Gender Identity Discrimination in New York City

The New York City legislation on gender identity discrimination is exemplary. Here is the guidance from the NYC Commission on Human Rights.

Breitbart, a Poe’s Law website, claimed that NYC Will Fine You $250,000 For ‘Misgendering’ A Transsexual. Perhaps the author does not understand the concept of a maximum penalty. Note the scare quotes around misgendering: the arrogant fool thinks he knows my gender better than I do. They had over 3000 comments, which may be more than the number of trans women in New York; but they do not see how liberating this law is.

Discrimination is forbidden in employment, housing and “public accommodations”, that is, facilities used by the public, such as retail stores, rental establishments, educational institutions, recreational facilities and service centres. Gender is defined as one’s “actual or perceived sex and shall also include a person’s gender identity, self-image, appearance, behavior or expression, whether or not that gender identity, self-image, appearance, behavior or expression is different from that traditionally associated with the legal sex assigned to that person at birth.”

Whereas in Britain only those who intend to transition permanently are protected, in NYC all people are protected. Discrimination is forbidden on the basis of gender expression: so everyone can express ourselves in any way, and discrimination may be punished. Conventional gender expression is abolished, so a restaurant cannot require that men wear ties.

The maximum penalty is $125,000 for a violation, and $250,000 for a violation that is wilful, wanton or malicious. The amount of the penalty is affected by
* The severity of the particular violation;
* The existence of previous or subsequent violations;
* The employer’s size, considering both the total number of employees and its revenue; and
* The employer’s actual or constructive knowledge of the NYCHRL.

Prohibited discrimination has occurred whenever there is disparate treatment of an individual on account of gender. Harassment occurs in a culture or atmosphere of sex stereotyping, degradation, humiliation, bias, or objectification. Misgendering is harassment, and where an employee chooses a gender-neutral pronoun such as “zie”, the employer should use it. We can choose our names, without any formal, legal name change.

We can use single-sex facilities consistent with our gender. A transgender woman may use a woman’s shelter. We cannot be required to prove our gender: our own self-definition is enough. Barring us on the supposition that we will make others uncomfortable is unlawful: so we can be excluded for our acts, but not because of others’ fears.

An individual’s assessment of their own safety should be a primary consideration. So we should be allowed to use a bathroom for the sex assigned at birth if we want.

Sex stereotyping is unlawful, and that liberates everyone. Everyone can express gender as they wish. Men may wear jewellery. Expectations of how an individual represents or communicates gender to others, such as behavior, clothing, hairstyle, activities, voice, mannerisms, or body characteristics may not be enforced.

Employee health insurance must include transgender care. Employers should accommodate our needs around transition, such as time off for treatment.

Any action likely to deter individuals from exercising their rights, or assisting another to exercise rights, is unlawful retaliation.

This law is a step to abolishing patriarchy. All people may express gender as they wish. Gender ceases to be norms and expectations to curb people, and becomes a palette of infinite self-expression, creativity and freedom.

I am grateful to Breitbart for drawing my attention to this. Consider what the enemies fear, and rejoice!

John Martin, the Plains of Heaven featured

Ministering at YM

I sat next to a woman and said, “Hello, I’m Clare”. She said, “Yes, I know. I’ve seen you speak twice already.”

Probably it’s the long blonde hair. Richard said “You’re looking very glam”. Well, what do you expect? I had other compliments. Or perhaps it is the depth of what I said, or how memorable it was. I was drawn to my feet, and on the question of “Living our faith in the world” I spoke first. After, I thought even if what I said was completely wrong, it was absorbed and transformed in the ministry after, one of the themes running through the music.

I am sufficiently clear that it was Ministry, even though I could not rationally argue that. I never can. I can only rely on the feelings. I spoke of that exercise of Jamie Catto, where we shouted our anger as at a pantomime villain. I said I want the energy of that anger. I am not sure I want to judge it too carefully. I am not sure how to word this, even now: I want to respond, and not be fighting my own responses, or too fearful of them.

I spoke first. Thinking about it now, after several sessions and many hours on “Living our faith in the world” I feel abashed. The idea of the anger, and the pantomime baddie, echoed through following ministry. One spoke of Samson: righteous anger brings destruction, for Samson and his enemies.

