Massachusetts- transgender people need paid sick days tooPosted November 11th, 2011 by Emilia
As a transgender person, I realize how important it is to have paid sick days. If you don’t know, a transgender person is just like anyone else, but refers to people who transition from one gender to another and/or their gender expression varies from conventional expectations of how they should look, act, or identify based on their birth sex. This can include male-to-female (MTF) or female-to-male (FTM) transsexual people. Some transgender people experience their gender identity as incongruent with anatomical sex at birth, such as the case with me.
In order to medically transition in a healthcare setting, many medical appointments are required to facilitate that process if a Doctor were to approve a client for steps to transition (accessing hormones, surgery, etc). We are often required to be consistently seeing a therapist, see medical doctor 2-4 times year, have bloodwork done 2-3 times per year and go to specialist or endure more tests if there is the slightest abnormality in bloodwork for instance. If a trans person seeks other types of services like electrolysis or voice therapy those take multiple, time-consuming visits. As you might imagine most healthcare providers do not specialize in these types of services or may not be culturally competent even though these services are quite necessary for trans people. As a result, even in urban areas like Boston, a transgender person like myself may need to set aside an entire morning or afternoon to account for lengthy appointments across town. Since transgender people tend to make less money than non-transgender people, they may not own a car and may not have a job that allows for paid sick time, but very much require paid sick days in order to afford taking time off for these appointments. These appointments don’t even account for other health issues we may face since transgender people are more vulnerable to experience other negative health outcomes (heart disease, cancer, violence, etc) due to either hormone use or significant stressors and discrimination we endure.
Additionally other unique factors facing transgender people that may necessitate taking time off during the day are issues relating to the desire and/or need to change our name and update that with both public and private agencies. That may only be an option during times when we have work.
As a personal anecdote as I prepare for a major transition-related surgery, I realize just how important paid sick days are. I’m fortunate to work at an organization which offers 2-3 weeks a year of paid sick days which I’ve been able to accrue since my employment. Given huge costs that are often associated with surgeries as well as the typical costs we all have (housing, food and other bills), even if I had the coverage and/or money to fund the surgery, I would be cut off from being able to financially provide for myself during that time. For these reasons I strongly advocate for the needs of paid sick time.