I’ve been away from WordPress all week, and today I have a lot of housecleaning to do. But I have just enough time in my day to give a few quick updates from my end. This past week marked one month since I took on my new work assignment. There was a little bit of a false start, and the work volume has seen its peaks and valleys, but I seem to have picked up on the tasks quite well. That doesn’t mean I don’t have my share of questions to ask. Matter of fact, most everyone on the team I’m assigned to, newbies and veterans alike, have their fair share questions. So, twice every day our team gathers to ask and answer those questions. Guidance and collaboration are pretty cool things in the professional life.
On the first Monday of every October, per law and tradition, the United States Supreme Court reconvenes after its summer recess and begins a new session of important cases. In every annual session, the Supremes listen to important arguments and make even more important decisions on laws and regulations that affect all of our lives. This coming Monday (October 7) will be no different. The Supremes will gather again, gavel the session to order, and entertain arguments in cases they agreed to hear.
The next day (October 8), the Supremes will hear not one but three cases involving LGBT+ rights, and whether an employer can fire or discriminate someone because of their sexual or gender identity. Germane to this post is one of those cases that, as The Guardian recently reported, will be “the first Supreme Court case involving the civil rights of transgender people,” as well as “the most important LGBTQ rights case” the high court has taken up since it ruled in favor of marriage equality in 2015.
The plaintiff is Aimee Stevens, who The Guardian describes as “modest, quietly spoken but full of steely resolve.” Until 2013, Stevens worked as a funeral home director in Michigan. By then, she had already begun transitioning to and identifying as female. When she came out as trans to her devoutly religious boss, she lost her job.
Rather than take 21 days of severance from the funeral home, and with it sign away any right to take legal action, Stevens took the funeral home to court. A series of lower court decisions ended with a victory for Stevens.
However, the funeral home boss, with backing of conservative groups as well as the U.S. Department of Justice, has appealed the case to the Supreme Court. As indicated in court documents, the boss fired Stevens because she “no longer wanted to represent himself as a man” and “wanted to dress as a woman,” leading to a “violation” of funeral home dress codes. A classic case of mis-gendering right there, not only on the part of Stevens’ ex-employer, but also the DOJ, who chose not to identify her by any gender pronouns in an August court filing.
The law involved here is Title VII of of the Civil Rights Act, which prevents people from being discriminated against on the basis of sex. Stevens’ lawyers argue that Title VII should also prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual/gender identity. The boss’ backers argue that “redefining sex discrimination will cause problems in employment law,” and that “recognizing the rights of Stevens and other trans women will make cis-gender women unsafe.” That’s a bunch of hooey, of course: Lots of studies have proven that cis people are not endangered by trans-inclusive rules and policies.
For sure, the thought that a now conservative-leaning supreme court would rule in favor of anti-trans discrimination should make you worry. But as The Guardian notes in its article (again, here’s the link), cis-gender people could be adversely affected if the high court rules against Stevens. In 1989, the high court ruled against Price Waterhouse after it denied a partnership position to a women the company deemed “too aggressive” and “manly.” In other words, a ruling against Stevens would give employers carte blanche to discriminate against employees simply because said employees may not adhere to a prescribed stereotypical gender definition. That includes not just the plumbing downstairs, but also outward appearance and comportment.
So no matter who you are or how you identify, please pay close attention to the arguments on Tuesday in Aimee Stevens case at the Supreme Court. Lives and livelihoods will be on the line. So will respect and decency toward the entire LGBT+ community.
(Oh, and after you’ve read that Guardian article, please take time to listen to Aimee Stevens’ own words in this op-ed for Out magazine.)
As I’ve mentioned more than once on here, I’m one who loves to actually shop for clothes in person. That is, I actually like getting out of the house, going to the mall, perusing through the racks, and tell the clerk to [da-da-da duh da-daaah] “CHARGE IT!” when I find something that will have the right look and fit on me.
And for the longest time (well, at least the last decade), one of my favorite go-to stores has been here:
That is the West Towne Mall location of Forever 21. Founded as Fashion 21 in 1984, the chain has become in recent years one of the biggest names in the world of “fast fashion.” For those unfamiliar with that term, it applies to articles of clothing that are eye catching, perhaps resembling outfits seen only on the Paris catwalks, that a retailer will not only be priced reasonably but also be available for a limited time. In other words, create the product and generate the demand. Continue reading
There’s a little something I didn’t include in my summary of the OutReach Magic Festival, which occurred two weekends ago, but wanted to talk up in a separate post. Don’t be alarmed, for it was a relatively minor thing. Matter of fact, it’s something that felt peculiar to me initially, yet I find myself thinking about it quite a lot.
