All INIA Early Stage Researchers spent time on secondments at partner institutions.  A brief review of their activities while on secondment is provided here below.

Macarena Murugarren (ESR5): DCU -> IGLYO

Macarena’s secondment at IGLYO took place from February 19th to February 28th. During her secondment, she was asked to contribute to the Best practices database, which includes laws, policies, and programmes that try to create safer and more inclusive education systems for LGBTQI youth. She worked on identifying two of these practices and writing a narrative for each conducting online research and document analysis. These practices included the new Sex and Relationship Education activities handbooks for Junior Cycle in Ireland and the Mocha Celis Secondary School for trans and NB population in Argentina.
Macarena also participated in one staff meeting and conducted meetings with the Policy and Research Manager and the Policy and Research Officer.
Thanks to her secondment at IGLYO, she learnt about the way educational policies are applied in different EU countries, about the differences and similarities between conducting research for a civil organisation and an academic institution, and the way an organisation that works with youth and education is structured and works on a day-to-day basis.

Svet Sol (ESR7): UAB -> IGLYO

From 16 October to 16 November 2023, Svet carried out their secondment at IGLYO. This is the testimonial from IGLYO:

Svet contributed to IGLYO’s work by participating in two main events: the International Conference on Hate Crime and Hate Speech experienced by LGBTQI Youth (November 9th to 16th in Ljubljana, Slovenia), and IGLYO’s Annual Members’ Conference (October 19th to 23 th in Podgorica, Montenegro).

First, Svet brought a truly positive contribution to IGLYO’s International Conference on Hate Crime and Hate Speech. In coordination with the Advocacy team, Svet delivered two sessions: “Data collection and monitoring of hate crime and hate speech” and “Implementation of policies”. In addition, Svet helped collect input from participants and contributed to drafting guidelines for policymakers on this topic.

Second, Svet demonstrated their commitment and dedication at IGLYO’s Annual Members’ Conference. They were fully involved in the delivery of the full programme of the event. One of Svet’s main tasks was to serve on the Ballot committee at IGLYO’s General Assembly and oversee the voting process with a lot of efficiency. They also went above and beyond to assist participants with the technical element of voting.

In both events, Svet became an integral part of the team: They contributed to daily debriefing meetings, engaged with participants with openness and enthusiasm, and provided valuable feedback on the activities of the organisation. Their specific expertise brought a very important perspective to the discussion. They came across as truly generous and caring, besides being an excellent academic with critical thinking. Working with Svet was an absolute honour.

Yessica Mestre (ESR9): EASP -> OII Europe

From September 2nd to September 23rd, 2023, Yessica was on a secondment at OII Europe, Germany. During this period, she participated in the organization of meetings and proposed initiatives. During her time at OII Europe, she learned about public policy implementation on a European scale. She also shared research findings that could be useful for future projects that the organization could have regarding research ethics in intersex studies. She considers her secondment at OII Europe a totally new experience, particularly for her career development.

Martin Gramc (ESR7): UZH -> ULB

In the month of May 2023 Martin Gramc did their secondment at the Université Libre Bruxelles (ULB), Brussels, Belgium. During their stay at ULB Martin took part in a roundtable discussion with fellow researchers Audrey Aegerter, Ernesto Zelayandia Gonzalez, Derave Charly and Mauro Cabral about the importance and developments of intersex research. 

Martin, Audrey, and Ernesto also met several times with Cynthia Kraus, a renowned researcher in the field of intersex studies. Together with Cynthia they discussed their research: conceptual frameworks, methodology and other topics. During their stay at ULB Martin also engaged in many fruitful discussions with research fellows at the ULB.

Ernesto Zelayandía (ESR10): EASP -> ULB

Ernesto traveled from Granada to Brussels to continue his secondment at Université Libre de Bruxelles from 14th April to 16th June 2023 (first part: October 3rd – 28th, 2022). During this period he participated in a round table discussion about “Research for intersex justice” (19th May 2023) and attended a seminar by Cynthia Krauss on “Changing intersex medicine: How to develop a model of care which is ethically consistent and non-ethnocentric.” Other activities included a meeting with external professors and policy makers for research purposes, participating in academic discussions with other PhD and post doc researchers from the Atelier Genre(s) et Sexualité(s) (AGS), as well as attending seasonal seminars of the AGS. Ernesto also met with other ESRs to discuss research ethics problems.

