The National Tertiary Education Union is fighting for Gender Affirmation Leave at universities across the country, with almost one thousand signatures supporting a petition to demand the University of Tasmania treats trans and gender diverse staff properly.
As part of negotiations with all universities, NTEU members are requesting Gender Affirmation Leave of up to 30 days per annum.
The University of Tasmania has rejected this claim, instead offering just 10 days of special leave for all staff – but not specifically for trans and gender diverse people.
Queer Unionists in Tertiary Education (QUTE), a network of members and staff of the NTEU actively engaged in addressing the issues facing workers of diverse sexual orientation, gender identity and expression and sex characteristics in higher education and within the union, is leading the charge.
QUTE National Convenor Amy Sargeant said “Gender Affirmation Leave will save the lives of tertiary education workers. There are too many stories of incredible workers who have had to quit their jobs while they’re transitioning because they are not supported.
“The consequences can be too difficult to bear for many, deprived of income during a highly traumatic time in their lives of which they have no control over.
“This cannot be solved in 10 days. There must be a much greater amount of leave given, commensurate to the needs of workers, and it must be renewed each year so staff are afforded the security to seek assistance.
“Supporting trans and gender diverse people in the workplace has wider benefits both within those workplaces and in broader society.
“Already overworked tertiary education staff won’t have to take on more unmanageable workloads when a trans and diverse staff member is forced to resign because they are not supported by their employer.
“When Gender Affirmation Leave clauses start to appear in our agreements, they will be used by unions across Australia as the benchmark for other industries.
“Management at the University of Tasmania needs to listen to not only the union but those who have supported our petition and accept our requests.”