OP Business Division Procedure - Gender Transitioning Guidelines

To be read in conjunction with
Approval Date
20 August 2022
Approved By
Deputy Chief Executive People Culture and Safety
Next Review
20 August 2024
Responsibility
Deputy Chief Executive People Culture and Safety
Purpose

This guide provides information for Otago Polytechnic kaimahi who are transitioning or thinking about transitioning, and their leaders, teams, and those in support roles for kaimahi. It is also for Otago Polytechnic tauira who are transitioning or thinking about transitioning, and their lecturers/facilitators, programme heads, and those in support roles for tauira.

All kaimahi and tauira have the right to express their gender without fear of consequences.

Otago Polytechnic is committed to supporting any kaimahi or tauira who are transitioning and recognise that this is a unique and personal experience.

Definitions

It is commonly understood now that sex, gender, and sexuality are not simply either/or categories. For example, not every person is clearly male or female at birth (intersex people are a naturally occurring aspect of human diversity) and not every person identifies as a man or a woman.

Being transgender (or “trans”), non-binary or gender diverse, are umbrella terms for someone whose gender identity does not exclusively align with their sex assigned at birth or whose gender does not fit within the male/female gender binary.

Gender: The social, and cultural construction of what it means to be a man or a woman, including roles, expectations, and behaviour. Gender is expressed externally through clothing, behaviour, body characteristics and so on. 

Gender identity: A person’s internal, deeply felt sense of being male or female or wherever they find themselves on the gender continuum. A person’s gender identity may or may not correspond with their sex.

Gender expression: The way a person outwardly expresses their gender identity using clothes, language, behaviour, pronouns, etc.

Trans people: People who refer to themselves, among other terms, as transsexual, male-to-female, female-to-male, transgender, whakawahine, fa’afafine or tangata ira tane.

Transgender: Refers to a person whose gender identity is different to the physical sex they were assigned at birth.

Transsexual: A person who has changed, or is in the process of changing, their physical sex to conform to their gender identity. Many people find this term outdated and offensive, and prefer the term transgender, which is more inclusive and affirming.

Cisgender: A person who identifies with the sex and gender they were assigned at birth.

Gender Transitioning (or transitioning): The steps taken by trans people to live as their gender identity.  These steps may be social (e.g., making changes in how they present, changing name, using different pronouns) and/or medical (making changes to their bodies).

For example, a trans person may change their name and use pronouns that match their gender and/or dress in clothing that matches their gender. Sometimes transitioning involves undergoing medical treatment to change one’s body to match one’s gender through hormone therapy and gender reassignment surgeries (sometimes referred to as gender affirming surgeries).

Transitioning is not the same as gender reassignment surgery. Not all transgender people choose to undergo a medical treatment. 

Kaimahi: An individual employed by Otago Polytechnic on a full or part-time basis. 

Tauira: An enrolled learner at Otago Polytechnic who is charged a Learner Health and Counselling levy. 

 

Guidelines

1.0 Kaimahi

1.1 For a kaimahi who is transitioning:

It is your decision who, when and how much you choose to share with people at work.

To support your transition, it can be beneficial to develop a transition plan which might consider:

  • what information you would like to share, who needs to be told and how and when they will be informed.
  • if there is anything that could have an impact on your employment, such as assistance you might require, and the amount of leave you might need to take.
  • a possible timeline for when you would like to: be known by a new name if applicable, referred to by new pronouns, adopt a workplace dress code matching your gender identity, use facilities such as restrooms and changing rooms that match your gender identity or take time off work for medical treatment relating to your transition.
  • You will not be required to provide a Medical Certificate or other similar document about transitioning unless it is required under the Leave Management Policy. Medical transitioning may require you to apply for sick leave. You are not required to give details of any treatment. Information regarding your sick leave is confidential.

 You are encouraged to arrange a meeting with your leader to discuss your transition plan. A member of your whānau, colleague, support person, union representative, or People & Culture Business Partner can support you in this meeting. Otago Polytechnic’s Employee Assistance Programme is available to help you during the process. You may also seek support from internal and/or external LGBTiQ+ communities.

 

1.2. For leaders:

Leaders have a responsibility to support any staff member who is transitioning or intending to transition.

You can do this by:

  • creating an environment of support and respect.
  • allowing the staff member to discuss their experience and transition plan.
  • taking steps to inform yourself and others if gender transitioning and transgender are new to you.
  • providing guidance and support on how best to inform colleagues and/or tauira and community stakeholders.
  • responding to any issues or concerns as they arise.
  • supporting colleagues to use the correct names and pronouns.
  • The concept of gender transitioning might be new to you, so please take appropriate steps to educate yourself about gender transitioning and what it means to be transgender:
         i. Allow the staff member to tell you about their individual experience. 
         ii. Refer to the Working under the Rainbow Resources on Moodle
  • Many people have had little or no experience with trans people. Lead by example to set the correct tone in the workplace. Be respectful, avoid making assumptions about the person, create a comfortable atmosphere, use the correct names and pronouns, and advise colleagues about using the correct names and pronouns
  • Not all trans people will transition medically, or through surgery. The immediate medical needs of a staff member who is intending to transition are most likely to be for counselling appointments or to see a medical specialist. Any leave should be treated with the utmost confidentiality and the same as any other medical appointments. Staff members may use their entitled sick leave where necessary
  • You should not ask the staff member to provide you with a Medical Certificate, or any other similar documentation about their transitioning unless it is required for a sick leave application
  • Maintaining confidentiality is critical, so avoid disclosing your staff member’s transgender status prematurely and without permission. Be open-minded and demonstrate understanding. The transition plan will help you to determine how best to communicate the staff member’s transition to their colleagues and/or tauira.