Audrey Aegerter (ESR3) ULB->RU

Audrey spent 6 weeks at Radboud University in Nijmegen, Netherlands. During that time she had the opportunity to discuss with academics and PhD Students from the faculty of political sciences. At the end of her secondment, she presented her research during an interdisciplinary seminar organised by Radboud University; the Gender Hotspot. The presentation ended with many interesting and challenging questions. In addition to that, Audrey was invited at NNID’s office, the Dutch intersex organisation. She also met intersex activists and Margriet van Heesch, a scholar from the University of Amsterdam who is working on intersex since the early 2000s.

Somya Dixit (ESR4) DCU-> SEN

From 6th February to 3rd March, I was on a secondment with Equality Network, Scotland. During this time, I got the opportunity to meet various stakeholders who are working on issues relating to LGBTI+ community. I worked closely with Rebecca Crowther who is a Policy Officer at Equality Network and sat in on staff meetings of SEN. I attended various meetings that ranged from discussing housing issues faced by LGBT community, LGBTI Equality Clause, and the discussions on the status of intersex in Scotland’s equality strategy. I was also able to attend the seminar on ‘Sexuality, gender identity and homelessness in Scotland’ organised by the LGBT Health & Wellbeing, LGBT Youth Scotland, Simon Community Scotland and the Centre for Homelessness Impact.

Svet Sol (ESR8) UAB->UOH

During their 2-month secondment in England, Svet carried out fieldwork related to intersex representations and started the analysis of interview data. They attended a series of talks put on as part of the Cross School Research sandpit with Just Futures Centre and the Centre for Law Environment and Rights, and contributed to the workshop in which they met various academics and students from across the Schools of Human and Health Sciences and Law at the University of Huddersfield (live event). They also took part in the live events with expert speaker Valentino Vecchietti (put on as part of the INIA Training) which consisted of a presentation about activism and alliances, plus 2 short films, and then a workshop on Culture and Embodiment. Svet attended the National Student Pride’s academic mini-conference and open talks at the University of Westminster, London for the purpose of fieldwork. Finally, Svet took part in the ‘Centring Intersex: Global and Local Dimensions’ conference, and networked with UK-based ESRs during their visit.

Svet Sol (ESR8) UAB -> TMW

From October 15 to October 29, Svet completed their 2-week secondment with Trans Media Watch . During the secondment, they gained expert knowledge on the state of intersex media representations in the UK, conducted insightful interviews with TMW staff, and got in contact with several more intersex people for the interviews with the help of TMW.

Yessica Mestre (ESR9) EASP -> UOH

From October 7th to November 23rd 2022, I was on secondment at the University of Huddersfield, United Kingdom. During this period, I exchanged research information with my INIA colleagues ESR1 and ESR2, to improve my research techniques and Ph.D. research. During my time in the United Kingdom, I expanded my networking by having meetings with researchers from other academic institutions who have experience with intersex people´s issues and human rights frameworks. As a result of these meetings, I am invited to participate in two different outreach activities in 2023 to present the human rights context of intersex people and their current issues. I consider my secondment in the United Kingdom a priceless experience for my research data analysis and career development.

Somya Dixit (ESR4) DCU-> Uni Malta

From 19th September to 18th November 2022, I was on a secondment with the University of Malta, Malta. During this time, I undertook fieldwork for my INIA project. I got the opportunity to interact with various stakeholders from different fields who closely work with the intersex community. For instance, I met the Human Rights Directorate of Malta and stakeholders involved in making the GIGESC Act of 2015. I also interacted with local NGOs and the members of the Medical Treatment Protocol Working Group.  I got the opportunity to meet and talk to intersex persons and their families, which gave me a better understanding of the day-to-day lives of the intersex community in Malta.

