We are pleased to announce that we are now accepting applications for reimbursement through CUPE 3906’s first-ever Gender Affirmation Fund. We’d like to thank our sister Locals like CUPE 3902 and CUPE 4600, who have led the charge in providing benefits like these to academic workers at U of T and Carleton, respectively. Their own Trans Funds served as great examples after which we could model our own Gender Affirmation Fund. Many thanks, also, to the trans and nonbinary members of CUPE 3906 who assisted in the creation of this fund and the relevant application materials. Your input has been invaluable to ensuring that the Gender Affirmation Fund addresses the needs of those for whom this benefit is intended.
See below for a detailed overview of the Gender Affirmation Fund, including eligibility criteria and instructions on how to apply. The required claim form can be found here.
WHAT IS THE GENDER AFFIRMATION FUND?
The Gender Affirmation Fund is a pool of money that was won by the CUPE 3906 Unit 1 bargaining team (representing TAs and RAs in-lieu at McMaster) in their most recent round of collective bargaining with the Employer. Now protected in Article 21 of the Collective Agreement, the Gender Affirmation Fund provides a total of $10,000 per year to help offset the costs involved with various elements of affirming one’s gender. The fund is officially defined by the Employer as a “supplemental benefits fund” that the Union can use “for supplementing benefits entitlements of employees or related purposes as determined by CUPE.” To this end, the Union has committed to dedicating the entirety of these $10,000 annual lump sum payments to supplemental benefits for our Two Spirit, trans, and nonbinary members. Put simply, the purpose of this fund is to help offset the costs associated with gender affirmation – including everyday, medical, administrative, legal, and other expenses.
WHO CAN ACCESS THIS FUND?
Any member of CUPE Local 3906, Unit 1 (TAs and Ras in-lieu) who identifies as Two Spirit, trans, or nonbinary.
HOW MUCH MONEY COULD I GET?
Given that the total amount of money in the fund ($10,000 per year) that we have to work with is still rather modest, there are limits on how much money any individual member can access. There are over 2 600 Unit 1 members who may be eligible for the fund, and we want to be as equitable as possible and need to balance a meaningful contribution to each person who needs to access the fund, while simultaneously ensuring that there is money in the fund when folks need it.
To this end, in March 2021, the benefits committee voted to increase the annual cap per member to $2000/academic year (September – August), while the lifetime cap is set at $4000. This allows for as many as five members per year to access the fund. We hope to increase these caps through future rounds of collective bargaining.
**please note, the PDF application form (below) still lists the previous entitlement amount of $1250 per year/$2500 max. Our benefits committee has since increased the amounts to better reflect usage- we will update the PDF form once we are back in the office**
WHO ADMINISTERS THIS FUND?
In an effort to protect your confidentiality and make this fund available ASAP, all applications will go directly to our third-party benefits administrator, the Prosure Group, for review. We do hope to create a Gender Affirmation Fund Steering Committee in future years, through which Two Spirit, trans, and nonbinary people will adjudicate the applications; however, to create and rely on such a committee right now – in the context of COVID-19 – would likely cause further delays in getting these funds to our members.
Should the folks at Prosure have questions regarding your application, they may reach out to you directly for clarification. Other concerns may be relayed to our Equity Officer and Benefits Committee without the applicant’s name attached. We have a strong working relationship with Prosure and have brought our account representatives up to speed on the single criterion for eligible expenses, which is explained below.
WHAT COUNTS AS AN ELIGIBLE EXPENSE?
The financial costs associated with gender affirmation can vary greatly from person to person. That being said, the Union holds an expansive, open definition of what constitutes gender affirmation. There is no predetermined list of eligible or ineligible expenses for reimbursement through this Gender Affirmation Fund. Rather, the fund is intentionally designed to make accessible forms of gender affirmation that are often limited by the strict requirements of OHIP, the CRA, and other employment-based or public forms of funding for Two Spirit, trans, and nonbinary people. The only requirement is that the cost(s) for which you are seeking reimbursement be incurred for the purpose of affirming your gender identity, however you so choose. We have included some examples for your information below, but again, we wish to emphasize that this list is by no means exhaustive. If you are a Two Spirit, trans, or nonbinary Unit 1 member of CUPE 3906 and wish to seek reimbursement for an expense that is not listed below but was nonetheless incurred as a means of affirming your gender identity, we would strongly encourage you to submit an application.
Some examples of eligible expenses include:
(1) Everyday purchases associated with gender affirmation, such as:
– new wardrobe
(2) Medical procedures, pharmaceuticals, and therapies associated with gender affirmation, especially those not sufficiently covered under the member’s existing health and public insurance plan(s). For example:
– gender-affirming surgeries
– hormone replacement therapy (H.R.T.) prescriptions
– fertility treatments
– resilience therapy/gender counselling
– voice/speech therapy
– laser/other forms of hair removal
– For Two Spirit members, this might also include supports accessed through community Elders and traditional medicines (e.g. participation in Two Spirit gatherings, and related travel costs).
(3) Administrative costs associated with changing one’s legal name and/or listed gender marker through the required government channels, and reissuing any official documentation/forms of identification to reflect said change(s). Examples of documentation for re-issue may include, but are not exclusive to:
– health cards
– driver’s licenses
– debit and credit cards
– academic documents (diplomas, transcripts, awards, etc.)
(4) Costs incurred as a result of transphobic/transmisogynist violences. For example:
– moving expenses
– legal funds and advice
(5) Procedures for body dysmorphia
- body sculpting
- fat reduction in chest
HOW DO I APPLY FOR REIMBURSEMENT THROUGH THE GENDER AFFIRMATION FUND?
By filling out THIS FORM (please note that, as per above, the yearly limit is $2,000 per member, not the $1,250 listed on this form). All applications must include the completed form with the applicant’s signature, as well as any supporting documentation specified therein (e.g. receipts or invoices). You should then submit your complete application package, ideally as a single document, by email to email@example.com.
You may also send a hard copy of your application to the Prosure Group via mail; however, email applications are preferred and likely to be processed faster given the circumstances of COVID-19. Should you choose to apply by mail, the address is below:
THE PROSURE GROUP
2225 Sheppard Avenue East 1400, Atria III
IF MY CLAIM IS ACCEPTED, HOW WILL I GET MY MONEY?
Either by mailed cheque or by direct deposit. Should you choose direct deposit, be sure to submit the additional required paperwork described on the claim form.
QUESTIONS, CONCERNS, SUGGESTIONS, OR OTHER COMMENTS?
Email us! This is our first time offering the Gender Affirmation Fund and we welcome all feedback, particularly from Two Spirit, trans, and nonbinary people. You can reach our Equity Action Officer at firstname.lastname@example.org. Where applicable, your feedback will then be relayed to our Benefits Committee and/or the Prosure Group.