Employees in New York City must complete a mandatory online training session developed by the city that teaches that society defines people by their reproductive organs and asks whether all “cisgender” men need a “plaid shirt” and “bulging muscles.”
The NYC Commission on Human Rights developed the online training module, which satisfies both the state and city requirements for mandatory sexual harassment prevention training, in 2019. All employees in the city are required by law to complete such training, and while New York City employers are not obligated to use the city’s own online training video, many of them opt to do so.
The online interactive training module developed by the city includes a lengthy video on gender and sexuality.
“Every single person watching this video has been taught gender from the very beginning, from birth,” a woman in the video says.
A man in the video explains that someone’s perception of gender impacts “what you were named, what clothes you wear, expectations about what jobs you can do.”
“We like to define people, right?” the man says. “So when people are born, society defines them by looking at their reproductive organs and labels them male or female.”
Scenes from NYC gov's online sexual harassment prevention training
"Let me ask you something… If you're a cis man do you need a plaid shirt? Bulging muscles?"
The stereotypical "cis man" apparently wears Star Wars and flannel shirts and carries an extension cord? pic.twitter.com/pOZaefy8pJ
— Mairead McArdle (@JohnsonHildy) May 25, 2021
The video then shows an actress playing an expectant woman getting a sonogram and exclaiming, “It’s a girl!”
“Well, actually, it’s more complicated than that,” the first woman responds.
The video then delves into “gender identity” and features four individuals, a “cisgender” woman and man, as well as a transgender woman and man.
“I’m a trans woman. I identify as a woman even though when I was born I was assigned something different,” a transgender person named Tamara says.
“Aw, it’s a boy,” another actress in the video says as a man holds a baby in a blue blanket.
“Um, no,” Tamara answers and pulls away the blue blanket to reveal a pink one.
Bailey, who identifies as a “trans man,” has a similar sequence in the video.
Two more people introduce themselves as “C” and Lindsey and state that they are “non-binary.”
“For me that means that I don’t identify as either a woman or a man,” C says.
“And for me that means I don’t identify with a gender at all,” Lindsey says as the two hold multi-colored balloons.
The video goes on to describe gender and sexuality as “both part of our identities” but “completely different categories.”
“So don’t assume someone’s sexuality based on their gender,” one woman in the video says.
The video also features a long-haired man wearing a hair bow, a shawl, and a pearl necklace who offers trainees insight on “gender expression.”
“Let me ask you something. If you’re a cis man do you need a plaid shirt? Bulging muscles? To have no room for tears? To love sports? No. This might work for some and not others. Why? Because there’s no one way to express masculinity or femininity. That’s for you to decide,” the man says.
“Bottom line, you understand your identity better than anyone else,” another transgender woman says.
The training video informs participants at the beginning that a certificate of completion will be awarded at the end of the training, and there is no other way to confirm they have completed the training.