Last weekend was the third weekend of August, one in which Madison’s LGBT+ community celebrates and puts on a show. Normally, that would have included a parade up State Street and a rally around the Capitol Square. This year, however, thanks to city ordinances, police department demands, and organizational logistics, event organizers went back to the future, as it were…
I have just enough time this Sunday morning to let you in on a couple of personal matters. First off, I’ve put in a feeler on a potential new employment opportunity. It’s through a different staffing agency than the one where I found my current assignment. It’s also a temp-to-hire role. But it also appears to be an indefinite, long-term role. And it’s also in an industry where I spent a significant portion of my early professional life, meaning I need to move some of the industry’s terminology from the back to the front of my memory if I get this role.
But at the very least, if nothing pans out there or anyplace else, I do have my current assignment to fall back on. As much as I’m not happy there and have struggled sometimes, the managers I work under seem to be pleased with my work. Well, at least pleased enough to indicate they’d like to keep me on past September 1 and work some special projects. While that’s nice, and I’m grateful, I’m not sure if it will be a full-time role. And let’s just say that it’s not easy having just part-time employment while living in a city as expensive as Madison.
This afternoon, at least, I get to put all those work worries aside and get dressed up. And for good reason, as today is Madison’s LGBT+ celebration, OutReach Magic Festival. As I noted back in the spring, city regulations, logistics, and lingering resentment from last year prompted event organizers to eschew from having a parade downtown up State Street, and instead have a picnic/festival event at Warner Park on the northeast side of town. The setup is meant to help bring the various groups within the pride acronym together, something our community needs right now and will hopefully benefit from. The bad news, however, is that somebody has been praying for rain. As I write this, there’s a loud storm moving through town, and a chance of rain exists late during the event. Ugh!
Hopefully, everyone will stay dry at Magic Festival. Myself especially, as I will be lugging around a fancy camera while dodging raindrops. See, yours truly will be volunteering as Allison at the event. Little Ol’ Do-Gooder Me wanted to help out in any way. Despite my signing up relatively late (I did so after a volunteer orientation), spots were still available, and I added my femme name to the list as an event photographer. I’m planning to arrive early enough to not only drink in the event and get a lay of the land, but also to get the ground rules on photographing the event, one of which I’ve learned about already — get consent before taking someone’s picture. It will be a great thrill to not only lend a hand to what will hopefully be a great event, but to also help document it for posterity.
The way the calendar works, one’s birthday doesn’t always fall on the same day of the week every year. So it is with my birthday, which the past few years fell on a work day. Luckily, this year my 50th birthday fell on a Saturday. And when my family texted me yesterday to bid me their good wishes, they wondered what I would be doing during the day. A natural question, what with my 50th falling on a weekend. I told them I wouldn’t be doing anything big, just relaxing at home.
Oh, boy, was I lying like a dog.
That’s yours truly posing for the camera early Saturday evening at one of the more popular restaurants in the Madison area, The Great Dane. The dress is literally brand new, as well as a birthday present to myself. Earlier in the day, I made a quick bee line for errands and stopped off at Forever 21 in West Towne Mall to treat myself to not only a new stylish addition to my wardrobe, but also something that will fit me comfortably and not show a lot of leg (I didn’t have enough time for me to shave them, and I’ll explain why in a moment).
Four years ago, I sung the praises of an advertisement that PFLAG Canada put out to promote and support legal marriage equality worldwide. The ad was titled “Nobody’s Memories,” and it depicted images of what could have been: Weddings of same-gender couples from the mid-20th century, shown as home movie footage from an “alternate universe” that gives the viewer chills with their authentic aged styles. If you want to learn what I’m talking about, check out this blog link to take a look at it yourself; I just watched it again myself and am still struck by how powerful and moving that ad still is.
This week, a news item in the showbiz world made me recall that “Nobody’s Memories” ad and its (*sigh*) imaginary depictions of couples who just happen to be of the same gender in real love. I’ll talk up that TV item in a bit, but while doing some research on it, I went further down the internet rabbit hole and came across this photo of an actual wedding memory that did happen:
The above photo, as confirmed in this 2014 Houston Chronicle article, is from a small ceremony that took place at Harmony Wedding Chapel in Houston in October 1972. The groom is Antonio Molina, a shipping clerk, former high school football star, and Navy veteran. The resplendent bride is William “Billie” Ert, a female impersonator (stage name: “Mr. Vicki Carr”) and former hairdresser. Yes, William Ert was a male, but he had a voter registration card that listed his gender as “female.”
Earlier this month, yours truly reviewed Queer Shorts: Spirit of Stonewall, which had its very last performance at the Bartell Theatre this afternoon. In that review, I mentioned the backdrop Stage Q employed for this Queer Shorts edition. It a basic setup of a black curtain bathed by projected lights from overhead. The lights can change colors with the flip of a board switch, including the 6 colors of the LGBT rainbow.
More than the color of the curtain or the lights, there is something else about the backdrop that I found absolutely striking: To match the “Spirit of Stonewall” theme of this last Queer Shorts, Stage Q included photos, mostly 8x10s, of various images from local and national LGBT history. The photos were strung together in vertical arrays along the curtain, each pic about a foot apart. You can see what I mean in the below image of the Queer Shorts cast Stage Q posted on Facebook prior to their second to last performance.