-We need sight and light to use strength and anger.
-Do we need spaces to shout our anger? Paint, write, dance, and sit in silence for discernment to bring intelligence and understanding to light.
-We are right to feel anger at the unequal society. One root of pain and wrong is the idea that people are motivated by money. Society emphasises competition not respect and love, and so not the whole of human nature.

At that point, I wondered whether I was moved, and thought, it is a foolish question. Then I thought, that answer dodges my responsibility. All I can say is I was drawn to my feet.

-Jesus was not afraid of righteous anger, but he used it exceedingly sparingly. Forgive, and pray for enemies. I have been a pantomime baddie, with judgemental thoughts and harsh notions: I forgive myself, for that is part of the human condition. We must uphold and support baddies, such as paedophiles and terrorists. I am a baddie: please do not turn your anger on me, as it would break me (she said). See if you can find a way of loving me. Pray for me.

 No-one sins in awareness.

-The roots of wrong are the prevalent destructive, corrosive attitudes. Prejudices divide us. So many people are poor and excluded. We must encourage society to let in those who are waiting outside.

-The spiritual roots are in us, in others, and congealed in institutions.

-To face the principalities and powers, we need connections and collaboration.

This is only part of the Ministry, that part most relevant to my own. They are my notes, so I have missed bits. Mine was an extreme position. No-one fully agreed with me, especially not about not judging the anger- though we were counselled that if we merely agreed, we should not speak, as this is not a popularity contest. Yet I feel what I said had value, and added to the complexity and eventual beauty. Through our exercise, we came to a beautiful minute. With other things, the exercise led me to my spiritual experience on Monday morning.

In the moment

File:Fuseli - Macbeth and the Witches.jpgAs we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

More improvisation games.

Now we pass the energy to each other, across the circle, carrying something. It may be heavy, or wriggly and difficult to hold, or tiny and precious, and It changes for each person. Each mime is a new creative act. Planning ahead, it would be a small furry thing to cuddle, pet and stroke, but when Dick goo-goos at a small fluffy being, caressing it, and passes it to me, I must do something more. I gently put it down on the floor, and blow on it, and mime that it is growing, then I lead it over to someone else to pass it on.

At the start of the day- we sit in a circle, light a candle, and close our eyes, and Claire speaks to us hypnotically. Saturday, I am with it immediately, I feel present and relaxed. Sunday, I am distracted, ruminating, and still not clear what the difference is. That mime feels good. It feels right, and it popped into consciousness seeming full-formed- but I am not sure what else could happen. It seems my conscious mind could only censor it, but possibly the edit/censor process is unconscious too. It only becomes problematic and uncomfortable when the inspiration and the censorship war, with no clear winner.

dsc05130-2And sometimes it feels right with other people, sometimes it does not. Three of us improvise a short scene: one massages my shoulders, the other comes in, there is a veiled confrontation and she starts massaging my shoulders. Of course I enjoyed that. It was lovely. It communicated to the audience, but I think it luck rather than some mystic Inspiration; and inspiration strikes where with practice we learn what works.

Much of our work is on Macbeth. First we think ourselves into these characters: Macbeth, Malcolm, Duncan, Lady Macbeth, Macduff. Then we improvise scenes with them.

File:Macbeth consulting the Vision of the Armed Head.jpgSomeone objected that these are dark, violent characters, but for me my fear of my shadow is the problem: embodying “bad” characters is the way to relax that fear. I have the capacity to act well, and I can relax those inhibitions created in childhood, that there are Bad responses which must not be allowed. As an adult I can create better responses to my reactions than to suppress them. To release the suppression, I have a safe, playful space to be Bad.

We play the scenes. As many of us as wish can play one character: at one point we have three Lady Macbeths surrounding Macbeth and goading him. About half of us play witches: Children and adults can play witches at Hallowe’en, there are places to “let your hair down” and play with darker impulses, other than here.

I also played Macbeth murdering the King. After, I had a toy witch’s broom, and I paced the floor to one side while Macduff and Malcolm plotted against me elsewhere. I shook the broom to symbolise my increasing stress and desperation, until it fell to pieces scattering bristles over the floor. A beautiful symbol I could not have planned. After this, being “killed” by the rebels was a relief.

Comment policy II

Something is wrong on the Internet

Vittorio_Reggianini_1858-1938_Music_scene 2Why is blogging addictive? I am desolate to see Violet joining Bloggers Anonymous, but as she says, will I have a shower or rant at this wrong person, will I go for a walk or lurk on this blog, will I have nap or check my reader? Blog wins at every turn – I smell and am very tired

I went from there to put a comment on a blog saying homosexuality is sin. The usual stuff: you quote Leviticus, do you really want us dead; on the Pastoral Epistles, what do you think of Cretans? Golly, it makes the endorphins flow. My righteous indignation rears up at this poor silly woman who mouths the brain-rot she has been fed since childhood. Ha. That’s her told.

It is far more difficult to comment on Freya. She writes worthwhile things here, and I want to reciprocate. How can I say something intelligent to someone I admire? Far easier to mock homophobes.

My colleague nearly got sacked for her compulsive use of facebook, Vittorio_Reggianini_1858-1938_Music_scene 1which I got sniffy at, not using facebook at the time. She was redundant in the next round of funding cuts. Now I use facebook, and see all these videos. This one, for example, shared by two friends: it is moving, it makes a necessary point well, and it gives me a shiver of distaste at the World, without either arming or motivating me to do anything about it. That and the documentary on factories in Bangladesh make me miserable- too strong meat for addiction.

I am sorry that spEak you’re bRanes is defunct. While the comments it mocked were badly expressed, and stated opinions I found repulsive, for the most part, it was mocking what I do: expressing anger into the ether, then excitedly clicking to see if there is a response. I do real human interactions with people I will see again, needing frontal lobe activity, and I do angry or mocking billets aigre to homophobes in Texas, giving instant satisfaction with minimal cost. It is obvious which I prefer, and why,

So, I sit myself down for a serious chat. By all means seek to establish internet relationships with attractive and intelligent people, but stop ranting. If my forefinger is sore from friction burns on the mouse-pad of my lap-top (a moment’s googling taught me a new word- it is a “touchpad”) then I spend too much time with it. For peace of mind, resign as general manager of the Universe- worrying about problems I cannot solve is a seductive distraction from the problems I must address. Yes, recently in one day I got seven times the page views of two days previously for some reason, but checking the stats page several times a day does no good.

I probably won’t work this blog up to a huge circulation by commenting, or liking, and certainly not following. I have no idea how many of my 592 followers get my posts by email.

File:John Martin Le Pandemonium Louvre.JPG


John Martin - Sodom and Gomorrah

There are people for whom there is no shared love- all we can taste of happiness is that simulacrum which has been granted me at one of those unique moments when a woman’s kindness, or her caprice, or chance, applies to our desires, in a perfect coincidence, the same words and the same actions as if we had been truly loved. 

Proust calls lesbians “Citizens of Gomorrah”.

The Marquise de Vagoubert is married to a man, but “wears the trousers” in the relationship, her husband being the feminine type who wants a man. Perhaps she was always a man, or perhaps she acquired mannish characteristics to please her husband. The narrator despises her, “the charmless effigy of the virtues that the husband ought to be practising”. Perhaps Charlotte Elisabeth de BaviĂšre, sister in law of King Louis XIV, was of the same type.

The narrator suspects his lover, Albertine, of lesbianism. The real person the character of Albertine is supposedly based on was a man, but whichever way it appears, the suspicion that ones lover is attracted to the sex I am not is painful.  The narrator remembers the time before his suspicions were aroused, and the suspicion poisons the memories. She is not as devoted to him, nor as desperate to spend time with him, as she avers. But then he watches her waltz with her friend AndrĂ©e, and Dr Cottard comments that their breasts are touching. He shares his medical expertise: “They’re certainly at the height of arousal. It’s not sufficiently well known that it’s chiefly through the breasts that women experience it.”

