Trans civil servants granted 20 days 'transition leave' by city of Ghent

Ghent will now offer 20 days of leave to trans civil servants undergoing the transition process, De Standaard reports on Wednesday. The leave can be used for psychological counselling or doctor's appointments, among other things. This time can also be requested for consultations about surgical procedures, but not for the surgical procedures and recovery period, which must be arranged through standard sick leave.

The city will require a certificate from the healthcare provider as proof, and the leave may not be used if the appointment takes place outside office hours. The 20 days can be taken at any point in the process of transitioning.

"Everyone should be able to feel safe and recognised at work"

Ghent has approximately 7,000 civil servants, 125 of whom identified as LGBTI in an anonymous survey. "Everyone should be able to feel safe and recognised at work," says Hafsa El-Bazioui (Groen), Ghent councillor responsible for personnel issues. "These actions contribute to that."

El-Bazioui denied that the 20 "extra" days of leave was discrimination against non-transgender people. "No, this is simply an inclusive personnel policy," she said. "These people will not receive any additional rights, but they will receive support. In this way, we support them during their transition." Transgender adults are five times more likely to attempt suicide than straight, cis peers, studies find.

"The objective is a more open organisational culture, for all forms of diversity and therefore also for these employees"

"A gender identity is not a choice," says El-Bazioui. "For trans and non-binary people, a transition is often necessary, and we want to pursue an open and inclusive policy on this. The objective is a more open organisational culture, for all forms of diversity and therefore also for these employees."

The city of Ghent has been striving for greater gender equality and gender neutrality for some time. When the rainbow flag flies at the town hall, there is always an intersex flag next to it. In addition, every application for job vacancies uses m/f/x and has done so for years.

New public toilets in the city have been gender-neutral by default for several years. Additionally, official emails always state which pronouns apply to the sender: he/his, she/her, they/their, for example.

El-Bazioui says gender issues should be discussed in the workplace. “If there are any questions, we will discuss them. For example, we will never just install gender-inclusive sanitary facilities without discussing it beforehand with all colleagues, both those who are in favour and colleagues who have questions."


#FlandersNewsService | © ALLISON DINNER / AFP

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