What is “anti-gender?”

The Astraea Foundation’s 2023 report, “Global Resistance to Anti-gender Opposition, LGBTQI+ Activism in Colombia, India, Kenya, Peru, and Serbia” provides an illuminating look into the activism in five countries, bringing to light how anti-gender governments and policies manifest in all parts of the world. 

After years of research and collaboration, Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice has published our latest report, “Global Resistance to Anti-gender Opposition, LGBTQI+ Activism in Colombia, India, Kenya, Peru, and Serbia.” The report provides an illuminating look into the activism in five countries, bringing to light how anti-gender governments and policies manifest in all parts of the world. 

What is “anti-gender?” Anti-gender is an umbrella term describing ideologies that work to revoke and prevent the rights of LGBTQI+ people and criminalize their lives. Anti-gender actors work to deny access to fundamental human rights and primarily target women, trans, nonbinary, and intersex people. 

“We dream of living in a world with social justice. We reach out to other movements and we see cis-heteropatriarchy replicated there. That is a shock. But it is still good that our horizon is to make that fair world a reality for all.” – Colombian activist

Our latest report gives a snapshot of what activists on the ground experience in their fight for liberation and their priorities for achieving that goal. The four main categories of needs identified are:

  1. Financial resources 
  2. An enabling environment 
  3. Additional skills, knowledge, and strategies 
  4. Strong movements and inter-movement solidarity

In addition to the full report, you can also read an executive summary and a one-page overview with highlights from each section, all on our website. Global Resistance to Anti-gender Movements” is a collaboration between LGBTQI+ activists in Colombia, India, Kenya, Peru, Serbia, and the United States through surveys, focus groups, and community scholarship. 

The report would not have been possible without the many researchers, writers, reviewers, and translators who collaborated with the Astraea Foundation. A special thank you to the activists who participated in this research through surveys, focus groups and interviews. This report would not exist without their devotion to the movement and social justice. We especially would like to thank Alejandra Sardá-Chandiramani and Hakima Abbas, two researchers with long histories of activism, for their collaboration and support in looking into the impact of the anti-gender opposition on LGBTQI+ activism globally.

 

Read or Download:

Full Report       |       Report Summary       |       Report Overview

Mother’s Day 2023: Honoring Our Legacy

We invited our co-chair, Susana Fried, to share some reflections on our founding mothers for this year’s Mother’s Day. Motherhood takes all shapes, from chosen family, to raising children, to starting impactful movements, motherhood is grounded in care, love, and freedom. 

This Mother’s Day, I would like to honor, respect, and celebrate The Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice’s 45-year history, our founding mothers, and all those who created, continue to nurture, and grow the Astraea Foundation of today.

Because of the foresight of a small group of spirited and determined women, we can support queer movements around the world with flexible, unrestricted funds. These women made clear their dedication to ensuring that women’s movements prioritize the needs of lesbians and women of color by declaring that “if it is going to exist, we will need to fund it ourselves.” This groundwork now enables us to support queer, feminist, anti-racist movements worldwide. Indeed, we are proud to be one of the first women’s funds in the world and the only one wholly devoted to advancing the rights of LGBTQI+ people globally. When we, as a community, consider the steps that come after this one, it is vital to be anchored in our history in order to plan for our future. Today, when we think about the next steps, we are thinking about the Astraea Foundation’s founding mothers.

This work is urgent – now more than ever. With anti-rights/anti-gender movements increasingly well-financed and globally networked, we’re seeing a proliferation of discriminatory laws, policies, and practices that normalize and advance criminalization and violence against LGBTQI+ communities and restrict reproductive rights and health. The growth of authoritarian, conservative forces especially target structurally excluded women, girls, trans, non-binary and gender non-conforming people, and reinforces the most restrictive and punitive structures of power and privilege. In this context, the Astraea Foundation’s work and the work of our grantee partners is critical.

