Global Surveys of Intersex & Trans Groups Show Funding Gap

Monday November 20, 2017

American Jewish World Service (AJWS), Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice (Astraea) and Global Action for Trans Equality (GATE) released the findings of their global surveys of intersex and trans organizations in 107 countries engaged in advocacy, services and education in two new reports, "The State of Intersex Organizing" and "The State of Trans Organizing."

More than 450 groups working on trans issues and more than 50 groups working on intersex issues participated in the surveys. The surveys looked at the financial and organizational capacity of intersex and trans units around the world, which provide critical support and services to their respective communities, including legal aid, health care, advocacy and leadership training.

The reports conclude that, despite increased awareness and media coverage of both intersex and trans people and issues, intersex and trans groups are deeply under-resourced and continue to be neglected by international funders. Global funding for broad LGBTI groups has grown exponentially in recent years, but just 6% of trans groups and almost no intersex groups receive funding from donor governments.

Foundations are the primary source of external funding for these groups, but the need far outweighs the current level of support, with more than three-fifths of trans groups and almost half of intersex groups not receiving funding. Of those who applied and did not receive funding, more than half of intersex groups and more than a third of trans groups were told by funders that funding for their issues was not a priority.

As a result, more than half of trans groups and more than three-quarters of intersex groups globally had 2016 budgets of less than US $10,000. Only just over 1 in 5 trans groups and 1 in 10 intersex groups had 2016 budgets over US $50,000.

"The hundreds of trans and intersex groups we surveyed are sending a strong message to funders about their needs," said Mauro Cabral Grinspan, Executive Director of GATE. "In all corners of the world, trans and intersex groups face tremendous challenges, including discrimination and violence, and desperately need additional resources from governments and foundations to continue -- and expand -- their vital work."

The longstanding underfunding of intersex and trans groups is reflected in chronic understaffing of these organizations. Fewer than 1 in 5 intersex groups and 1 in 3 trans groups have full-time paid staff. Even those with paid staff struggle to provide a living wage given their budget constraints.

Intersex and trans groups overwhelmingly report having pressing, unmet needs which undermine the sustainability of their efforts. Nearly 8 in 10 trans and intersex groups report needing support with fundraising and grant-writing, and roughly three-quarters report needing support in healing from trauma and preventing burnout for trans and intersex activists who are leading the fight against significant human rights violations.

"The funding gap for trans and intersex groups is an outrage that has real-world impacts on people's lives. We call on donors to increase their support and to ensure that funding decisions are driven by the needs of activists," said Sarah Gunther, Director of Philanthropic Partnerships for Astraea. "The International Trans Fund and Intersex Human Rights Fund are two new activist funds that are modeling how this can be done, with strong participation and decision-making by trans and intersex activists themselves. Activists who are closest to the problems that need solving know best which interventions are most effective."

"Intersex and trans activists are fighting violence and discrimination while pioneering new legal reforms and shifting cultural narratives across every region of the world," said David Scamell, Director of International Advocacy for AJWS. "We believe that international funders must step up so that intersex and trans activists will receive the resources and support they need, so that they can continue to build global momentum for positive change for trans and intersex people."

The reports on the state of intersex and trans organizing were released on October 31 in conjunction with the ILGA-Europe 2017 Annual Conference in Warsaw, Poland.

These reports are available here and here.