writer, lawyer, human
Human Inspiration Works, LLC
Vol 5 No. 2 February 2020
Inspired by the words and actions of Robert F. Kennedy
Criminalizing Trans Kid/Youth Healthcare
South Dakota legislators recently attempted to criminalize healthcare for transgender kids/youth (you read that right; lawmakers wanted to put doctors in jail for up to a year for treating any trans-identifying human younger than 16, even if the parents wanted their child to receive such healthcare). Although the SD House passed the proposed bill, fortunately last week the SD Senate allowed the bill to die in committee. Still, this reflects great ignorance about transgender humans—medical and hormone treatment for younger people struggling with gender identity can be lifesaving.
Consequently, this Saturday, the 22nd, I’ll be in Sioux Falls, SD to give my “Bridging Divides” talk. I’ll also be on South Dakota public radio and TV; because of timing, this newsletter must go out before my trip, but you can follow what’s happening via Twitter (@elliekrug) or Instagram (@elliejkrug). I’ll also try to blog too.
The attempt to criminalize transgender healthcare is part of a nationwide effort to further marginalize transgender humans. Presently there are 12 states where similar bills (criminalizing trans healthcare) are pending; one state, Missouri, even wants parents reported to child welfare authorities if they arrange for such healthcare. One commentator called it “whack a mole”: on the day that the SD bill was defeated, Ohio legislators introduced the very same legislation.
My recent work with religious communities clearly suggests that many people with conservative views (who might support these bills) simply have never met a transgender person. They’ve not heard firsthand what it means for one’s brain to not match their body. I’m convinced that many of those folks would be against the healthcare criminalization laws if they simply got to meet someone who is trans.
Many trans people and others in the larger LGBI community are terrified by what’s happening in America. This is why I’m going to South Dakota. It’s also why I’m willing to go just about anywhere else to speak with a message of compassion for others and for one’s self.
Please be aware of what’s happening in your state. We need all the help we can get!
Be well. I care about you.
USA Today article
lists these other states with trans healthcare criminalization bills: Colorado, West Virginia, Kentucky, Missouri, Florida, South Carolina, Oklahoma and Illinois. The
also lists Iowa, Idaho, and Tennessee with such bills.
Target Stores Again Reinforces Inclusivity
reported by CNN
, a Facebook page dedicated to a two-year-old with a mobility-impairing disease that requires use of a wheelchair recently went viral when the child’s mother posted a picture of her son staring at a Target ad of another child modeling clothing while in a wheelchair.
Oliver Garza-Pena suffers from Caudal Regression Syndrome that impairs development of his lower body; as a result, he uses a wheelchair for mobility. During a recent trip to an Arizona Target store, Oliver and his mother, Demi, went through the children’s clothing area where they came across a large picture/ad of a young boy in a wheel chair modeling an orange-colored shirt.
Demi realized that Oliver was staring at the ad—it was the first time he had ever seen a child like himself pictured in advertising. As Demi told “Good Morning America,” “I could see the look on his face—he knew that boy (in the ad) was like him.”
When Oliver couldn’t break his stare, Demi stepped away and snapped a photo. Later, she posted the photo on Facebook and shared the story of her son finding that he isn’t alone in the world. She wrote, “He just stared at it in awe. He recognized another boy like him, smiling and laughing on a display at Target. Oliver sees kids every day, but he never gets to see kids like him. This is amazing!”
Kudos to Target for thinking more inclusively to have clothing models who are representative of our diverse world! This is yet another example of Target’s leadership on human inclusivity; in April 2016, Target announced it would allow customers to use its bathrooms according to a customer’s gender identity. This was a radical move at the time—four years ago is a long time for trans people; we’ve gained much more acceptance since then. (Target even endured a conservative-led boycott for its bathroom policy.)
There is no reason why more companies can’t think like Target. Inclusivity can be a win-win for everyone!
Righting a Wrong :
U.S. Bank Apologizes
(A note to readers: U.S. Bancorp is a past client where I’ve trained several times.)
What could have been a great story about thinking outside the box, taking a risk and exercising compassion for a human/bank customer went haywire right before Christmas.
