National LGBTQ+ Women's Survey logo in white text with lavender accents.
Urvashi Vaid and Susan Allee at the New York City Dyke March, 2011

Urvashi Vaid and Susan Allee, New York City Dyke March, 2011 (Street Spirit, November 6th, 2013)

Urvashi Vaid photo

“Let’s Keep Going!”

Urvashi Vaid, 1958 - 2022

Urvashi Vaid, fire starter, rabble rouser, punk feminist, queer radical, lesbian activist extraordinaire left this earthly realm on Saturday May 14, with unfinished business.

Urvashi believed in us, in our movements for justice, in the power of our collective action to defeat the craven, immoral systems robbing our communities of joy, assets and our very lives.

She was not happy to leave before we had dismantled racial capitalism, emptied the jails, upended sexism and misogyny, demolished queer and transphobias.

She left us in the middle of crucial work, fired up, still strategizing.

She leaves behind her beloved wife and partner in queer genius, Kate Clinton. She leaves behind literally dozens of projects she founded within and beyond the LGBTQ+ communities including the queer movement’s premiere training ground for organizers, the National LGBTQ Task Force’s Creating Change, the Equality Federation, LPAC, the Donors of Color Network, the National Religious Leadership Roundtable, and the LGBTQ Poverty Agenda.

She leaves behind heartbroken mentees, grantees, collaborators, comrades, ex-lovers, friends, extended family and fans. One of her closest friends said last week: I know we will go on, but how?Those of us who have worked with her closely these past two years on the National LGBTQ+ Women’s Community Survey understand our assignment - to bring to fruition the largest and most in depth study of the lives of US-based LGBTQ+ Women who partner with womxn.

Before Urvashi left us, she was sick and tired of being sick and tired - of the failure to acknowledge much less address the needs of LGBTQ women - our health disparities, pay inequity, housing insecurity, debt, experiences of interpersonal and police violence. She was exhausted by the casual dismissal of the multilayered care burdens LGBTQ women carry - from parents who have often disparaged us to our siblings, partners, ex-lovers, queer kin, children, and grandchildren, to the children in our communities who often find us. Urvashi was determined to make visible the complex responsibilities LGBTQ women shoulder.

And also our genius -- our brilliance and loyalty, our ride or die friendships and partnerships - the unique ways we support ourselves and each other and thrive, against the odds.

Movements for LGBTQ liberation in the US and the world have been profoundly impacted by Urvashi’s vision, strategic gifts, and booming laughter for a generation. She was our ultimate Power Lesbian.

We press forward with her commanding spirit at our back.

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This comprehensive national study is designed for people who have identified as womxn at any point on their journeys and want to share their experiences of centering womxn in their sexual, emotional, familial and social lives.

We invite lesbian, bi, pansexual, trans, intersex, asexual, and queer womxn who partner with womxn; trans men who want to report on
their experience of partnering with womxn when they identified as or  

were perceived to be girls or womxn; and non-binary people who partner with or have partnered with womxn.

Many LGBTQ+ women have been told we are not women, or we are not the right kind of woman, or that simply by being ourselves, we threaten “womanhood.” This survey welcomes all of us who have or do see ourselves as women, and love women. Our use of “womxn” is a part of
that open invitation.

About the Survey

What an incredible moment in history to be an LGBTQ+ woman —

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We are everywhere — writing, teaching, organizing, creating, building fantastic businesses. And leading major initiatives – whether in the political arena, social justice movements, the arts, tech, academia, medicine or law.

And yet — we are also nowhere.

A family: two women with dark skin standing with a young child

We are the punchline of endless jokes – our hopeless fashion, our overparenting, and our unfathomable sex lives. But, the hard truths of our lives – how we survive every day at the intersections of sexism, racism, ableism, homo-, bi-, queer- and transphobias – somehow these barely register in the public policy arena. This is often true even in our own LGBTQ+ movement spaces.

The concerns of LGBTQ+ women who partner with women are dismissed with the wave of a hand, and yet, what do gatekeepers and policy makers know about our lives?

What do WE know?

How does the average LGBTQ+ woman choose and configure our families? How do we grow our families and social lives? With friends? Lovers? Via birthing, adopting, aunty-ing, or fostering children?

We don’t know.

How does partnering with women impact our ability to find work, housing and healthcare?

We don’t know.

How are we surviving the many systems of violence aimed at us?  How many of our family members are in state surveillance and punishment systems?  How many of us grew up in them?

We don’t know.

How does being a transgender lesbian impact our lives?  What are the experiences of non-binary people who identify as lesbians, or partner with women or other non-binary people?

We don’t know.
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The National LGBTQ+ Women*s Community Survey is a comprehensive national study distributed online, in English and Spanish, that addresses the significant gap in knowledge, policy analysis, organizing, and advocacy about the life experiences, needs, priorities and challenges faced by LGBTQ+ women, our partners, and families.

