All INIA Early Stage Researchers will spend time on secondments at partner institutions.  A brief review of their time spent on secondment will be posted here as the information becomes available.

Sean Saifa Wall (ESR2): UOH -> NUIG

As part of my secondment with the National University of Ireland, I participated in the Disability Summer School. This year the focus of the institute was on how UN mechanisms could be used to empower people with disabilities. In addition, I learned about the impact of war on disabled bodies and ways to incorporate disability into programming and advocacy efforts. This secondment including the Disability Summer School lasted from June 20th through the 24th. ​ The secondment was shorter than the 2 weeks originally anticipated because the conference adopted a hybrid model to accommodate people with disabilities and respond to the latest surge of COVID variants.

Sean Saifa Wall (ESR2): UOH -> DCU

From March 1st through 31st, 2022 I was on secondment in Dublin, Ireland. I used that as an opportunity to meet with stakeholders, conduct interviews and learn more about Irish history and culture. I attended a lecture at Dublin City University on child sexual abuse organized by one of the educators in the nursing program. I conducted two qualitative interviews, met with organizers from Shoutout and Belongto (two major LGBT youth orgs in Dublin) and engaged with a representative from the Health Service Executive (HSE).

Ernesto Zelayandia (ESR10): EASP -> OII Europe

Between the months of March and April 2022 I did a 6 week part-time secondment with OII Europe, one of the leading intersex human rights organisations in Europe. We took the decision to carry out my secondment online since most of OII Europe staff was still working from home due to the COVID situation. The prolonged period of 6 weeks working from Monday to Wednesday on OII Europe related issues and the rest of the week on my research project and PhD thesis allowed me the opportunity to get to know OII Europe’s staff better, as I was able to attend their weekly staff meetings for 6 weeks and see how some of their projects developed over time.

Some of the activities I did during my time at OII Europe were: attended an introduction training with a new staff member of the policy team, learned about the history, functioning and current projects of the organization, conducted research on most up to date documents and recommendations from the United Nations human rights monitoring bodies and the Inter-American human rights system, researched recent shadow reports from NGOs concerning the rights of intersex people, participated in a brainstorming session about ways to use EU law and EU institutions to promote intersex human rights, participated in the organization and planning of meetings and workshops for the intersex strategic litigation network, provided feedback on a questionnaire and proposal for the reform of the EU directive concerning victims’ rights and how this could affect intersex people, reviewed the formatting of OII Europe’s new website and proofread OII Europe’s upcoming annual report. I also got the chance to disseminate early findings from my research on a presentation I did with activists, and I got feedback from them. On a separate occasion I participated in a private roundtable discussion about human rights and intersex activist strategies. Overall, this experience was very valuable not only for my research but on a personal level. I got the chance to meet people whose work I am familiar with, but I had never met in person. The secondment also gave me a better insight about the functioning of an organization working on intersex human rights and was helpful in establishing connections for my field work as well.

Martin Gramc (ESR7) and Daria Abrosimova (ESR6): UZH -> CHBI
15 March 2022

In March 2022, Martin and Daria met with the DSD team in Children’s Hospital Bern (Inselspital) to see how health care professionals work with intersex patients and their parents. They met with an endocrinologist, psychologist, and statistician to talk about their roles in the medical and psychosocial treatment. The mentioned team members also showed them some of the premises where the psychosocial support and biochemical analysis take place. Martin and Daria exchanged opinions and knowledge and provided them with early research findings and relevant information and papers for their work. The secondment continued remotely due to a lack of access to the hospital after March 15th. 

Audrey Aegerter (ESR3) ULB -> ZWG
1-26 November, 2021

Zwischengeschlecht asked me to research media outlets, academic and medical papers and other resources to learn about IGM practices in Algeria and Cameroon. I also was investigating how the medical system in these countries was working.
Daniela Truffer and Markus Bauer from Zwischengeschlecht were helpful throughout my secondment. We met once a week to discuss the evolution of my work and answer my questions. They also challenged me to go further in the investigations.
I also translated one shadow report the organisation wrote to the UN on IGM practices in France to French.
During the secondment, I also had the opportunity to understand better how UN mechanisms are influencing intersex rights and the development of the intersex movement.

Axel Keating (ESR6) Dublin City University->University of Helsinki
November 2021

Axel Keating completed a secondment at the University of Helsinki in November 2021. The secondment was held remotely with discussions held via Zoom. Dr. Jukka Lehtonen, a Senior Researcher — with the title of Docent in Sociology of Education — in Gender Studies at the University of Helsinki, is a member of the INIA advisory board and hosted the secondment. Over the two weeks, Axel attended a conference on the histories of sexualities, gender diversity and queerness in the Nordic and Baltic region; attended a meeting of the university’s Gender Studies department; attended a workshop on research findings on the per­spect­ives of LGBTI people and or­gan­isa­tions on education and work en­vir­on­ments during the COVID-19 crisis; and met with local intersex activists, researchers, and education specialists in non-governmental organisations. Axel and Dr. Lehtonen also wrote a brief on the state of education on intersex traits and variations of sex characteristics in Finland.

