to say no. They’re going through the emotional space. 

One of the things that really worked was that the plays were touching on things that were so common to everyone. They were like, “When we went to school”, you know, or “Our first love,” or “The first time we had sex”— all these experiences everyone had, but were not the same for LGBTQI people. And I think going through these more emotional routes of change, got them to say, “You know what, I’ve been really touched, can we talk?” And you’re like, “Yes, of course!” And it allowed us to speak to each other from a place of empathy.

And if we’re talking about, like these are our lives, like, we deserve to live, we deserve to go to school, we deserve these things that are very basic. People are like “Yes, yes you do”. And they understand. And it really was, like a change of how we do things, because we had these people sitting down listening to us tell our stories, in our language, through the arts, and we had been heard first, before they were even given the ability to talk, they had to see us, hear us. And that was just so powerful.

A lot of the times we use the same strategies in activism: we protest, we present. We do, like the formal, the rational. But when we change it up, even just a little bit, it can bring a whole new energy to what we’re doing. 

Getting funded by Astraea, we have felt very free to spend the money that we have and the resources that we have according to our priorities, and counting on the fact that we are in solidarity with each other. Having queer people, women from the same spaces that you’re from, that can understand why you need to do this work, why these are the priorities. I don’t think I’ve worked with an organization before that took my opinion and my experience as such an important part of how they organized their work and their resources, and that’s very important to me. You create the work that you want to see in the world, and I think that’s what Astraea did and that’s what we’re doing now, and that makes me very happy. 

With Deep Gratitude: Jan Zobel (1947 – 2018)

Jan Zobel – who passed away in September 2018 – was an Astraea community member and committed donor-activist for over 30 years. We are thankful for the time, energy, and love she gave to the Bay Area lesbian community, and for pushing the boundaries of philanthropy through her work, advocacy, and donor education.

With Deep Gratitude: Jan Zobel (1947 – 2018)

At Astraea, we believe community is everything, especially for LGBTQI organizers and movements. Jan Zobel—who passed away in September 2018—was an Astraea community member and committed donor-activist for over 30 years.

Jan was self-employed as a tax consultant and financial advisor to small businesses, particularly those owned by LGBTQ, women, and minority business owners. She received national recognition for her expertise in her field, and in 2005 she published the book Minding Her Own Business, geared specifically toward self-employed women and independent contractors. 

Deeply steeped in the LGBTQ community of the Bay Area, Jan became involved with Astraea after a local lesbian organization she had been supporting started cutting back on their services. “As [it] started doing less, and Astraea started doing more—particularly on the West Coast—I started giving more,” Jan said in an Astraea newsletter profile in 2003. 

As part of Astraea’s ‘Women Will’ circle, Jan encouraged others who could, to donate to Astraea. She also hosted and attended all of Astraea’s California based events, donor conferences and educationals, bringing together those with wealth as well as others who gave significant percentages of their income away. Jan’s generosity extended to the inclusion of Astraea in her will.

Jan was committed to increasing funding for the LGBTQ community at large. She joined the 100 Lesbians and Our Friends, a lesbian philanthropic community initiative started by Astraea donor Diane Sabin and Andrea Gelespy. She donated to and was associated with Horizons Foundation, a non profit in San Francisco for LGBTQ people. She also expressed the value of philanthropy to her clients, and through her business offered a 5% discount to clients who donated at least 5% of their income or time.

“If we don’t do it for ourselves, no one else is going to do it for us,”* a philosophy Jan Zobel (1947 – 2018), Astraea donor and friend over 30 years embodied.

We are incredibly grateful for Jan’s extremely generous bequest to Astraea, and her unwavering belief in the movements we support. We are thankful for the time, energy, and love she gave to the Bay Area lesbian community, and for pushing the boundaries of philanthropy through her work, advocacy, and donor education. 

Build a legacy and help sustain our movements for the long-haul. By making a planned gift to Astraea, you too can commit to fueling the next generation of LBTQI and feminist activists. 

Learn more about planned giving at www.astraeafoundation.org/join-us/give-a-gift

*This quote may be inspired by the words of Aboriginal artist and activist, Lilla Watson.

Celebrating Community

A thank you from Astraea’s staff to our community of grantee partners, donors, supporters, and more.

We want to take a moment to celebrate the power of community—we’re so grateful you’re part of ours! 

Thank you to our powerful grantee partners working towards our collective liberation all over the world.

Thank you to our incredible donors and supporters, who help us fuel bold, brilliant LGBTQI feminist movements.

Thank you to our founding mothers, who paved the way for Astraea to become what it is today.

Every day we are learning so much from our Astraea network, and applying what we learn to our own activism, and we are deeply grateful. 

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Trans Day of Remembrance 2019

This Trans Day of Remembrance, we honor and mourn the lives that have been lost to the ongoing epidemic of violence against trans people, and we also recognize the resilience of those trans folks who carry the weight of those we’ve lost to violence and systemic oppression on their shoulders today, and yet who still continue to fight for a world in which trans people live freely, without fear, and with profound dignity.

This Trans Day of Remembrance, we honor and mourn the lives that have been lost to the ongoing epidemic of violence against trans people. Over the past year, we lost at least 331 trans people to acts of violence worldwide, according to Transgender Europe. Violence against trans people is a global epidemic that we cannot afford to ignore. 

Over the past two decades, trans activists across the globe have made extraordinary gains toward trans justice. Trans activists have been fighting to challenge discrimination and stigma, advocate for progressive gender recognition laws, implement community-led healthcare programs, combat criminalization, and develop laws and policies that prohibit transphobic violence. With increased visibility, however, have come increased reports of violence against trans people.

We acknowledge that trans women of color are particularly vulnerable to transmisogyny and violence, and that trans sex workers are even more vulnerable to that violence. The statistics on violence against trans sex workers are startling: in recent years, 62% of murdered trans people whose occupation is known were sex workers.

We also recognize that trans organizers face a lack of institutional support. Our society is constantly failing trans people, and philanthropy is no different. In our recent report on The State of Trans Funding, created in collaboration with the Global Philanthropy Project, American Jewish World Service, and GATE, we found that trans organizations accounted for only 2.7% of all global funding in 2015-16.

In the face of so much violence, we also recognize the resilience of those trans folks who carry the weight of those we’ve lost to violence and systemic oppression on their shoulders today, and yet who still continue to fight for a world in which trans people live freely, without fear, and with profound dignity.

Sources: TGEU TdOR update; TGEU Trans and gender-diverse people, migration and sex work report; The State of Trans Funding report


Articles and Resources

National Reports and Research 

Articles 

Resources

Trans Issues Globally

Vigils and Events 

In NYC

United States

International 

Twitter Chats

Announcing our 5th Intersex Human Rights Fund grantees!

On Intersex Awareness Day, we recognize the bold and inspiring leadership of intersex activists, communities, and organizations who fight day in and day out to protect the basic human rights, bodily autonomy, physical integrity, and self-determination of intersex people everywhere. In this fifth grant cycle, we awarded $290,000 in grants to 38 groups in 31 countries.

On Intersex Awareness Day, we recognize the bold and inspiring leadership of intersex activists, communities, and organizations who fight day in and day out to protect the basic human rights, bodily autonomy, physical integrity, and self-determination of intersex people everywhere. Astraea is proud to support many of these activists through our Intersex Human Rights Fund—the first of its kind—which accounts for almost three-quarters (73%) of all grants to intersex organizations in the world.

In this fifth grant cycle, we awarded $290,000 in grants to 38 groups in 31 countries. 31 of those grants were renewals to groups we are committed to supporting over the long-term, while 7 were new grants to organizations we are delighted to build partnerships with! This year several proposals came from more under-represented regions in terms of intersex funding—Africa, Asia, and Eastern Europe—demonstrating the growth of grassroots intersex human rights movement-building around the world.

We are excited to see new groups forming all over the world, many as a result of the connections built through incredible activist-led regional movement convenings. Earlier this year, the first African Intersex regional platform—known as the African Intersex Movement—was officially announced during an Africa Intersex Meeting led entirely by intersex activists, with support from Astraea.

Intersex activists are continuing to advocate against the pathologization of intersex bodies and to address issues of violence, social exclusion, and lack of access to quality health care and education. The global intersex movement is calling for protections from human rights violations experienced by intersex children, adolescents and adults across the world.

Some ways in which our grantee partners are leading the charge towards advancing intersex justice are by:

    • Building the leadership of intersex people of color: The Intersex Justice Project (IJP) (Georgia, US), a new grantee partner this year, was formed in 2016 in response to a visible lack of intersex people of color in leadership in the US. In 2017, they launched their #EndIntersexSurgery campaign, protesting the Chicago Lurie Children’s Hospital’s discriminatory and harmful medical practices against intersex children. IJP is dedicated to fighting for the rights of intersex people of color in the U.S., and building alliances with intersex people of color nationally and globally.
    • Creating safe spaces which are inclusive of non-urban intersex communities and indigenous traditions: Based in Tamil Nadu, India, Srishti Madurai’s main mission is to build safe, supportive spaces for gender/sex minorities and their loved ones. Based outside of a major city, Srishti Madurai is committed to bridging the gap between urban and non-urban LGBTQIA+ movements, and ensuring that they are not restricted only to upper-class English speaking members. They also incorporate indigenous Indian traditions in their work, noting that pre-colonial era India was more open to gender and sex minorities. In 2019, Srishti’s founder Gopi Shankar’s work and activism informed a landmark legal victory in which the Madras High Court in Tamil Nadu recognized the marriage rights of trans and intersex women and directed the state to pass a government order banning sex-selective surgeries.
    • Centering intersectionality as a core strategy for fighting oppression: XY Spectrum (Belgrade, Serbia) was founded by trans and intersex activists and is the first organization in Serbia working on intersex rights. They challenge multiple forms of discrimination and work across all gender identities and sexual orientations. XY’s core focus is strengthening trans, intersex, and nonbinary people’s capacities to overcome fear, isolation and trauma through support groups, psycho-social counseling, and establishing better legal, administrative and institutional policies for intersex and trans people in Serbia.