This national survey is designed for people who have identified as women at any point on their journeys and want to share their experiences of centering women in their sexual, emotional, familial and social lives.

We invite lesbian, bi, pansexual, trans, intersex, asexual, and queer women who partner with women; trans men who want to report on their experience of partnering with women when they identified as or were perceived to be girls or women; and non-binary people who partner with or have partnered with women.

The study reaches into many corners of our lives and affords us the ability to analyze how some experiences influence others.

  • We ask questions about our families of origin, religious traditions, and childhood schools and teams.
  • We ask about experiences of discrimination in housing, health care, immigration, the workplace, accessing capital, and higher education. 
  • We look at interpersonal violence, policing, incarceration, and other state systems of surveillance.
  • We examine our political affiliations and participation, volunteerism, movement involvement, and civic life.  
  • We look at ourselves, our relationships with each other and the impacts of surviving multiple, daily, anti-LGBTQ, racist, and sexist forces as we build our amazing queer lives.
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Join us in this national effort to shatter myths as we grow knowledge and power.

Take the survey now!
Why a Survey?

While the federal government collects data on so many aspects of life, from housing to healthcare, from family life to work and sources of income, almost none of these studies include LGBTQ+ identifiers.  Accordingly, we have little national data about the lives of LGBTQ+ women – neither about what we are surviving nor how we are thriving.

We have so many stories – all of us living as LGBTQ+ women and observing the multilayered impacts of misogyny, structural sexism and racism, and economic inequality, on ourselves and our loved ones in the workplace, at school, at the doctor’s office, on the street, and as we try to gain funding for businesses and homeownership.

We have a lot to say about what we have observed over the course of surviving these systems.  And we have had nowhere to say it...until now.

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Lesbian, bi and trans women of color who partner with women, especially, have outrageous stories to tell about the impacts of racism, sexism, economic inequality, and queer and transphobias as we try to build partnerships and lives.

Having gathered a team of leading LGBTQ+ women of color activists and academics to construct our Survey and connect and communicate with potential respondents, this project will create an unprecedented data bank on lesbian, bi, trans, non-binary and queer women of color’s experiences.

Our stories are begging to be told, and this expansive, multi-layered research project will present the breadth and depths of our lived reality to a generation of advocates, funders, policy makers, and researchers who will take up our findings; discard damaging stereotypes and erroneous assumptions; recast their understanding of LGBTQ+ women’s communities; reprioritize LGBTQ+ women’s lives and needs; and grow literally thousands of fresh, critical opportunities and inquiries about our lives.

The beauty and richness of our LGBTQ+ women’s communities has never been fully explored or addressed by academics, political parties, or the mainstream press.  Neither has it been fully appreciated by our own LGBTQ+ communities.

We understand that racial, gender and economic justice will be core drivers of wellness and security for LGBTQ+ women in the decades ahead; this study will expose and render a picture of life, resilience and struggle that will move policy makers and gatekeepers to act in good faith on behalf of LGBTQ+ women who partner with women.

Team

Advisory Committee

A distinguished Advisory Committee of leading LGBTQ+ activists and scholars serve as a primary accountability mechanism and resource for this groundbreaking project.

Study Team

Color logo for Justice Work at the Vaid Group

Justice Work at The Vaid Group is a think tank/action lab that develops and builds community interventions using research and data analysis, community engagement, organizing, consultation, convening, network building, policy development- crafting solutions from practice. These interventions are dedicated to advancing racial, gender, economic and climate equity and are grounded in partnership with front-line organizations working in the substantive areas in which we focus. Justice Work is a c3 fiscally sponsored project of the National Center for Civic Innovation, a leading fiscal sponsorship hub at the Fund for the City of New York.

Additional Support

Emory University serves as the academic hub for the Survey and will provide IRB approval. Research support provided by:

  • Kalamazoo College & Dr. Lisa Brock, Academic Director of the Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership
  • Dr. Juan Battle, Presidential Professor, Graduate Center CUNY; Co-Founder Social Justice Sexuality Initiative
  • Graduate Students from CUNY Graduate Center: August Smith, B. Rivera-Degnan, Parisa Montazaran Osmanovic, and Oriana Gonzales
  • Graduate Students from Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health: Amanda Kramer, Cara Faherty, and Lauren Collin

Organizing Support is provided Rebeca Fomich, Outreach Intern at Justice Work at The Vaid Group.

Funders

Funding for the project has been provided by Arcus Foundation, Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice, Billie Jean King Leadership Initiative, Dee Mosbacher, Field Hamilton Fund, Grindr4Equality, Laughing Gull Foundation, Linda Ketner, Ms. Foundation for Women, New York Women's Foundation, The Palette Fund, The Rising Fund, and Wellspring Philanthropic Fund.

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