1A Te Mahi Oranga: Employment

Employment provides a sense of fulfilment and economic independence. The right to work was important for trans people. Denial of this human right had affected many submitters.

"He didn’t fit in, he wasn’t part of the team, he wasn’t one of us" – you can’t fight that kind of response. (Trans woman)

One submitter explained how she felt "disenfranchised from the world" when she

transitioned and received 147 rejection letters before gaining her job. Submitters stated they had been harassed, bullied, restructured out of jobs or moved away from front-line positions. In some cases they were explicitly told this was due to their gender identity.

Others described their fitness to work being questioned. One submitter decided to leave a job involving children, rather than face further humiliation. Unions highlighted the need for clearer legal protection to redress discrimination against people on the grounds of gender identity.

Some submitters had difficulties accessing sick leave when a manager perceived that trans surgery and health issues were due to "a lifestyle choice". Submitters who worked in professional jobs with more flexibility found it easier to take time off for such surgery.

Some people had received good support from their employer, workmates and union delegates when they transitioned. Submitters in this situation often provided managers with information about the transition process and they jointly planned how to inform other staff, change employment records and handle other issues. One large university had an EEO policy and programme that addressed issues for trans applicants and staff.

In some cases, employers or workmates might not be aware that a co-worker is trans. In one submission, a trans man was excited about a new job where people only knew him as a man. When someone disclosed his gender identity, co-workers started taunting him with his old female name and the employer requested a police check.

Obtaining police clearance is necessary for some occupations and requires people to disclose their sex/gender identity. Some felt this had prejudiced their chances of getting a job. Many submitters considered that their rights to privacy should be better protected and were worried information would not be held in confidence.


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