As reported by
, Portland, Oregon U.S. Bank call center employee Emily James had a customer on the line whose paycheck was the subject of a bank hold. It was late in the afternoon on Christmas Eve and the customer, Marc Eugenio, had just started a new job. When Emily reported that the paycheck (which Marc deposited via ATM) was on hold for verification, Marc reported that he didn’t even have enough money to buy gas to get home. He told Emily “I just wish I had $20 to get home.”
Hearing this, Emily used her imagination and went to her manager to ask for permission to drive to the gas station where Marc was parked. It took persistence, but Emily finally got permission. She then drove to meet Marc (who had initially told her, “No, No, don’t do that”) and handed him $20 from her wallet. After giving Marc a hug and wishing him “Merry Christmas,” Emily drove back to work.
On the way back, Emily found herself crying. She thought, “I actually get to help effect change. Even if it (was) this little tiny thing, I’m making someone’s life just a little bit better.”
Five days later, Emily and the manager who gave her permission to help out Marc were fired by U.S. Bank for violating company rules that prohibited bank call center employees from personally meeting bank customers. That unfortunate personnel decision ignited a firestorm, including a highly critical
New York Times article
by Nicholas Kristof.
After that bad press, U.S. Bank CEO Andrew Cecere called Emily and her manager, Abigail Gilbert, and offered them their jobs back. Abigail accepted but Emily (as best I can determine) hasn’t decided whether to return. She does have multiple offers from other employers—good for her!
The takeaways: Emily and her manager effectively exercised great compassion, something we can all agree is to be valued and cultivated everywhere. In fact, we need way more Emily’s and Abigail’s in corporate America. However, the fact that Andrew Cercere was big enough to admit his company’s mistake and to then right the wrong is important too. Way too many entities dig in when called to task for an obvious mistake involving human lives, so good for U.S. Bank to make things better. (It’s just too bad that it took a Nick Kristof article to make that happen.)
From my experience, there are way many good folks at U.S. Bank and the company, in general, gets inclusivity-focused things right that many other businesses struggle with. I hope this incident doesn’t keep team members from exercising compassion toward others—that commodity is already in too short of supply in the world at large.
Inclusivity Tip of the Month
My New Training on
Beginning with a limited presentation I did last summer with a D&I colleague, I’ve been working on a brand new training program around skin color. The training is now ready to be launched; titled, “Getting Past the Bumpiness
: White Fragility and Skin Color,”
the training covers the ways that skin color permeates our culture. The training also offers strategies to tamp down racism (how to be “anti-racist”) and how to recognize the harmful effects of having a country that historically has been white-color dominated.
Getting Past the Bumpiness
can either be an Introductory session of 75-90 minutes or a 120 to 240-minute Deep Dive workshop. Both trainings cover the historical roots of enslaving Africans and others with dark skin. Additionally, both trainings cover the differences between “prejudice” and “discrimination” and explore the concept of “white fragility”(e.g. the emotional difficulty that most white-color people experience when talking about skin color in America).
The Deep Dive goes several steps further than the Introductory training and includes group exercises to understand key historical events and involves group discussion. As a result, there is a size limitation of 30 people for this more involved training.
An important underpinning of my approach with the training in either modality is to introduce the idea of “grace”—not the religious kind but instead the type that relieves others (and one’s self) from judgment as we explore various concepts around “race.” That doesn’t mean we ignore or downplay personal perspectives or life experiences, but if folks are concerned about being judged for what societal forces have taught them all their life, we’ll never get anywhere.
Finally, I developed this training because as a white-color human, I know that I can get away with saying things that people with other skin colors can’t say—many white-color humans might tune out their words. Further, because I moved from the top of the pyramid (as an ostensible male high-power attack dog lawyer) to somewhere far lower (as a transgender woman with a way-too-deep voice that puts me at risk in some places), I’ve earned some credibility to speak about how humans “Other” other humans.
Let me know if you’d like information about this new training that I’m very excited to offer! You can download a description of the training
. For the Minnesota-licensed lawyers reading this, Getting Past the Bumpiness
will be offered on February 27
via Minnesota CLE.
Odds & Ends
I’ve got more dog videos, including a mutt that can sled all by itself. However, there’s some heavy stuff here too. That’s the way the world is, you know—yin and yang. It’s well worth taking the time on all that’s below (but of course, I’m biased).
of the snow-sledding dog. So cool!
Second Darn Wonderful:
as astronaut Christina Koch comes home to her dog after 11 months in space (a longest-time-in-space record for a woman). Make sure you turn on the sound!
One More Wonderful:
Firemen hold a special place in my heart.
of a firefighter rescuing a man from a high-rise fire in Los Angeles will explain why. Listen for the cheering at the end.
Know the Name, “Samuel Reynolds,” Please:
Two weeks ago, a 16-year-old Arlington TX high school student, Samuel Reynolds, stepped in to stop a bully from beating up a smaller boy. Days later, the bully shot and killed Sam. His obituary reads in part, “Sam was one of the most compassionate and helpful people you could ever meet.” As reported in
, a friend said that Sam, “(C)ared about people and did what was right.” My heart breaks for Sam’s family; we have lost a gentle soul whom the world needed very badly.
Protecting Lonely Students:
Reader’s Digest piece
by Glennon Doyle, author of
Love Warrior: A Memoir.
The article, titled “One Teacher’s Brilliant Strategy to Stop Future School Shootings—and It’s Not About Guns,” is about what her son’s fifth grade teacher does to protect lonely students. It’s an example of brilliantly using one’s imagination to protect vulnerable humans! Imagine how things might be different if the
bully who killed Sam Reynolds had such a teacher.
Racist Remarks at a Parent School Meeting to Combat Racism:
Yes, more proof of how some feel empowered to marginalize, but watch
and note the number of people who speak up on behalf of the marginalized parent. That’s how allyship is supposed to work!
Humans Coming to the Rescue of a Stranger:
A car accident on a busy NYC street left a woman trapped under a vehicle.
Watch as many humans lift the car
off her. It happened because most humans have good empathetic hearts and when shown how to exercise those hearts, we show up in droves…
And a Singular Human Rescues a Man Freezing in Lake Michigan:
came in just a couple days ago. Gray Area Thinking® at work in real time.
Pie Slices Representing Wealth/Income Inequality in America: “
CBS This Morning” host Tony Dokoupil demonstrates something incredibly powerful at a New York shopping mall. Note how no one guesses the extent of inequality correctly. At a minimum, we need to understand the numbers…Click
Lemonade--African American Teen Refused Graduation Because of His Hair Gets an Oscar Invite:
After a Texas high school told DeAndre Arnold to cut off his dreadlocks or he wouldn’t be able to walk for graduation, “Hair Love” producers Gabrielle Union and Dwayne Wade invited DeAndre to the Oscars. Dove—another corporate brand that gets inclusivity—underwrote DeAndre’s trip. Check out
; people with darker skin continue to be marginalized because of their hair. Please understand this.
More Gabrielle Union and Dwayne Wade Compassion:
They now have a transgender daughter! As Dwayne
told Ellen DeGeneres
, “We are proud parents of a child in the LGBTQ+ community…We take our roles as parents seriously.” Wonderful.
The Price of Discrimination:
about veteran St. Louis County police officer Keith Wildhaber who was told by a county supervisor, “tone down your gayness.” This would explain why Keith, an exemplary officer, had been passed over for promotion time and again. Several weeks ago, a Missouri jury awarded Keith $20 million; he’s now agreed to a $10 million settlement and that job promotion. A big takeaway is that this happened in Missouri, a very conservative state. (Yes, St. Louis would be more liberal but still…)
It’s Black History Month:
Let me at least note this
story about 17 African American LGBTQ pioneers and this
commemorating 60 years since the start of the Greensboro NC lunch counter sit-ins. Talk about bravery and guts. I can’t imagine the strength!
Good for Transgender Humans:
Last week, the
9th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed
a lower court’s decision to dismiss a lawsuit that challenged a Dallas, Oregon high school’s policy of allowing a transgender boy to use the boy’s locker room and restrooms. The lower court specially ruled that such use didn’t violate the rights of cisgender (non-transgender) students. More good work by the ACLU and others!