We’re so honored to be supporting these amazing activists! Join us in celebrating their work and read more about it and the work of this global movement, in the links below.


Intersex 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.

Association of Russian Speaking Intersex people (ARSI)
Russia

Bilitis Resource Center Bulgaria
Bulgaria

Brújula Intersexual
Mexico

Collectif Intersexes et Allié-e-s (CIA)
France

Campaign for Change
Nepal

DeGenderation Confederation
Vietnam

Egalite Intersex Ukraine
Ukraine

Interaction – Association Suisse pour les Intersexes
Switzerland

Intersex and Faith
United States

Intersex Asia Network
Regional

Intersex Community of Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe

Intersex Danmark
Denmark

Intersex Human Rights Australia
Australia

Intersex Island
Iceland

Intersex Justice Project
United States

Intersex Peer Support Australia (IPSA)
Australia

Intersex Society of Zambia (ISSZ)
Zambia

Intersex South Africa – ISSA
South Africa

Intersex Trust Aotearoa New Zealand (ITANZ)
New Zealand

IntersexUK
United Kingdom

Ivy Foundation
Malawi

Magda Rakita
Poland

Mulabi – Espacio Latinoamericano de Sexualidades y Derechos
Costa Rica

Organisation Intersex International Europe (OII Europe)
Germany

Organisation Intersex International Germany (OII Deutschland)
Germany

Organization Intersex International-Chinese (Oii-Chinese)
Taiwan

Rainbow Identity Association
Botswana

Srishti Madurai LGBTQIA+ Student Volunteer Collective
India

Support Initiative for People with atypical sex Development  (SIPD)
Uganda

Trans Aid
Croatia

Trans Smart Trust
Zimbabwe

Tzk’at – Red de Sanadoras Ancestrales del Feminismo Comunitario
Guatemala

Verein Intersexuelle Menschen Österreich (VIMÖ)
Austria

Vivir y Ser Intersex
Mexico

XY Spectrum
Serbia

By supporting Astraea, you are creating ecosystems of resistance that are smart, effective, and unique. Join us!

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Announcing Our 2019 Acey Awardees!

Astraea owes its existence and vision to the incredible, bold legacy and work of the lesbian, queer, and trans elders who paved the way for us. Today, we are delighted to uplift that legacy by announcing the awardees of the 2nd Acey Social Justice Feminist Award. 

Astraea owes its existence and vision to the incredible, bold legacy and work of the lesbian, queer, and trans elders who paved the way for us. Today, we are delighted to uplift that legacy by announcing the awardees of the 2nd Acey Social Justice Feminist Award

The Acey Social Justice Feminist Award was launched in 2017 as a way for Astraea to honor the lesbian, queer, and trans elders over the age of 62 whose activism and contributions to their communities paved the way for way for new generations of organizers working across the U.S. and without whom we would not be here today. 

Please join us in congratulating this year’s four awardees: Julia Bennett, Brenda Joyce Crawford, Miss Major Griffin-Gracy, and Norma Timbang. 

Julia Bennett is a healer based in Brooklyn, New York who has provided critical healing support to marginalized People of Color communities in New York City for over 30 years. Brenda Joyce Crawford is an unapologetic butch woman who has been in the thick of social justice work for over five decades; today she lives in Vallejo, California and her activism is based around cannabis justice for seniors. Miss Major Griffin-Gracy is a veteran of the historic “Stonewall Rebellion” and a survivor of Attica State Prison, a former sex worker, an elder, and a community leader and human rights activist. Norma Timbang is a lifelong queer activist whose work is well-known across the Pacific Northwest, where she is from. She has been deeply involved in domestic violence and intimate partner violence work, feminist anti-violence work, and disability justice movements. 

The Acey Award recognizes lesbian and trans women of color over the age of 62 who have made under-recognized contributions to our movements, and often have unmet financial needs as they age. The Award was created in honor of Astraea’s Executive Director Emerita, Katherine Acey, who led Astraea for 23 years and is herself a fierce advocate for queer, lesbian, and trans elders, particularly those who are less visible than others.