I attended an intersex movie screening that took place on Intersex Awareness Day (26th October 2022) where I shared my knowledge of intersex human rights with the audience. I also presented two invited lectures at the University of Malta. The first presentation took place on October 11 on ‘intersex and feminism’ and the second presentation on October 18 on ‘intersex and intersectionality of inequality.’

Martin Gramc (ESR7) UZH -> EASP

In the month of October 2022 early-stage researcher Martin Gramc did their secondment at the Andalusian School of Public Health (EASP), Granada, Spain. Two events deserve special mention during their stay at EASP. The researcher gave a presentation about their research topic, i.e. multidisciplinary teams in intersex care, and presented early findings of their qualitative research at the Europubhealth – European Public Health Master / Master in Public Health and Healthcare Management on October 13th. Together with Yessica Mestre Martínez, INIA researcher at EASP, and visiting scholar at the Institute of Biomedical Ethics and the History of Medicine in Zürich, Martin Gramc participated in the workshop on the new biomedical and human rights approaches to intersex health care in Prague on October 20th.

In addition to academic activities Martin also established new contacts with local researchers to advance their research project on the ethics, collaboration, and composition of multidisciplinary teams in intersex health care.

Adeline Berry (ESR1): UOH -> SEN

I was on secondment at Scottish Equality Network from October 31st to November 11th. During my time with SEN, I sat in on staff meetings. I also worked on a policy brief regarding the inclusion of variations of sexual characteristics in hate crime legislation which was submitted to the Scottish government.

I met with a representative from the Scottish government in relation to inclusion of intersex in mental health strategies for LGBT+ communities.

I provided a training on intersex to LGBT Health and LGBT age, a Scotland-wide organisation that works for the wellbeing of LGBT+ communities. It was well received, and I have been invited back to give follow up trainings and workshops.

Ernesto Zelayandia (ESR10): EASP -> ULB

As part of my research project I did a secondment from October 1st, 2022 to October 31st at the Université Libre de Bruxelles at the Ateliers Genre(s) et Sexualité(s). In addition to the discussions and interactions I had with ESR 3, Audrey Aegerter and supervisor PI David Patternotte regarding intersex activism, my stay in Brussels also allowed me to meet face to face with other relevant stakeholders. For instance, I got to meet with faculty at the University of Ghent to learn about the process of limiting unnecessary surgeries on intersex children. Likewise, I got to meet with staff from the office of the Belgian Secretary of State for Gender Equality, Equal Opportunity and Diversity to have a similar discussion on the legislative process of protecting intersex people’s right to bodily integrity. I was also able to participate in the academic activities at ULB, for example I attended three classes on social movements, and I was able to listen to a guest lecturer present on the topic of anti-gender movements. Moreover, for intersex awareness day, October 26th, I was able to present at the Ateliers Genre(s) et Sexualité(s) findings from my research, their feedback will enrich my analysis process.

Yessica Mestre (ESR9): EASP -> UZH

From June 20th to August 1st, 2022, I was on a secondment with the University of Zurich, Switzerland.  During this time, I shared research experiences with the members of the Institute of Biomedical Ethics and History of Medicine (IBME), got in contact with their research projects and research techniques, and used that knowledge to enrich my PhD research. During my time there, I participated in the 9th I-DSD Symposium in Bern, Switzerland from July 13th to 16th. On the first day I was able to collaborate in the development of a Workshop led by Dr. Jürg Streuli along with my two colleagues Daria Abrosimova and Martin Gramc.

The following days of the symposium were useful for my research because I could expand my network and get in contact with healthcare professionals who I invited to participate as interviewees in my research project. Also, I could obtain some research data that can be important for the development of the objectives of my research. Another result of my secondment is the invitation from Charles University Prague to participate in the Prague School of Bioethics, Women in Medicine on October 20th and 21st, along with my colleague Martin Gramc. We will lead a presentation focused on intersex people, their human rights, and their health care. I consider my secondment in Switzerland a unique experience for my research objectives and personal development.

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.They also conducted an analysis of the CHBI team composition, communication, provision of medical and psycho-social care, use of tools, data analysis and areas of future research and acquired a deeper understanding of the local team dynamics, care priorities and patient 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: