In the second half of 2013, OII Australia participated in a ground-breaking study by GATE and American Jewish World Service (AJWS) on funding for trans* and intersex community and human rights work. The study, The State of Trans* and Intersex Organizing, was published in December 2013 and the results are somewhat challenging, particularly for intersex community organisations:
- Access to funding is limited: Difficulties in “accessing funding are even more pronounced for intersex groups” than they are for trans* groups (page 2); intersex organisations are not eligible for most philanthropic funding programs, such as those for LGBT, disability, and women.
- There’s little funding for intersex issues: 6% of all identified human rights funding goes to LGBTI rights work; US $72.6 million out of $1.2 billion globally. $1.6 million is available, globally, for trans* issues. However, 0.14% or “just over $40,000 addressed intersex issues” (page 9). That’s less than a single average wage in Australia. This is not a typographical error; it’s simply shocking. Both the headline figure and the share of funding for work on intersex issues need to rise.
- Intersex led organisations suffer as a result: “Intersex-led groups have a median annual budget of $0 – $5,000” (page 16). Our annual income and expenditure figures have historically been towards the low end of that range, but small project funding looks likely to take us beyond that figure in the current financial year, for the very first time. No identified intersex-led groups anywhere in the world have any governmental funding of any kind (page 18).
- Intersex-led organisations have distinct priorities: “The “T” and the “I” are often included in LGBTI organizations in name only, with little impact on the organizations’ programs, priorities or leadership”, and the composition of leadership affects organisational priorities: both LGBTI organisations, and trans and intersex organisations, have identifiably different priorities to intersex organisations. In our view, this is immediately apparent in the brief list of relevant submissions to last year’s Senate inquiry on involuntary or coerced sterilisation.
OII Australia is mentioned as a short case study on page 9 of the report.
We have achieved extraordinary and world-beating recognition in previous years. We have solid achievements in tackling the human rights violations detailed in the study: work on bodily autonomy, anti-discrimination and equitable treatment, eliminating the stigmatisation of intersex, access to identification documents, and broader healthcare access issues. Funding to continue this work is now one of our key priorities. Out of necessity, we need funding to effectively underpin our work.