“This award is an opportunity for us to say to these incredible activist elders: We see you. We love you. We deeply appreciate what you’ve done and what you continue to do,” Acey said.

Join us in celebrating the powerful, lifelong activism of our awardees!

In Solidarity,

Namita Chad
Associate Director of Programs

Meet the 2019 Acey Awardees

Julia Bennett

Julia Bennett is a Board certified licensed acupuncturist trained in both Chinese and Japanese acupuncture. Her long standing passion is community health and the health concerns of women, women who have tested positive for HIV and AIDS, maternity, infant, and reproductive justice for all bodies. [Read more]

Brenda Joyce Crawford

Brenda Joyce Crawford has been in the thick of social justice work for over five decades. She’s an unapologetic butch woman who comes from a blue collar working class background in the U.S. South. [Read more]

Miss Major Griffin-Gracy

Miss Major is a veteran of the historic “Stonewall Rebellion” and a survivor of Attica State Prison, a former sex worker, an elder, and a community leader and human rights activist. [Read more]

Norma Timbang

Norma Timbang provides private consulting and facilitation toward transformative and transitional processes for human and health services, policy advocacy, grassroots, academic, community, and social justice organizations. [Read more]

A conversation with Katherine Acey and Namita Chad

A conversation on the Acey Social Justice Feminist Award with Astraea’s very own Katherine Acey, Executive Director Emeritus, and Namita Chad, Associate Director of Programs.

A conversation on the Acey Social Justice Feminist Award with Astraea’s very own Katherine Acey, Executive Director Emeritus, and Namita Chad, Associate Director of Programs

Namita Chad (NC): Katherine, to start with, can you tell us what the Acey Social Justice Feminist Award is?

Katherine Acey (KA): The Acey Social Justice Feminist Award was launched in 2017 and honors lesbian, queer and trans women of color in the United States who are at least 62 years, and who have made significant contributions to our movements, which have often gone unrecognized.

NC: And how did the award come to be?

KA: So Astraea had been looking for a way to support the LGBTQ elders in communities across the United States who face distinct financial barriers, and we decided on this award as a way to uplift the contributions of some of those individuals, and raise awareness about their struggles. 

We wanted to recognize that so many of them have been activists within and across our movements, but have not always been as visible as others. Several have worked as activists throughout their lives, often in low-paying jobs with not a lot of benefits. So the idea was to identify those people, and also to make a monetary award in recognition of their contribution that could be used in any way; they could buy a new computer with it or take a vacation, or whatever. It was really to give them an opportunity to take care of themselves for a moment.

So the award is really a way to amplify these individuals and recognize the pathways they have created for others who have come after them. Something I’ve really been struck by both times we’ve had the award, is that there are always a couple of nominees I haven’t heard of myself. It just reaffirms the fact that so many activists are out there tirelessly, but their work isn’t seen.

KA: Namita, as someone who has been at Astraea for a long time and knows the movements well, what do you think is the importance of this award?

NC: For me, the award is so important because it recognizes the work and legacy of our lesbian, queer, and trans elders, who have really paved the way for new generations of organizers and activists working across the country.

It’s also really connected to what Astraea was born to do, which is to recognize the leadership of lesbian and trans women of color, who have been leaders in all kinds of movements over generations – feminist and queer movements, responses to the AIDS crisis, fighting to end wars abroad, fighting to end intimate partner violence, domestic violence, state violence, incarceration. These are people who have been insisting on radical inclusion for a long time now, and creating radical openings for people whose voices have not been heard.

I really hope that with this award comes more visibility for the brilliant and bold leadership of these elders. And I hope that with that visibility, that younger activists will gain more access to their stories and experiences and can engage with and learn from them.

KA: And what do you feel is the political significance of the award?

NC: You know this award really highlights the political state we’re in today where LGBTQ elders but specifically lesbian, queer, and trans women of color elders are still so often disproportionately discriminated against – whether in terms of access to healthcare, housing, or support networks – and face lifelong barriers to financial security and resources. LGBTQ elders of color remain largely invisible within frameworks of most aging services, research, and public policy initiatives, and across organizations across the country, even LGBTQ and feminist organizations.

It’s a scary political moment in the US and globally, as we’re watching the right consolidate power. We’re seeing so many of the hard fought gains of the past from rights to services being dismantled and fought against. There’s so much we can learn from the contexts and struggles of the past, so the need for younger activists to be connected to elders and for there to be intergenerational strategy and dialogue, is so critical.

NC: Katherine, finally, what kind of impact do you think this award might have on the awardees?

You know, in the early days of Astraea, when our grants were very small, they didn’t necessarily sustain an organization. But the fact that a group of peers recognized that organization and its people, was affirming and helped keep them going.

So I would like to think these individuals would feel similarly. I hope it affirms and says, “We see you. We love you. We deeply appreciate what you’ve done and what you continue to do.”