The National Center for Transgender Equality honored SEIU this month with the Community Partner Award for our union's "outstanding efforts to expand access to healthcare for transgender people."
In 2011, SEIU updated our employee healthcare benefits to provide transgender-inclusive health benefits to all International staff and their dependents. Following this success, at SEIU's 25th Convention earlier this year, SEIU members unanimously voted to include trans-inclusive healthcare in contract bargaining.
These measures to protect SEIU members and staff from discrimination on the basis of gender identity are part of our union's efforts to ensure that all people are treated with dignity and fairness in the workplace and in our society.
Transgender people face significant challenges to healthcare access, in part because most public and private health insurance plans have discriminatory exclusions for transgender-related care that is often used to exclude virtually all care. SEIU is proud to fight this discrimination and stand in solidarity with our allies in the LGBT rights movement.
At an awards reception on December 5, NCTE Executive Director Mara Keisling praised SEIU's work and called for continued collaboration between unions and LGBT rights advocates. Her comment that "workers' rights are trans rights, and trans rights are workers' rights" drew applause from the crowd as she introduced the award.
Lauree Hayden, a senior staffer working on LGBTQ-labor intersections and part of the group who worked toward these trans-inclusive healthcare victories, accepted the award for SEIU. Hayden acknowledged transgender SEIU members in the crowd, including Lavender Caucus member and founder of the Transgender Caucus Gabriel Haaland. She spoke of "the lie of division", how the 1% divide us against ourselves in order to distract the 99% from our collective work for justice, and our need to unite in common purpose.