The CWU is trade union that prides itself in being a Union that is current and reflective of its membership, and this can clearly be seen to be the case where its Branches are concerned.
The CWU’s NI Telecoms Branch reflects the needs of all its members, and that includes those within the Transgender co9mmuntity in the Branch and in the wider community.
Branch Chair, Erin Massey spoke on behalf of the Branch member and the author of the Branch's transgender motion, at the CWU’s Annual Telecoms and Financial Services Conference on Thursday 2nd May; promoting the need for a new way of thinking, if we are going to be able to support the needs of Transgender people, at least in the short-term:
Reading out the Branch member's written heartfelt speech, Erin made the case for urgent action to help those who currently receive very little help from the NHS, and put forward the argument that this warrants the need to look elsewhere in order to support those employed by BT who are in desperate need for support and medical intervention.
Here is the motion and speech as presented to the T&FS Conference this week:
Motion 83: Conference instructs the T&FS Executive, to help secure private medical healthcare for transgender and non-binary employees through existing private healthcare packages within BT and Openreach, a pioneering approach adopted by Lloyd's Banking Group and Citibank in 2016 and 2018 respectively.
This radical healthcare initiative resulted in Lloyd’s being placed first in Stonewall’s Top 100 Inclusive Employers 2017, a list recognising organisation at the forefront of driving LGBT+ inclusion in the workplace.
For the past decade, despite supposedly striving to do so, BT and Openreach have failed to make this list. I put it to you that these organisations must cement their support of trans* individuals by extending the same level of commitment and care shown by Lloyd’s and Citibank, in recognising and supporting the necessary, lifechanging treatment for gender dysphoria.
Northern Ireland Telecom
“I wish to present a motion to the CWU with the aim of securing private medical healthcare for transgender and non-binary employees through existing private healthcare packages within BT and Openreach; a pioneering approach adopted by Lloyds Banking Group and Citibank in 2016 and 2018 respectively.
This radical healthcare initiative resulted in Lloyds being placed first in Stonewall's Top 100 Inclusive Employers the following year, a list recognising organisations at the forefront of driving LGBT+ inclusion in the workplace.
For the past decade, despite supposedly striving to do so, BT and Openreach have failed to make this list.
I put it to you that these organisations must cement their support of trans individuals by extending the same level of commitment and care shown by Lloyds and Citibank.
Treatment for gender dysphoria, the intense disconnect between one's internal sense of gender identity and the sex assigned at birth, is currently excluded from all private healthcare packages across the UK, barring those aforementioned.
This leaves most trans people relying on a broken NHS. After that initial terrifying GP visit to say “I’m not okay” there is a wait of anywhere between two to five years to access a first appointment with a gender therapist. If left untreated like this gender dysphoria will typically manifest as severe depression and suicidal ideation.
Some statistics place the suicide attempt rate for trans individuals as high as almost one in every two. Our lives are not a coin toss.
Treatment for gender dysphoria typically includes a mix of talking therapies, hormone therapy, and surgical intervention; without access to the NHS this treatment is rendered unattainable to the majority of trans individuals.
Top surgery for trans men, a term used within the community in this instance to denote a double mastectomy accompanied by chest masculinisation, costs around £7,000 privately.
At present the aforementioned surgery is currently not offered on the NHS in Northern Ireland at all due to bureaucratic problems within the Belfast Trust that are outside of the control of those actually suffering.
In the interim trans men have little choice but to wear compression garments designed to alleviate chest dysphoria. This practice leaves many trans men with long-term back problems and rib damage. The current cheapest and most accessible alternative for trans individuals across the UK is to travel to Poland to access the surgeries they so desperately need.
No UK citizen should be forced to travel internationally to receive healthcare.
Gender Reassignment Surgery, also known as bottom surgery, for trans women and trans men can cost anywhere from £20-50,000, a figure unattainable by most. Lloyds estimated that just 0.02% of their UK workforce would avail of private medical coverage for transgender individuals, a financial commitment that amounts to pennies in their long-term budget and is far outweighed by the message it has sent to the LGBT+ community at large, both inside and outside of their workforce.
By financially supporting the healthcare of transgender and non-binary staff, BT and Openreach will signal that they fully support their LGBT+ colleagues and customers.
I hope the CWU will stand tall alongside their trans members by supporting this motion.”
After some debate the motion was unfortunately lost.
Feed back seems to indicate that the use of private healthcare was the main oppositioin to this motion.
( Note: interestingly, private healthcare company Beneden Private Health Insurance has had a stall at CWU annual conference for many years.)
Source: Erin Massey / Unionsafety