You are receiving Ellie Krug's Monthly Newsletter, The Ripple 
Returning to Hastings MN 
Dear Friends:

We’ve reached another year’s end, marking almost two years of living with Covid. It has been such a long, difficult slog that’s tested our humanity toward each other and compassion for ourselves. All we can do is hope that come next spring, things will have markedly improved. I’m certainly wishing for that, as I’m sure you are too.

Some may recall that in November 2019, I travelled to Hastings, MN to speak about what it means to be transgender. That was prompted by a letter decrying “transgenderism” that several religious organizations published to the community. Thankfully, my talk there went well, and even some folks from the religious organizations expressed gratitude for my non-shaming/we’re-all-striving-to-survive-the-Human-Condition approach.

Earlier this month, Hastings was again in the news, and once more because of an incident that marginalized transgender people—this time it was about an eight-year-old transgender child of Kelsey Waits, a local school board member who was running for reelection. Kelsey and her husband had worked to keep their child’s gender identity status secret, but in the midst of the campaign, a group of intolerant people outed the child. You can read about the story here.

Because of this, I asked to return to Hastings to speak. The local YMCA and Thrive Hastings—a group working to make the community more welcoming and inclusive—readily agreed to sponsor me again. Thus, I will be presenting my “Bridging Divides” talk at a local junior high school on the evening of January 5. (Here’s the flyer for the event.)

While understanding that I’m an outsider, I hope that in some small way, I can do something to assist with the community healing. We shall see. By all means, feel free to attend the event.

Separately, Jack’s now a big pup—61 lbs. as of two weeks ago. Along with the weight, his personality has centered—he is a sweet, sweet boy who simply wants to be near me and who loves his stuffed animals, as the above photo reflects. (The stuffed animal is named "Lucy", after his mother.) I’m so lucky!

Jack and I wish you great end-of-the-year holidays! Be safe and well and I’ll talk to you in ’22. Remember, I care about you.

"Project Milky Way"--Gifts of Mothers' Milk to Support a Newborn and His Father
Bottles with fresh milk in a box. On a wooden background.
Minneapolis Star Tribune writer Laura Yuen has penned this touching story of how a group of pumping mothers are providing milk so that Seth Snyder can feed his eight-month-old son. This follows the postpartum suicide of Seth’s wife/his son’s mother, Radhika, on this past July 4th, when the baby was just ten weeks old.

Seth and Radhika have another child, a nine-year-old daughter, who was born when Radhika was attending medical school. Radhika experienced postpartum depression after her daughter’s birth, too, but with therapy and changes in circumstances (Radhika had graduated medical school and started work in Plymouth, MN as a family practice physician specializing in maternal health), the couple believed they were ready for a second child.

As Yuen notes, one in seven women suffers postpartum depression within the first year of giving birth. Of these, about one in 1000 mothers suffer from postpartum psychosis, which impairs the mother’s sense of reality. Seth believes this was the case with Radhika.

Because Radhika had intended to nurse her son for the first year of his life, Seth felt compelled to fulfill her wish. At that point, one of Radhika’s close friends and a neighbor, Heather Axtman—who had also given birth earlier this year—stepped up.

Before Radhika died, she was having trouble producing enough milk. Heather offered some of her milk supply as a way of being supportive, and Radhika appreciated the offer.

When Heather learned of Radhika’s death, she wanted to do something to help (distraught over her friend’s death, Heather said, “When she [Radhika] died, a piece of my heart broke”). She quickly organized more than 20 pumping mothers from across Minnesota and the country (one mother is in California) to ship milk to Heather, who stores packets of milk in her deep freezer, which she described as being “the size of my minivan.”

The gifts from these women have made Seth eternally grateful. “It hits me every day as I’m thawing these packets. It’s not just getting a bottle ready, it’s like getting an act of love, often from a stranger.”   

From tragedy comes the gift of mothers’ milk from many strangers. Because we humans care about each other far more than anyone believes.

There is a GoFundMe for the Lal-Snyder family—see here.
Inclusivity Tip of the Month
Feeling Overwhelmed?
Dealing with Fatigue from "the Work"
HIW Logo
I don’t think we talk nearly enough about how folks engaged in the day-to-day work of creating and overseeing diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) programs and initiatives often feel overwhelmed. Far too often, these practitioners work without administrative support and find themselves pushing against institutional cultures that are slow to embrace DEI concepts. It is an incredibly isolating profession, which often lends to fatigue and feelings of hopelessness.

The fatigue and hopelessness can be especially pronounced at the end of the year as the professional looks back and sees how little was accomplished due to institutional challenges. (Now, to be clear, there are many organizations that “get it” about DEI, and at those places, the DEI practitioner may be feeling quite good this time of year!)

What can we do when end-of-the-year blues set in for our DEI practitioners?

First, for those practitioners reading this who are experiencing fatigue, and maybe even depression, it’s incredibly important that you take care of yourself. Step away from the job as much as possible—for example, use PTO time to take every other Friday off. On your off time, engage in a hobby or endeavor that nourishes you and stay away from office email or phone calls. 