Today, we especially remember Achebe (betty) Powell. Achebe was one of the spirited and determined women who, sitting around a kitchen table in 1977, brought the Astraea Foundation into being. We very recently lost Achebe to COVID-19, which serves as a harsh reminder that COVID-19 is still killing us – and that it is killing some communities more than others. Achebe was formidable: she was the first Black lesbian to serve on the board of directors of the National Gay Task Force and was co-chair of that board for several years. She attended the historic meeting of lesbian and gay leaders at the Carter White House in 1977. She was a highly sought-after trainer on diversity, inclusion, and anti-racism in the United States. And she was also “a pioneer in connecting United States work on intersectionality, inclusion, and diversity to transnational conversations on gender, race, class, and culture.” https://www.middlechurch.org/honoring-achebe-powell/

With her roots in the civil rights movement, Achebe was full of insight, love, critical awareness, and keen humor. She had a profound passion for nurturing vibrant, inclusive, queer, anti-racist feminist groups that operate with an intersectional perspective. For me, Achebe was not just a close friend but also an integral member of my chosen family. It is still difficult for me to imagine life without her, so whenever I think about her, I envision a bright new star emerging in the night sky. It is a privilege for me to serve as a co-chair, with Bookda Gheisar, on the Astraea Foundation’s board of directors, and I do it in her honor and loving memory.

Achebe was also fluent in French; I’ll pay tribute to her vision and commitment by closing with, “la lutte continue.”

In Solidarity,
Susana Fried, Board Co-Chair

Visibility Matters: International Lesbian Visibility Day 2023

Today on International Lesbian Visibility Day, The Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice celebrates its origin in lesbian-led organizing as well as the contributions from our lesbian and queer-led grantee partners. For Lesbian communities, visibility can come with risks. Whether on social media, while traveling, or even running errands, to be visibly queer is to be vulnerable. Despite this, there are people across the world who are not only visible, but have chosen to lead the charge toward equity and inclusion through organizing and empowering their local communities. Historically, visibility has been part of The Astraea Foundation’s ethos, coming out as a lesbian organization in 1991. This International Lesbian Visibility Day, The Astraea Foundation is uplifting grantee partners led by LBQ+ people fighting for civil protections in their communities.

*We recognize ‘lesbian’ as both a sexual orientation and political identity; that it must include trans, intersex, bisexual, and queer women who identify as such or feel connected to lesbian activism, while respecting that the full spectrum of people who experience gendered oppression includes trans men, non-binary people, and more.

  • Latin America – Grupo Latinoamericano de Estudio Formación y Acción Feminista (GLEFAS), founded in 2007, sparks dialogue and political action within the Latin American and Caribbean (LAC) lesbian feminist movement. GLEFAS supports the formation of collectives across the LAC region, as well as collects and preserves the history of indigenous and black lesbian activists from the global south. Their network is formed by activists, academics, and collectives from Mexico, Peru, Bolivia, Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, Colombia, and Spain.
  • Jamaica – We-Change Jamaica is a women’s-rights organization promoting gender equality & increased participation of LBQ+ women in social justice advocacy. We-Change Jamaica focuses on  sexual and reproductive health, reproductive justice, economic empowerment and holistic wellness. This includes hosting town hall events featuring presentations and discussions on the state of LBTQ and women’s rights in Jamaica.
  • Serbia – Rromnjako ilo improves the lives of women in Serbia by challenging sexual taboos, promoting diversity, and advocating against early forced marriages to young people. Additionally, the organization seeks to increase the visibility of LBTI Roma women in Europe and internationally.
  • Singapore – Sayoni is an intersectional queer feminist group working to build community and advocacy at local, regional and global levels. Sayoni organizes events, promotes research, and develops campaigns to support LBQ+ women in Singapore.
  • U.S. (Atlanta, Georgia) – Zami Nobla operates Biggers House, a communal living and gardening space whose goal is to provide permanent, accessible, and affordable housing to Bblack lesbian elders living on fixed income, ages 55 and up. Biggers House also includes community gardens for residents, Zami Nobla members, the LGBTQ community, and the Westlake neighborhood.

The Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice is proud to work with all our grantee partners in the fight against oppression. It’s through their work that LBQ+ people all over the world will see a decrease in the risks of broader visibility.

45 Years of Joy in Resistance: Our 2022 Annual Report is here!

Our 2022 Annual Report celebrates Astraea’s 45th anniversary! We center the joy, community, hope, and resistance of our collective movements’ past and present to look toward our future.

The Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice is thrilled to release our Annual Report for our 2022 fiscal year. Entitled 45 Years of Joy in Resistance, our 2022 Annual Report celebrates the Astraea Foundation’s 45th anniversary with stories of our grantee partners, photography from our archives, and showcases the impact of donations from supporters like you.

Over the last 45 years, Astraea’s staff and partners have witnessed ups and downs, celebrations and disagreements, and both joy and struggle. Many of these memories weren’t captured on film, but they’ve added up to help build resilient, intersectional movements in feminist philanthropy. Astraea continues to ground our philanthropy model on supporting grantees with unrestricted and flexible resources, which allow movements to build capacity and strengthen their resiliency when responding to community needs, especially as the rise of populist anti-gender movements continue to threaten LGBTQI+ lives around the world.

We are proud to share that in 2022:

  • Asraea disbursed more than $5.9 million in 2022 to 230 grantee partners through 263 grants
  • Over 86% of our grantees received general operating support grants, allowing for flexibility
  • 83% of our international grantmaking went to organizations in countries with obstructed, repressed, and closing civil societies

We hope you will enjoy learning more about our approach to this work in our annual report. Sincere gratitude to all of our supporters, donors, allies, and staff members, without whom this work would not be possible.

Download and read the report.

We are Resilient: Trans Day of Visibility 2023

Trans Day of Visibility is not just about celebrating our trans family and communities, but about acknowledging the continuous fight for equality, safety, security, and justice. Today and every day, Astraea is proud to amplify trans voices, and stand in solidarity with our trans communities.

Resilience. Resilience, like visibility, can be challenging and complicated. We so often find resilience out of necessity. We find resilience when we face a rise in dangerous rhetoric and policy as we are in this moment. Right now in the U.S. there are 435 anti-LGBTQI+ bills working their way through legislation–the majority of which specifically target trans communities. Globally, conservative government-sanctioned criminalization and discriminatory politics and practices normalize violence towards trans communities. In moments like these, visibility feels scarier and resilience is harder to summon.

But we also get to choose resilience. We are resilient when we center care and softness, and when we build bridges and solidarity. As always, our grantees are creating change through grassroots movements and building a new political reality that is inclusive, respectful, and safe for all community members. They are doing groundbreaking work in increasingly hostile environments. As we celebrate this year’s Trans Day of Visibility, we are holding multiple truths and finding resilience in community.

Today, we are honored to share the resilient, caring, intentional work of some of our trans-led grantee partners:

  • West Africa Trans Forum (West Africa-Cameroon): West African Trans Forum (WATF) is a network of transgender people and groups led by trans, intersex and non-conforming folks. Their mission is to address violence, stigma and discrimination against trans people in West Africa and Cameroon through regional advocacy and awareness raising, ensure trans-specific healthcare and HIV care and treatment through sensitization of healthcare workers and key state and non-state actors, and to improve the capacity of individuals and organizations through capacity and movement strengthening initiatives. This year, to mark TDoV, they are hosting a webinar entitled Inclusion and visibility of Trans* people in West Africa; how far have we come?
  • MUDE – Movimiento de Mujeres Unidas, Diversas y Empoderadas (Colombia): MUDE organizes a community of cis and trans women and their children. Through their program TRANSformanfo realidades [TRANS-forming realities], they have designed a safe space for the exchange of trans experiences and tools for the enforceability of rights. In recent months they launched their first Afrofeminist and Antiracist School as well as healing circles for all women.
  • The Foundation of Transgender Alliance for Human Rights (Thailand): Thai Transgender Alliance, or Thai TGA, supports transgender and gender diverse people in Thailand to have a better quality of life and works to advance the human rights of transgender people through policy advocacy, research, public education, network building and media advocacy strategies. In the past five years, they have led a national effort to secure legal gender recognition for trans people in Thailand. Recently they underwent a consultative process with trans, non-binary and intersex people in Thailand in order to advocate for the introduction of the Gender Recognition Bill. They have prepared a draft bill as well as a policy brief from the consultations.
  • inTRANSitive (Little Rock, Arkansas, U.S.): inTRANSitive’s mission is to improve the lives of Trans Arkansans through education, organizing and celebrating their resilience. They are the only Trans migrant-led organization in the state. Their work focuses on anti-violence, immigration, and community building. Their anti-violence work focuses on providing education to direct service organizations on how to serve Trans survivors and helps to hold these organizations accountable as they implement anti-violence practices. They also provide support to Trans survivors escaping violent situations and host community events to incorporate education around healthy relationships.
  • TransWave Jamaica (Jamaica): TransWave Jamaica is led by trans people working to advance the health, welfare and well-being of the transgender and gender non-conforming community in Jamaica and in the Caribbean. Founded in 2015, Transwave Jamaica started as an advocacy initiative in the form of a blog. Their mission has developed to promote change which results in the social inclusivity, recognition of rights, and legal protection of the transgender and gender non-conforming community. In February 2023, they hosted a trans health and wellness symposium. Recent publications include the Human Rights Violation Report and the Case for Gender Recognition Legislation in Jamaica.

Today and every day, Astraea is proud to support and celebrate trans-led organizations, trans activists, trans communities, and trans resilience.

This Trans Day of Visibility (TDoV), we are proud to have collaborated with artist, Acacia Rodriguez, to create this brilliant illustration. Acacia can be found at IG: @BBKashe & AcaciaRodriguez.com

Honoring Black Communities, Grantees, and Thought Leaders

As February ends and we wrap up Black History Month, we want to take a moment to honor and uplift Black leadership and Black communities across the U.S. and around the world. We also want to acknowledge that one month is never enough and is not representative of the profound impact that Black organizing has on our collective liberation. 

Astraea was founded on the principles of intersectionality. Today, Black LGBTQI+ movements continue to organize under dangerous and violent conditions but continue to fight structural barriers. We are honored to be grounded in our imperative to identify and resource radical movement leaders pursuing freedom and equality.  

As an institution, we remain committed to our anti-racist journey. It is our commitment to center Black leadership not only in our grantmaking but in how we operate internally and how we advocate in philanthropic spaces. 

This month we celebrated the work of six incredible grantees and activists. Check out some highlights below and follow the links to learn more about our grantee partners leading this incredible work. 

This is, of course, only a small sample of leaders on whose shoulders we stand. 

  • Achebe PowellWe are deeply saddened to share that one of our founding mothers, Achebe Powell, passed away this month. Achebe was a Black, lesbian, feminist, social justice activist, educator, and friend. Achebe was among the small group of multi-racial, multi-class, feminist activists who came together in 1977 to create a new way of bringing resources to movements led by lesbians and women of color, to, in her words, “generate the justice that our communities need, right here, right now.”
  • ZAMI NOBLA (National Organization of Lesbians on Aging) is a Black-led and founded organization, deeply rooted in Atlanta, Georgia. Their programming and campaigns highlight the unique intersections of being Black, elder, and disabled. 
  • House of Tulip is one of our many incredible grantee partners doing vital community-building work. They provide zero-barrier housing, case management, linkage to care, and community programming to trans and gender non-conforming people in need of a safe place to stay while growing the supply of affordable housing in New Orleans. Beyond this, members of HoT staff also created the TGNC Peoples COVID Crisis Fund of Louisiana to help trans and gender non-conforming people in Louisiana pay for food, medication and housing during the pandemic.
  • Baltimore Save Haven (BSH) is a Black trans, former sex worker, and LGBTQ- led organization that focuses on supporting the trans community, specifically those who are low-income and poor, engage in sex work, substance use, and currently face housing insecurity. They believe that every trans, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and queer (TLGBQ) person should be able to live healthy, self-determined, and self-sufficient lives free from stigma, violence, and oppression. They achieve this by providing compassionate harm reduction and upward mobility services, advocacy, and community engagement that is respectful, non-judgmental, and affirms and honors individual power and agency. 

Black history is very much a part of our present. Which is why we are honored to be partnered with these incredible Black-led organizations who are continuously leading in our shared pursuit of justice and equality. Each of these grantees continues to create a lasting impact on our movement spaces and communities. We hope that you will join us in recognizing and supporting their work.

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

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

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.