You are receiving Ellie Krug's Monthly Newsletter, The Ripple 
   How We Judge Ourselves--And Harshly
Sioux Falls
Dear Friends:  October was busy—I travelled to Phoenix and Iowa for speaking/trainings and continued to build Human Inspiration Works, LLC ( the business arm of my remaining life’s mission work to make a positive difference in the world.  

I also met with James Burroughs, the state’s Chief Inclusion Officer, to talk about boldly  changing the diversity and inclusion landscape in Minnesota.  Stay tuned to see what that produced!

At same time, I put in 20-30 hours/wk. at Call for Justice, LLC as the board of directors works on hiring my successor. Whew!  

I want to share about last month's training of Iowa’s 150+ state court judges (and some Supreme Court justices) on “Gray Area Thinking”™, aimed at understanding how we group and label each other and ourselves.  

A component of GAT is the “Identity Game” where I post placards with labels (“Race” “Gender” “LGBTQ” etc.) on the training room walls and read prompts (“The identity that gives me the most privilege is...”). I then have audience members stand and move to the label that most appropriately fits them.  

In training the Iowa judges, I read a prompt, “The identity that I personally struggle with the most on a daily basis is…” In response, I watched people move to various identities, such as “Political Affiliation” or “Age” and other expected responses.   However, I watched as a good sized group of people—at least 40 folks—ended up standing in front of a label, “Not Good Enough/Failure.”

Holy cow, I thought.    

I pointed out that Iowa’s judges represent the “tippy top of the pyramid” relative to the state’s lawyers. “If these folks wonder about being good enough,” I said, “imagine how the rest of the pyramid feels about itself.”  

I share this to emphasize how all of us—from the top of the pyramid to the bottom—beat ourselves up on a regular basis. As I say at every training I conduct, we have no “Human Owner’s Manual,” and as a result, we need to have great compassion for ourselves. All that we can aspire for is to do our best.  

The next time you “judge” yourself, remember those Iowa judges. As long as you can honestly say you’re doing your best under current conditions, please—give yourself a break! Life is to be lived and not endured!  


Encountering the Great Divide
I’ve made a conscious effort to avoid editorializing about the presidential election but given the stakes, I wanted to share a few thoughts.  

First, there’s a really great article, “This Election Pits Trump vs. Clinton and Old America vs. New America,” by Cathleen Decker in the October 22nd on-line version of the LA Times. In the article, Decker cites how the demographics of American voters is changing dramatically—that in just 20 years (from 1992 to 2012), the percentage of the white electorate had fallen from 87% to 74%. By 2065, only 46% of the population will be white.  

Decker also highlights the key ingredient in this year’s election—fear. The old America fears that the new America will take away what it’s worked to achieve. On the other hand, the new America is afraid that it’ll never get to enjoy what this country has to offer. As a Jamaican immigrant related, “My family came here for opportunity, and Donald Trump is taking that away. He’s taking America out of America.”  

It’s not lost on me that I—Ellie Krug, a white, former 1 percenter now middle-aged transgender woman living in the lower 47%—am part of the new America. Those of you with gay, lesbian, transgender or biracial children or nieces/nephews or just plain people you care about, also have a stake in this new America. And, for those of you who don’t have that kind of attachment, can you be absolutely certain that you’ll never have a loved one who will some day  “come out” as part of the LGBTQ alphabet or marry interracially or internationally?  

This new America is actually just the same old America we’ve always loved. We need to remember that.  

What I fear now is the “Great Divide” that’s been created by the rhetoric of this election cycle. The consequences of this divide will last long past November 8. I’ll write more about that after we know who wins this coming Tuesday. (That is, of course, unless we don’t have a clear winner, something I fear might happen.)  
Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Shares a Pueblo Indian Prayer

I had the pleasure of hearing Minnesota’s newest Supreme Court Justice, Anne K. McKeig, speak last week when she was conferred a Community Leadership Award by the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office. Justice McKeig’s remarks were an unexpected breath of fresh air and still have me thinking. 

In case you are not aware, Justice McKeig is the first Minnesota Supreme Court justice of Native American heritage. (She had previously served as a District Court judge in Hennepin County and before that, as an assistant county attorney specializing in Native American child welfare cases.)

Justice McKeig, who is a member of the White Earth Band of Ojibwe, grew up in Federal Dam, Minnesota. She related having a childhood with both parents present who shared love and respect, and who expected for her to achieve her highest potential. In particular, she shared about her mother’s favorite saying, “I shall not grow tired,” which I found so meaningful given the work that it takes to raise a child. Most of all, I found Justice McKeig exceedingly down to earth—as in a “one of us” kind of person. She brought tears to my eyes several times as she related her passion about helping children who literally have no one to protect them other than lawyers and judges who seek to do the right thing.

Justice McKeig closed her talk by quoting a Pueblo Indian prayer:

Hold on to what is good,
Even if it's a handful of earth.
Hold on to what you believe,
Even if it's a tree that stands by itself.
Hold on to what you must do,
Even if it's a long way from here.
Hold on to your life,
Even if it's easier to let go.
Hold on to my hand,
Even if someday I'll be gone away from you.    

I’m thrilled that Minnesota counts Justice McKeig among its judicial ranks. She will inspire many people to do their best and to help others who lack voices of their own. For sure, you can count me as one of those inspired people.     


