Thanks to some of our ‘out’ trans union members, leaders and human rights advocates in the labour movement are becoming increasingly educated on trans issues in the workplace and the community.
This guide is designed for trade union leaders, union staff representatives, local executive and committee members and shop stewards so that we can better protect the rights of our trans members and ensure they have the support they need before, during and after they transition.
A transsexual person is someone who has changed or is in the process of changing their biological sex so that it conforms to their gender identity. And so, they transition to living life in their gender identity – sometimes taking steps to bring their body in line with who they are.
Trans issues are complex (ask a trans person – they’ll likely agree!) But as we struggle to come to terms with challenges to traditionally established notions of gender, we can rely on basic union principles to guide us.
Trans workers are workers, trade unionists and part of our movement. We know it’s wrong for employers to fire people based on irrelevant personal characteristics. We know it’s wrong when one of our members is afraid to come to work for fear of co-worker harassment and violence. We know it’s wrong when employers deny one of our members access to benefits while providing it to others. We know it’s wrong when any member faces ridicule on the job. We know it’s wrong when employers leak private information about us. We know it’s wrong when one of our members is afraid to turn to the union for help, for fear of being rejected. We know it’s wrong when the majority stands silently by and watches a member suffer.
Unions have a legal and moral responsibility to defend all members. And, we have a strong track record and the skills and tools needed to defend the rights of minority workers.