LGBTI equality and human rights in Europe and Central Asia

My experience of an intersex campaign

Creating Opportunities

Daniela Ferrazza, Researcher at the user experience design agency Fifth Beat (Italy)

I clearly remember the moment we spoke about this project for the first time. It was the morning after celebrations for my 40 years. The evening before, I drunk as I had 20, so I made twice the effort to follow Raffaele’s speech. Hangovers have strict rules.

Who is Raffaele? Who am I? What was the project about?

Raffaele Boiano - beyond a lifelong friend and therefore a birthday party guest -  is the co-founder of Fifthbeat, a user experience design agency that we love to consider as a boutique because we use methods and techniques that allow us to include in the project both the objectives of the organisations and the needs of the recipients who will use the products and services. I am a social researcher with a background as a methodologist and a passion for humans.

This time, the project goal was message testing for a Creating Opportunities campaign about intersex equality. We were lucky enough to have an informed and frank customer, so the mandate was clear.

I immediately agreed to participate because I felt excited to work on a subject so important to me: freedom and rights of individuals. Freedom to be accepted as you are, even if you are not understood well. In my opinion, this is partly what happens to Intersex people - and to the various 'others' - of not being understood and, therefore, of being rejected.

In this case, doing qualitative research was the only solution. Concentrating (in a limited time slot) on dense in-depth work on a delicate issue, full of pre-judgments and assumed values would have been impossible to do otherwise. In the Creating Opportunities campaign, we chose a focus group to test the reactions of the public to the video in order to proceed to a fine tuning of the video itself.

Besides specific research results, about which we spoke during a webinar, what I would like to underpin here is the personal and professional experience I had.

Many social researchers chose their work, so the mere fact of doing this work is rewarding in itself. But not all agency clients are the same: we work for banks, insurance companies, multinationals, but when we work with NGOs and social activists we rediscover the authentic sense of being a social researcher. Where by social we mean not only that society is the object of study, but above all that our ultimate aim is to contribute to the advancement of society. This is a non-quantifiable type of remuneration, so I am really grateful for this collaboration.

Along with the Creating Opportunities campaign, many other projects were active; the timing was rigid, and in many cases it was necessary to work after dinner. Maybe for most of you is a normal routine: to work after dinner. But I am a kind of skylark, a daytime bird: I wake up at dawn and go to sleep at sunset. It is physiologically almost impossible for me to work late at night, not even when I was younger. In this case, however, I did it, with great satisfaction.

I accepted this project not knowing anything about remuneration, not only for the trust I have in Raffaele, but probably also because …. I would do it anyway. I am not an activist, but I can say that this campaign started in our lives before becoming public, because it started working in minds hearts of those who participated in message testing. It was great to have the opportunity to contribute concretely to the development of a message of awareness.

(Anyway, for the curious readers, in the end I was rightly paid!)