 

1.3. Developing a Transitioning Plan

Communication

  • Who is going to be informed? For example, colleagues and tauira.
  • How are they going to be informed? For example, by email or at a meeting. Will there be one announcement,, or several?
  • What information is going to be disclosed? This needs to be very clearly agreed to by the transitioning staff member 
  • What information is to be kept confidential? This could be to just the staff member, or just the staff member and the manager 
  • Who is going to make the announcement? For example, the staff member, their manager, or another person
  • When will any announcement take place and how will it be phrased? The person who is transitioning must always be consulted before an announcement is made
  • How does the staff member want to manage any ongoing communication? For example, at different stages of their transition, or in relation to different work tasks/cycles (e.g.,. at the commencement of each semester)?

Timeframes

  • Transitioning is a unique and personal experience, and timeframes need to be flexible based on each person’s specific needs.
  • It would be useful to document the dates or timeframes around when the staff member will:
    assume their gender at work (e.g. be known by their new name, referred to by new pronouns, etc.).
         ii. adopt a workplace dress code to match their gender.
         iii. start to use facilities which match their gender.
         iv. need to take time off work for medical treatments relating to their transition, if necessary, or to attend to any other matters directly associated with their transition
  • Institutional records that will need to be updated
  • Any other matters that need addressing, such as additional support required by the staff member and/or immediate team members

 

1.4. Updating Otago Polytechnic records

A full legal name is required for all systems and documentation authenticated by Otago Polytechnic and for government entities, for example, Inland Revenue, and qualification certificates and transcripts.

Gender, Title, and Preferred First Name can be changed at any time through ME@OP > My Details > Personal.

Your Legal Name can be changed through Payroll (email payroll@op.ac.nz) by providing supporting documentation of a legal name change. This will automatically update other Otago Polytechnic systems.

Contact People and Culture (email peopleandculture@op.ac.nz) if you have a specific name request for use on internal systems and/or your Staff ID card.

 

2. Tauira

2.1 For tauira who is transitioning:

It is your decision who, when and how much you choose to share with people at Otago Polytechnic.

To support your transition, you may wish to develop a transition plan which might consider:

  • what information you would like to share, who needs to be told and how and when they will be informed.
  • if there is anything that could have an impact on your study, such as assistance you might require, and the amount of leave you might need to take.
  • a possible timeline for when you would like to: be known by a new name if applicable, referred to by new pronouns, adopt a dress code matching your gender identity, use facilities such as restrooms and changing rooms that match your gender identit, or take time off study for medical treatment relating to your transition.
  • If you are intending to undergo a medical transition where you will be absent from your programme for a period of time, you will be required to provide supporting medical documentation. You are expected to discuss your reason for absence with your lecturer/facilitator, at which stage your options in the programme will be discussed. Factors such as the length of programme, the timing of the academic year and any assessment period will be considered as part of this discussion. All conversations will be confidential to the parties concerned.

You are encouraged to arrange a meeting with your lecturer/facilitator to discuss your transition plan. A member of your whānau, support person, OPSA representative, or Student Success advocate can support you in this meeting. You may also seek support from internal and/or external LGBTiQ+ communities.

 

2.2. For lecturers/facilitators:

Lectures/facilitators can support any tauira who is transitioning or intending to transition by:

  • creating an environment of support and respect.
  • allowing the tauira to discuss their experience and transition plan.
  • taking steps to inform yourself and others if gender transitioning and transgender are new to you.
  • providing guidance and support on how best to inform teaching staff and/or tauira and community stakeholders.
  • responding to any issues or concerns as they arise.
  • supporting other tauira to use the correct names and pronouns.
  • The concept of gender transitioning might be new to you, so please take appropriate steps to educate yourself about gender transitioning and what it means to be transgender:
         i. Allow the tauira to tell you about their individual experience. 
         ii. Refer to the Working under the Rainbow Resources on Moodle
  • Many people have had little or no experience with trans people. Lead by example to set the correct tone in the learning environment. Be respectful, avoid making assumptions about the person, create a comfortable atmosphere, use the correct names and pronouns, and advise others about using the correct names and pronouns
  • Not all trans people will transition medically, or through surgery. The immediate medical needs of a tauira who is intending to transition are most likely to be for counselling appointments or to see a medical specialist. Any absence should be treated with the utmost confidentiality and the same as any other medical appointment.
  • Maintaining confidentiality is critical, so avoid disclosing your tauira transgender status prematurely and without permission. Be open-minded and demonstrate understanding. The transition plan will help you to determine how best to communicate the tauira transition to their lecturers/facilitators and/or tauira

2.3. Developing a Transitioning Plan

Information about what might be included in a Transitioning Plan can be found in Section 1.3 and adapted for your purposes.

 

2.4. Updating Otago Polytechnic records

A full legal name is required for all systems and documentation authenticated by Otago Polytechnic and for government entities, for example, on the National Student Index (NSI), and qualification certificates and transcripts.

At the point of application, and throughout your time at Otago Polytechnic, you can set your Known As (or preferred) first name if this varies from your legal name. Your student ID card can use your Known As the first name.

Your Legal Name can be changed on our systems by providing certified evidence of a legal name change.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

Resources

Resources

Approved by

Approved by

Deputy Chief Executive: People, Culture and Safety

Laura Warren

20/8/2022 

 

Version 1.