Saturday, September 22, 2007

My excursion to the Governor's office

Yesterday morning (it already being Saturday) I participated in a meeting of the NY State GENDA Coalition Steering Committee and Governor Spitzer's First Deputy Secretary, Sean Patrick Maloney, at the Governor's offices in Manhattan. Maloney is gay, so he acts as Spitzer's liaison to the LGBT community.

We were there to present our requests for help by the Governor to enact GENDA, the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act, and for other actions he could take to eliminate discrimination against trans-people. During his campaign Spitzer expressed support for GENDA, and we would like him to take some action now that he's Governor.

We were accompanied by Dick Gottfried, the main sponsor of GENDA in the assembly, and the Senior Legislative Aide to Tom Duane, the main sponsor in the State Senate. Midway in the meeting Tom himself showed up--resplendent in his pink shirt. It was great having our two strongest backers in the legislature there to support us. Also with us were members of the Empire State Pride Agenda (ESPA) staff, who came down from Albany. They're our logistical supporters and their expertise in lobbying is a great help to the Coalition.

The meeting was supposed to be with Maloney, but all he had time for was a brief apology for having to go to something else (I believe it was the press conference to announce that New York would be issuing driver's licenses to illegal immigrants--illegal immigrants being another part of his area of responsibility to the governor). He said he would be returning to our meeting, but when he did it was just to tell us that he wouldn't be able to stay, and that his "door was always open"--which is very nice, except it would help if he were actually in the office with the open door.

Anyhow, the meeting ended up being with an assistant counsel to the Governor, who attended via speakerphone from Albany. So much for our strategy of letting the Governor's staff see trans-peoples' faces. (Well, Maloney was with us for a few minutes.)

I won't go into the details of the meeting, other than it was somewhat of a disappointment to me. The assistant counsel couldn't commit to anything--even after some insistence from the Senator. Although he gave what information he could, I'm sure he had no authority to promise anything. He did give us one or two direct contacts, and said he'd e-mail more. If we do end up getting some positive results, I guess it was worth having Coalition members take off from work and traveling great distances to attend. We'll have to wait and see what support we get from the Governor.

There was one positive note: during the meeting Sen. Duane left the conference room, and returned with Eric Dinallo, the Superintendent of the State Insurance Department--someone who could be very helpful in getting better health insurance coverage for trans-people.

On the way out we ran into most of the lesbian, gay and bisexual members of the State Assembly, who were there for another meeting. Deborah Glick complimented my jacket. Micah Kellner, the recently elected bisexual assembly member, was there with his chief-of-staff, Eliyanna Kaiser, who worked closely with the GENDA Coalition as one of Gottfried's staffers. This was the first time I really saw Kellner up close. He is (allegedly) 28 years old, but he looks like he's 16!

Speaking about going out of the meeting, I had a couple minor kerfuffles (if that's not a word it should be) on my way in. No, not the misspelling of my name on the security guard's attendee list. It was the fact that the name on my driver's license wasn't on the list at all. But the guard didn't have a real problem with it. The other little problem was going through the metal detector they have at the entry to the Governor's office suite (two floors, actually). I kept setting it off, so I kept removing my jewelry, until the guard indicated it was something at my mid-section. Then I remembered I was wearing a steel-ribbed corset--which wasn't a problem for that guard either.

Of course, my major kerfuffle of the day was just getting to a 10:30am meeting (actually our pre-meeting) across town presenting as a woman. I got up at 5:00am to do that, and I was still a little late.

EDIT: Do read the comments for more info on getting my corset through metal detectors.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

A sound investment

Canadian Dollar Reaches Parity With U.S.
I guess I've made a very good investment in Canadian currency. I have C$4.94 in Canadian change, some of which was left over from my last trip to Canada, in 1991. I also have C$2.34 in Canadian postage stamps (not to mention 4 Montreal Metro tickets from 1991, which are probably worthless).

As you may surmise, I do tend to favor the "buy and hold" investment strategy.