Second, if you’ve not already done it, find a therapist whose approach works for you. (It’s certainly appropriate to leave a therapist who isn’t helping you; everyone is entitled to have the “right” therapist.) I’m a huge advocate for therapy and believe that all humans should have a therapist. If things are getting particularly challenging, increase the frequency of your therapy visits.

Third, journal—yes, that old fashioned process of putting pen to paper and recording your thoughts. I have journaled for decades and find that it’s a wonderful way of orienting (and venting). Journals also constitute a record of your thinking over time.

Fourth, join a DEI practitioner support group. Here in the Twin Cities, we have TCDIR (the Twin Cities Diversity & Inclusion Roundtable), with 400+ members. The group provides programming and networking, as well as emotional support for its members. (Contact me it you’d like to know more about TCDIR.) If there’s not a group in your area, start one. Trust me, you will find members and it will be worth the effort!

Lastly, if a DEI practitioner is a part of your team, support that person. Be aware of the challenges that I write about here and offer emotional, and if possible, political support. Having allies within an organization can make all the difference in the world!

On a personal note, please recall my Standing Offer that I’ll talk to any human for up to an hour (and I don’t look at my watch…) relative to surviving the Human Condition. Any DEI practitioner can contact me for an ear or shoulder—I mean that. The work you do is so very important to fixing our society!
Sixty Second Roundups
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Here’s a story about a Texas restaurant owner being supportive of his gay team member after a customer posted a homophobic comment on social media (the boss is also a bit snarky). Ripple reader Carolyn Morain passed along this story of how random humans stepped up to return a girl’s beloved stuffed animal that had been left at a campsite in—of all places—Iceland. Nice.
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Last month I wrote about Minnesota Women’s Press (the oldest feminist publication in the country) and its initiative, the Changemakers Alliance: Stories, Solutions & Solidarity, which aims to connect urban and non-metro people around MN in informal conversations about healing trauma, transforming justice, community-based equity, and regenerating ecosystems. I’m now asking if you would consider donating to MWP; they’ve come up short for the year. We need this publication to survive! Thank you for considering this—click here. (Note: I forego any compensation for my MWP articles.) Also, on the evening of January 12, I will be giving an online talk, “Bridging Divides: Perspectives on Grit, Resiliency and the Four Commonalities” for the East Nokomis Community Association in Minneapolis. Everyone is invited; click here to learn more and register for this free online event. 
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At the risk of deflating some readers’ holiday spirit, there’s a lot of pain this month, like this story of a number of Iowa legislators calling for the repeal of LGBTQ protections from existing state law. In Florida, Gov. DeSantis has proposed legislation that would allow parents to sue schools if they teach anything under the vague umbrella of “Critical Race Theory.” Along the same lines, here’s a story of longtime TN teacher Matthew Hawn who was fired for teaching about white privilege. Then there’s the Michigan archdiocese which announced that LGBTQ people can’t be baptized or receive communion. Really? Finally, see this story of a school board member being slugged by a parent for supporting a CT school’s change of mascot to end the appropriation of a Native American term and image. Ugh. 
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For Relief this month, we have a playful elephant—see this beautiful animal steal a woman’s hat, only to return it. From there, we shift to pups—one with a wagging tail as he meets (from behind his home’s glass doors) a mountain lion and the other of a pup waiting for a throw that just might never come. Next is love at a women’s softball game (trust me, you will like this!). Finally, I deeply believe that the universe speaks to us in a variety of ways: if this video isn’t proof of that, I don’t know what is… 
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From just outside Kansas City comes a $4 million verdict against a Missouri school district that prevented a transgender boy from using his middle school and high school boy’s bathrooms and locker room. (As I say, discrimination costs.) Also, the Trevor Project (which works to prevent suicide in the LGBTQ community) reports that hormone replacement therapy (HRT) for trans youth lowers the risk of suicide and depression. (Frankly, I can attest to this as an adult.) We’ve also heard a great deal about Lia Thomas, a transgender University of Pennsylvania swimmer who broke several school and national records recently. She’s been attacked for having a purported unfair advantage given her male biology—see here. However, see this article which states that it’s “inconclusive” that trans athletes (usually transwomen) have any sports advantage. Note, too, there are only about 100 transwomen competing in college athletics compared to 200,000 biological females. And now the U.S. Air Force has joined the State Department in allowing pronouns in signature blocks—progress! 
Lastly, if you want to help me to do more work for organizations that lack budgets for training, please consider donating to Human Ripple Works, Inc., a nonprofit that others and I set up to train nonprofits/other organizations on human inclusivity. Thank you for that!! If you’d like to support this work, please click here on the HRW website.
The Ripple is a work in progress, so please, I welcome your suggestions and comments! Please share this newsletter with others, too!

Please consider reading my book, Getting to Ellen: A Memoir about Love, Honesty and Gender Change; if possible, order it through your local bookstore. And, if your book club reads my book, I'm happy to come for the discussion via Zoom!

Thank you for helping to make the world a better place! I'm at your side, cheering you on, I promise! Please have compassion for yourself and for others.

Encouraging Open Hearts and Thriving Human Spirits 
Human Inspiration Works, LLC: We make "inclusion" an action word

Ellen (Ellie) Krug