People Showing Up in Cedar Rapids, IA:
Many know that my roots to Cedar Rapids (“CR” to natives) are long and deep. Thus, it caught my attention to see
about a brewery facing backlash for hosting drag queen bingo events in support of a local LGBTQ youth center. Interestingly, most of the hateful comments came from outside CR. After the brewery reported the backlash, the brewery hosted another LGBTQ fundraiser which raised even more than prior fundraisers. Yep. That’s CR for ya. Such a great place with good people!
A New Comedy Central Transgender-Focused Show:
Have you heard about
this new show
, “Transaction,” starring Jordan Gray?
Virginia Set to Become the 23
State to Protect Trans Humans (and Others):
My 29-year-old daughter Kate, a writer like me, is a freelancer for
where she reviews books. She recently launched a brand-new book review website,
It’s All Booked
he regularly reviews books on her blog; check it out! Kate's a bit under the gun this month with many things, so look for her book pick in next month's
“Ellie 2.0 Radio” Podcasts/Shows:
My podcast/show, “Ellie 2.0 Radio,” airs on Twin Cities-based AM950 every Monday from 7 to 8 a.m. CST and can be live-streamed by clicking
. Ellie 2.0 Radio highlights various historical and contemporary idealists and my work as a “practical idealist” trying to change the world for the better. You might want to check out my January 27
show where I interviewed the Rev. DeWayne Davis re: being a gay African American man married to another man. Please also consider my February 10
show with Susan Williams from
The Transformation Project SD
re: creating a nonprofit to protect trans kids and their families—that nonprofit didn’t exist 6 months ago! Click
for the show’s list of podcasts.
Writings by Me:
My February 13
“Out of Left Field,”
is about a breast cancer scare that I went through in early January. Welcome to womanhood, ellie! Seriously, it reinforced that in the five decades when I presented as male, I really didn’t fully understand what it means to be female. How life experience can vividly change perspective!
Stuff that I’m Reading:
Here is another
great piece by Nicholas Kristof
of the NYT re: his new book (along with his wife Sheryl WuDuun),
and the idea that we Americans are too quick to judge others less fortunate as either not having worked hard enough or of having character flaws. I agree with Kristof that the idea of giving others “grace,” is a much better and more nuanced approach—something that I’ve incorporated in my new training. Also,
and ellie fan Michelle Cohen sent along this
wonderful NYT piece
(sorry about so many NYT references), “The Lesson of a Rescue Dog.” Note the words toward the end, “The brain holds on to trauma. But we also cling to kindness.” So incredibly true!
Please Follow Me on Twitter—The Goal is 1300 Followers:
I’m shooting for 1300 Twitter followers; currently, the number stands at 925. Will you please follow me? The larger my footprint, the better I can get out a message about compassion for others and for one’s self. The Twitter handle is @elliekrug. Thanks!
Please Follow me On Instagram:
Would you please follow me on that as well? (I know, I sure ask a lot from you…) The Instagram handle is @elliejkrug. Make sure to include the “j”; otherwise you’ll start to follow a 23-year-old blonde Victoria Secret model—sadly, that would not be me!
Past and Upcoming Talks/Trainings and General Stuff:
This week I’m in Chicago to speak at Neal, Gerber & Eisenberg. I get back on Wed. late and then train at Hiway Federal Credit Union in St. Paul first thing Thursday. After that, I’m in the car driving to South Dakota and speaking in various locations. Next month has me in Cedar Rapids to train at my alma mater Coe College one day; the next day is full of community trainings. Later in March, I’ll be in Carlsbad CA to speak on an American Bar Association panel re: LGBTQ lawyers. See my Upcoming Engagements
Want to Support My Work toward Fostering Greater Compassion and Human Inclusivity?
My goal is to do more work in greater MN and other parts of the country where access to compassion/human inclusivity training is limited or nonexistent; for this work, others and I have set up a nonprofit, Human Ripple Works, Inc. Some of you have been sending in checks or making online donations to help with this; THANK YOU! If you’d like to support this work,
please click here
on the HRW website. (As you’ll see, for this work I reach out to nonprofits or under-funded agencies to do a free or a greatly-reduced- fee training in these locales.) Thanks for considering this!
is a work in progress, so please, I welcome your suggestions and comments! Please share this newsletter with others, too!
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