The comment brings on jealousy in the narrator- could they be lovers? Albertine laughs, and suddenly this is evidence they are- but the full poison of the suspicion takes time to grow in him. The pain of it is so great that he is not conscious of all of it at first. Then Albertine protests how much she wishes to be with him, but she cannot- and lies about where she will go. He is desperate to catch her out, even to following her. Jealousy inflames his emotional slavery.

Any allusion to lesbianism is an affront to Albertine. There is nothing she finds more disgusting. “We haven’t reached the age we are without seeing women with short hair, who have mannish ways and are of the kind you say, and nothing revolts us as much.” That “We” is Albertine and AndrĂ©e: AndrĂ©e’s denials refer to the same “We”. Then there is the incident where a notorious lesbian passes, and Albertine stares at her, then denies any interest at all.

In the same way, now, in the 21st century, I do not associate with other trans women. We do not want to draw attention to ourselves.

My mother’s best friend at the hospital, before she married, was Bess, later known to me as Aunty Bess. I am unsure when she started living with her friend Marian: when I was eight we moved to Argyll, and saw Aunty Bess rarely. They got the Daily Record, a tabloid we despised, and once the subject of the “Page 3 girls” came up. “I think they look at it,” said my father- he sounded distressed rather than disgusted. That is the only allusion I can remember to them being a couple, indeed it is possible that they really were two female friends who happened to share a house because it was convenient to do so.

Now, I want a partner, specifically a woman, who will take a- what? How to describe it? A male, masculine, butch role in such a relationship- I have no idea how that might happen, and how I despise myself for it! Not a man, not a woman-

If only I wanted something else!

I might have it!

“Often, when two girls felt desire for one another, there was produced something like a phenomenon of light, a sort of trail of phosphorescence leading from one to the other.”

The narrator is now entirely preoccupied with Gomorrah- or Sapphism, Lesbianism, woman’s love for woman, call it what you will- and his jealousy of Albertine. Mlle Bloch and her actress-partner live together openly, and now appear in the hotel flagrantly making out together. The decent people complain to the manager, but Mlle Bloch’s gay uncle has corrupted him, and he does nothing about the outrage. So they carry on, even more publicly.

There is a beautiful young woman with eyes like stars, whose gaze, like a lighthouse, does not leave Albertine. Albertine, however, studiously ignores her. Later this girl sees Mlle Bloch, walks over, and without a word their legs and hands intertwine. Her husband is discomposed.

Albertine eventually gets the narrator’s jealousy of other women to cease, simply by flirting with his friend Robert de Saint-Loup. He had the innocence of those people who believe that one taste necessarily excludes the other.

John Martin

The Plains of Heaven

When I was a child, we visited my grandparents in outer London for a fortnight every Summer, and I would be taken round the Science Museum and the Tate Gallery. I got from my father the lesson that Culture needs effort to understand it, and is worth that effort, and often I would think that is true. Bach violin partitas, initially unlistenable for me, on repeated exposure became captivating and wonderful.

The Great Day of His Wrath

In my early teens, bored in the Tate, I came across John Martin for the first time, and I was captivated immediately.

The Last Judgment

There is an exhibition of his works at Tate Britain until 15 January. I was captivated, particularly, by those suspended huge boulders, just starting to fall, in “The Great Day of His Wrath”. Of course a huge amount of painting invites the imagination to show what happens next, but this was my introduction to that. I had an instant, visceral response to the armies of Gog and Magog and the Whore of Babylon in “The Last Judgment”. I found “The Plains of Heaven” comparatively uninteresting, though I began to notice beauty in it: it was something worth looking at, not just something I looked at because I was told to.

The paintings are about two metres by three, though in my memory they are much bigger than that, overwhelming panels the size of a wall, to match their emotional impact. I read that in the current exhibition they are illuminated a part at a time, with a commentary and music, in a fifteen minute show. The original viewers, before Cinema, would have seen them in even lighting on gallery walls and been invited, as I was, into an immediate mental drama, as the eye takes in the armies in steam trains, the Great Gulf Fixed, the zigzag lightning and oceans of lava.

I am not aware of the context, but now as my eye moves round The Last Judgment taking in Jesus’ return in glory, the angel with the Trumpet, the blessed, I think of Kandinsky and early Joan Miro with separate subjects in one painting, in relationship but no longer in one perspective.