Adeline Berry (ESR 1) University of Huddersfield->Open University
1-12 November, 2021

I had a secondment for 2 weeks with Open University from November 1st to the 12th, 2021. The two weeks were conducted online due to COVID-19 and the institution being a distance learning university. I had daily meetings with Rebecca Jones when possible and worked on an online introductory course on intersex to be hosted on the Open University site. The content and illustrations were all created by me. Before the end of my secondment the course was praised by the staff member responsible for signing off on it, calling it “clear and engaging.” Anna from Openlearn helped with technical assistance on quiz building and Dr Rebecca Jones, my contact at Open University, provided some guidance and editing ideas based on courses she had built herself. While there I also attended a Sexuality and Sexual Health Research Group where I presented my research which led to my presenting at the FSRH conference in November. The course can be accessed here:

Audrey Aegerter (ESR3) ULB -> OII Europe
11-22 October, 2021

My secondment at OII Europe started with the Fundamental Rights Forum. This two-day conference took place online. With OII Europe’s staff, we exchanged throughout the event using the platform Slack to make sure at least one person was present at the relevant sessions.
On my third day of secondment, I was formally introduced to the team during OII Europe’s weekly team meeting. I also learned about two main tasks awaiting me for the rest of my time with OII Europe.
First, I supported Irene Amoroso and Dan Christian Ghattas with the organisation’s submission to the EC consultation to gather the public’s views on the measures taken by the EU Member States to address gender-based violence against women and domestic violence. OII Europe put forward a submission on “Preventing and combatting gender-based violence and domestic violence against intersex individuals”.
Second, I helped Ins A Kromminga prepare their campaign for Intersex Awareness Day. The campaign was around the International Intersex Forums and raising awareness on the development of the intersex movement.

Ernesto Zelayandia (ESR10) EASP -> IGLYO
October 2021

During the month of October 2021, Ernesto Zelayandia (ESR 10) did a secondment of three weeks at The International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer & Intersex Youth and Student Organisation (IGLYO) one of INIA’s partner organizations from the non-academic sector with expertise in providing advocacy, doing policy work and awareness raising concerning intersex issues in Europe. The secondment was carried out online due to COVID-19 related restrictions.

“The IGLYO team was very welcoming of me and the contact person, Ruben Avila, was very accessible and helpful. During the first week I was able to join a recent hire of the organization in a series of induction meetings. This allowed me to better understand the functioning and structure of IGLYO, its governing bodies and procedures and activity plans both future and past. I was also able to meet IGLYO’s team members, sit on weekly meeting with them, and learn about IGLYO’s work concerning Intersex issues. Despite the difficulties of carrying out a secondment strictly online, I believe that most of the objectives as established in the secondment agreement were accomplished.” – Ernesto Zelayandia

Sean Saifa Wall (ESR2) University of Huddersfield -> Dublin City University
September 2021

In September 2021, with guidance from INIA PI Tanya Ni Mhuirthíle, I did an online secondment with DCU. As part of my secondment, I made contact with several stakeholders whom I interviewed for my project. I also engaged in self-directed study to learn more and understand the Irish social and political context as well as established relationships with people at Belongto, which is an LGBT organization based in Dublin.

In November 2021, I traveled to Dublin to increase my learning and lay the groundwork for the action learning sets for my project. I stayed near Rathmines which was a convenient commute to the center of town and other parts of Dublin. I met with staff members at Belongto and connected with a fellow researcher, Maria Feeney who is apart of the Intersex Mapping Project at DCU. I met with other stakeholders that included a member of gardaí, Ireland’s law enforcement and a PhD student at Trinity College who is researching female to male trans experiences. As far as cultural awareness, I did a walking tour of St. Stephen’s Green, which was a key landmark in the Irish fight for independence and visited Kilmainham Gaol, which was a longstanding prison in Dublin, but is now a museum. Overall, I feel that the trip was very productive and I look forward to my return in March.


Sean Saifa Wall (ESR2) University of Huddersfield -> Scottish Equality Network

In July 2021, I spent a month in Scotland as part of my secondment with the Equality Network. As an activist, I had previously been invited to consult with them about intersex issues. On my first trip, I met with activists and met with representatives in Scottish Parliament. This trip, however, was different because of COVID. Similar to before, I worked closely with Rebecca Crowther who is a Policy Officer at Equality Network. Except for a few times we met in the office, I mainly worked remote. This time with Equality Network was marked by learning about how policy operates in Scotland and the challenges to advancing intersex rights especially considering the recent passing of the Hate Crimes bill which includes protection based on sex characteristics. My work with Equality Network is ongoing as Rebecca and I will be planning a regional meeting of activists and advocates to discuss and strategize about the direction of intersex rights in Ireland and the United Kingdom.

Adeline Berry (ESR 1) University of Huddersfield -> OII Europe

I had a secondment for 3 weeks with OII Europe from May 10th to 28th, 2021. The three weeks were conducted online due to COVID-19. There will be an additional week conducted in person in Berlin, planned for 2022.

I was welcomed through a zoom meeting by members at the beginning of my secondment. Everyone was gracious and welcoming for the entirety of my stay.

During my secondment, I attended staff meetings and contributed where I could.

I worked on a draft of a submission to the UN on the inclusion of intersex categories to a femicide statistics gathering questionnaire which was used as the basis of the submission that was submitted on the behalf of OII Europe.

I had separate meetings with team members, including the executive director, the member responsible for financing and the member responsible for education and community building. All were generous with their knowledge. Funding and financing are not areas of activism I am familiar with, but I feel it is important that I increase my knowledge. I felt my meeting was an invaluable primer on the subject.

I spoke with members of the organisation about possible future collaborations, and I plan to continue attending their community events. I feel that I increased my network during the secondment, strengthened existing relationships and took with me a lot of food for thought which I am hoping to apply to future endeavours.

Link to UN Femicide Questionnaire submission: