At UBC, we know that diversity is welcomed, respected and considered foundational to excellence in research, education and engagement. UBC recognizes that respect and support for transgender and gender diverse faculty and staff is central to their success and well-being.
It is our interactions at work that can help us to feel a valued member of society. The recognition of gender diversity, specifically for people who identify as transgender, two-spirit, or non-binary, affirms and acknowledges that gender is highly personal and fluid, and is worthy of respect at UBC.
As a transitioning employee you can expect a welcoming, inclusive, and respectful work environment. By working proactively with your manager/supervisor, your transition and/or gender affirming process, you can help create a positive experience through the process. The following information is intended to help you understand what resources and benefits are available at UBC and how best to support and coordinate a transition process with the support of your manager/supervisor at this institution.
Human rights and employer responsibilities
To best understand what protections and rights you have as a transgender, two-spirit, and non-binary person at UBC, please review the following protections under the BC Human Rights Code, as well as federal protections under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. For more information, please see www.transrightsbc.ca.
An employer’s responsibilities to transgender individuals include:
- Providing hiring, training, compensation, promotion and termination processes free from discrimination;
- providing access to appropriate washrooms, change facilities, dress code, and uniforms;
- upholding privacy and confidentiality wherever possible, including keeping trans status confidential if this is the employee’s request;
- understanding and following provincial law regarding gender identity and expression (e.g., changing personnel records to reflect a trans employee’s gender identity);
- not refusing time off for gender affirming medical procedures;
- recognizing that transgender medical care is not cosmetic in nature;
- making accommodations for an employee, up to the point of undue hardship;
- addressing bullying and harassment concerns based on someone’s gender identity or gender expression; and,
- encouraging a respectful work environment by leading by example and/or offering education support to their team.
Note: Throughout the document, transgender also includes two-spirit and non-binary gender identities. Two-spirit and non-binary will be used when specifically referred to in relation to UBC policy, practice or in reference to resources.
Definitions used at UBC to understand gender diversity
Transitioning in the workplace: planning a collaborative, supportive approach
Trans, two-spirit, and non-binary employees have the right to change their gender identity and/or gender expression while in their workplace. These changes support gender diverse employees to be themselves at work, but as with all changes, it is an adjustment both for the individual who is transitioning and for others in the workplace who need to make changes to how they interact with the transitioning employee. It is important to understand that changes may occur gradually or rapidly and that managers/supervisors know that there is no right or wrong way to transition.
In some cases, as an employee, you may wish to keep your gender affirming changes and plans private, or to let only some people in the workplace know. In other cases, you may wish to announce your transition widely. In either case, the first step is consulting with your manager/supervisor to determine your wishes regarding confidentiality and desired supports. If you belong to an employee group, you may want a representative from your union or association present at this or any other meeting related to your transition plan.
Guidelines for the transitioning employee
Discussing your transition plans with a manager/supervisor
Having the right support network in place can assist in your gender affirming/transition journey in the workplace. Involving your supervisor and supportive colleagues can help ensure the gender affirmation process is a positive experience for you and all involved and should be the first step in the process.
Getting started – What’s your plan?
- Talk with your supervisor/manager
- Make a list of UBC staff you will need to work with during your transition/gender affirmation process
- Make a timeline – what are some specific dates that you and your colleagues need to plan around (time away for surgery or other medical procedures? Use of a new name and/or pronouns?)
- Specific issues that need to be addressed at the outset – shifts in voice and appearance that might raise questions in teams or colleagues
- How would you like your team and colleagues to learn about your transition – e.g. an email, face-to-face group meeting, individual discussions and/or have your manager/supervisor explain
- How would you like your team and colleagues to support your transition?
- Participation in education through the Positive Space Campaign?
- Emails or comments of support?
- Will you need to make changes to professional licenses, qualifications or accreditations?
- Do any external parties need to be informed? If yes, what is the approach and how will this be communicated?
Review the following checklist before meeting with your manager/supervisor to prepare for a fulsome conversation. While there are many changes that you can initiate, it will be helpful to plan out when and who will be responsible for specific changes.
Health and benefits
The following provides information and helpful links to gender-affirming public health and wellness, supports including UBC benefits provisions and resources.
The Provincial Health Services Authority has a service called Trans Care BC. The Trans Care BC’s care coordination team helps connect people in BC to gender-affirming health and wellness supports. The website links to resources available to you and those closest to you.
This website provide a general outline of coverage for specific health services and supplies. A Trans Care BC Health Navigator and Primary Care Physician can provide further detail for the transitioning employee on non-UBC benefits related coverage.
Hormone therapy and coverage
Hormone therapy may be prescribed by a primary care physician or nurse practitioner (feminizing hormone therapy only). Not all primary care physicians feel comfortable initiating hormone therapy, and may require a letter from a mental health professional before writing a prescription.
In BC, the cost of hormone therapy may be covered by an employer benefits plan (such as the UBC Extended Health plan) and/or PharmaCare (BC public drug program – the main program, Fair PharmaCare, is income-based and will cover drugs once the annual deductible has been reached).
Generally speaking, the UBC Extended Health plan will cover estrogen/progesterone and testosterone at 80% (100% for BCGEU Childcare employees); however, the Drug Identification Number (DIN) of the prescribed drug(s) is required for final confirmation. To confirm coverage, employees can contact the Sun Life Call Centre at 1-800-661-7334 or 1-800-361-6212 or use the drug look-up feature on the Sun Life Plan Member website or mobile app.
For more information, visit the Provincial Health Services Authority’s Hormone Therapy page.
Gender affirming surgery and coverage
In BC, the cost of gender affirming surgeries are automatically covered under the public provincial health program, Medical Services Plan (MSP) if a Qualified Assessor(s) recommends surgery.
MSP will cover physician and hospital in-patient medical care services related to the surgery. The following costs are not covered:
- Travel costs to and from Montreal for lower surgeries and surgical revisions. Masculinizing bottom surgeries, erectile and/or testicular implants require at least two trips to Montreal. (Note: There is no reimbursement for travel costs under the UBC Extended Health Plan.)
- Supportive garments (for breast augmentation and chest surgery). (Note: The UBC Extended Health plan will cover surgical brassieres required as a result of surgery at 80% (100% for Childcare employees), up to a maximum of $150 per person per year. Some employment groups may also use their Health Spending Account credits to cover these costs.)
For information on surgery, visit the Provincial Health Services Authority’s How to Get Surgery page.
For more information on funding, visit the Provincial Health Services Authority’s Surgery Funding page.
Counselling and support/social groups
There are a number of counselling services and supports that are available to you for your emotional wellbeing. Finding the right fit with a counsellor is important, and Trans Care BC can connect you with counselling information that best suits you in your area. If Trans Care BC does not have the information for a certain area, they will do research and find someone close to you or on Skype.
Should you find counsellor through a referral from Trans Care BC, the extended health benefits plan can provide financial support under the psychological services provision. The extended health plan provides 100% reimbursement of reasonable and customary charges for services provided by a registered psychologist, registered clinical counsellor or social worker, up to a maximum of $2,500 per person per year.
QMUNITY: Counselling Services and Support/Social Groups from QMUNITY (BC’s Queer Resource Centre)
Other External Resources
Catherine White Holman Wellness Centre: CWHWC provides low-barrier wellness services to transgender and gender non-conforming people in ways that are respectful and celebratory of clients’ identity and self-expression. The services include, general health care, counselling, legal resources, and a community kitchen.
Prism Services: Three Bridges Health Centre: Prism is Vancouver Coastal Health’s education, information and referral service for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, Two-Spirit and queer + (LGBT2Q+) communities.
For more information on short-term sick leave provision, medical appointments, and the long-term disability coverage specific to your employment group, please click here.