This month’s Intersectionality focus is on how Secret Deodorant has broken new ground with a thirty second television commercial featuring a young transgender woman trying to navigate a public women's restroom. The spot, part of the “Secret #Stress Test" ad campaign, portrays a late teen/early twenties trans woman standing behind a bathroom stall door fretting because a number of similarly-aged women have entered the bathroom and linger at the bathroom sinks talking. Viewers watch as the trans woman struggles with the decision of whether to exit the stall. (I’ll let you watch here to see how the scene turns out.)

As reported in The Huffington Post, the trans actress in the ad, Karis Wilde, said that taping the commercial was very emotional. “While shooting, I allowed myself to feel vulnerable. It terrified me how very much I’ve stored all those emotions. I almost cried in the middle of taping.”

I’m particularly impressed that Proctor & Gamble (the makers of Secret) used an actress who doesn’t “pass” entirely (e.g. that the viewer will know she is transgender). This is critical for all trans persons, but in particular for trans women who (like me) retain some kind of “marker” or characteristic that keeps us from fitting in completely. (For me, it’s my voice and larger hands [no Donald Trump jokes, please!].)

This is just the start of other ways the media will integrate transgender persons into the fabric of our society. It’s so needed, particularly for our trans youth and young adults who lack the resiliency and perspective to put up with bigotry and marginalization. Someone needs to say “We value you!”

Thank you P&G!

Human to Human Impact: Mikael Tekeste, Hero

Some of you have gone through my Gray Area Thinking™ training and know that I use a video which shows how a Buffalo NY bus driver saves a woman from ending her life; the woman stood on an overpass above a busy expressway when Darnell Barton (my hero) stopped his bus to grab the woman before she could jump.  

I now have another hero, Mikael Tekeste, of Saint Paul, who  recently received an award for his August 2016 action in preventing a woman from jumping off the Wabasha Street bridge which spans the Mississippi River in downtown Saint Paul.

Mikael’s act of courage occurred one morning when he encountered the woman standing on  the bridge with a luggage bag. Before he could act, the woman climbed over the bridge railing, yelled, “Tell my family I love them. I can’t live anymore,” and started to jump; Mikael then reflexively grabbed the woman’s arms from between the railing and held her until a police officer came by to assist.  

Pretty incredible stuff if you ask me.  

You’ll see from a news report of Mikeal’s heroism award that Mikael is an immigrant from Eritrea who owns a small market just two blocks from the bridge. (Please remember that the next time you hear about immigrants killing Americans and “taking our jobs.”) As Mikael says, “I tell people to do the right thing. We’re all in it together.”  

You’re reading this because there aren’t enough stories about the good things we do for each other. I’m absolutely positive that if we could ever keep a tally, the number of good things would dwarf the bad things by a mile. Without question!  

Ray of Sunshine

Every once in a while you stumble across an organization that’s doing incredible work but which doesn’t get the attention it deserves. One such organization—which earns this month’s Sunshine spot—is Joyce Preschool, a south Minneapolis pre-kindergarten school that predominately serves Hispanic children and kids from other marginalized communities.  

The thing about Joyce? For the past four years, its graduating class has been 100% ready for kindergarten. As significant, 50% of Joyce families receive a scholarship. These numbers compare with the fact that only 41% of Hispanic children in Minneapolis are ready for kindergarten when they get there. The same percentage—41%—of Hispanic children also live in poverty. (Think of that; nearly 1 in 2 Hispanic kids is below the poverty level!)  

Joyce’s philosophy: “To give children their best opportunities, we don’t just enroll preschoolers, but work in partnership with families.” The Joyce program provides a safe space for foreign-born persons and Spanish-speaking families to learn the skills they need to navigate a daunting, English-dominant school system, including literacy programming that focuses on the whole family. They provide a variety of other services, such as access to pro bono attorneys.  

I’ve attended several Joyce fundraisers and have never been able to get through a single one without shedding tears of joy and gratitude over the phenomenal work that Joyce does with children. 2016-17 will be Joyce’s 50th year of operation; why not consider a donation?  

You can read more about this incredible organization here. I am in awe of the results you achieve, Joyce! I hope that someday your wonderful work is replicated across the country!

                                          Odds and Ends
Once more there are some Odds and Ends in this issue; I have a lot going on and much to share about.
Darn Interesting: For those who haven't seen it, here's the most witty political ad of this very, very long campaign season. What a nice breath of fresh air too--it attacks no one.
Recent Writings: As is my practice, I’ll list my most recent Lavender Magazine article, “Authenticity” which reminds about how society continues to demand that many adhere to an unrealistic idea of what’s “normal.” Click to read.  
Upcoming Talks/Trainings: Hey Des Moines and New York City (okay, you don’t usually read both cities’ names in the same sentence)—I’m coming your way! On 11/9, I’ll spend an entire day at Drake University speaking to classes and capping off with a university-invited “Gray Area Thinking”™. On 11/17, I’ll be in the Big Apple to speak at Dorsey & Whitney, LLP clients and attorneys re: how to be welcoming to transgender co-workers, lawyers, and clients. That’s on top of many other talks and trainings—I am so incredibly grateful for all of this! Click here to see my complete schedule of upcoming events.  
Running the Numbers:  Thank you for reading this newsletter and for sharing it! Just in case it’s of interest, the average open rate for newsletters is 18%. For The Ripple, the average open rate is an astounding 61%! I think this is because we’re all hungry to hear about others—who like us—struggle to make their ways through the human condition and succeed! That’s my goal: to let everyone know they’re not alone and that yes, with hard work, it’s absolutely possible to pivot to a better way of experiencing life.  
The Ripple 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

Ellen (Ellie) Krug