Leah McCabe - CQU Branch Vice-President (General Staff)
Hi Friends - Trans Day of Visibility is observed annually on 31 March, and this year I was honoured to celebrate it by launching gender transition guides for staff and students. The guides include step-by-step information on how to change one's name and gender marker in CQU and Government systems (including documentation requirements), support available to trans and gender-diverse staff and students, and contact details for accessing gender-affirming healthcare in regional Queensland. I hope that the guides prove useful to other trans and gender-diverse members of the University community, and that through them I can further the cause of trans liberation in my own small way.
It's difficult to sum up, but I also wanted to take the opportunity here to share what being part of the NTEU has meant to me on a personal level as a trans person. Our former Branch Organiser, Angela, was the second person I ever came out to after my wife, and it was a great comfort to me knowing that I had the support of the union in dealing with any potential pushback or issues in the workplace when I came out publicly. Thankfully it all went amazingly, so I like to think the preparation paid off :)
In a broader sense I'm also grateful for my experiences as a unionist in shaping how I went about such a fraught and important undertaking as workplace gender transition. I was keenly aware that my greatest asset was the strength of the relationships I had already built with colleagues over almost a decade here, and so in the months prior to coming out publicly I had dozens of one-on-one conversations with workmates, supervisors and others. Slowly I built a collective network of support around me, until I felt I was in an unassailable position and was ready to come out publicly. Although I wasn't thinking in these terms at the time, when I described the way I went about things to another NTEU organiser she remarked that it sounded like a union organising campaign, which in hindsight felt very apt!
Finally, I would be remiss in not mentioning the NTEU's queer caucus, QUTE - Queer Unionists in Tertiary Education. Being able to connect with other queer university workers has been absolutely life-giving, and there are some aspects of who I am now and my presentation in the world which I can directly attribute to my spending time among other amazing and inspiring trans women in QUTE's monthly meetings. The QUTE Facebook group has also been an invaluable resource for me in doing what I can to improve things for other queer people at CQU (like the transition guides), and I'm incredibly excited about QUTE's campaign for gender affirmation leave in enterprise agreements around the country, which we are also fighting for here at CQU during the current round of bargaining.
These days I live a life that was once literally beyond my wildest dreams, and I know that the NTEU has played a huge role in that. Proud to be me, and proud to be union!