You are receiving Ellie Krug's Monthly Newsletter, The Ripple 
   A Road Trip to States Where I'm Not Legal 
Sioux Falls
Dear Friends: Some of you know that earlier this month, I took a "speaking road trip" across the middle west to two states--South Dakota and Wyoming--where I have no legal rights as a transgender woman. My goal was to speak about "Gray Area Thinking", a toolset that I've created for how to welcome and accept others who are "different" from "us." 

I spoke at the LGBTQ Equality Center in Sioux Falls and the public libraries in Rapid City and Laramie. At each location, I found friendly people who welcomed me, and as was the case in Sioux Falls, who treated me like a rock star. I even gave a nearly 40 minute interview to South Dakota Public Broadcasting Radio in Rapid City, which you can find here. If you're like me and don't have a free half hour plus to listen to my man-voice online, you can read about the trip on my blog at

By the way, did you know that I (and other transgender people) only have legal rights in only 18 states and D.C.? Or that it's actually possible to drive from the Canadian border to the Mexican border without encountering a state where there are legal protections for trans folks?

The biggest takeaway from my 2100 mile trip (other than the beauty of our country) was being reminded of how the vast majority of Americans really want to do the right thing, yet they're afraid of saying or doing something that would make someone "different" uncomfortable. My trip confirmed that it's absolutely critical that everyone--from the polished banker to the hardworking street department worker--be trained on unconscious bias and on how we can connect with each other by focusing on our commonalities rather than our differences.

It's also important to view the work of breaking down barriers between people as human rights work. Viewing it as such elevates the importance of the work; indeed, I'd argue that this work is so crucial right now given the political polarization in our country. Fear and marginaliztion are rampant, all because we aren't willing to do the uncomfortable work of learning how to overcome our hard-wiring for bias, labeling, and tribalism.

You can help! Look for opportunities where I can show up and train on "Gray Area Thinking" and talk about the "Four Commonalities" that all humans share. (For now, I'll leave you hanging as to what those commonalities are...)

It's only through our collective work that I and millions of other LGBTQ folks won't have to worry about driving through--or worse, living in--states where we aren't legal. Someday--maybe 10 or 15 years from now--all Americans will enjoy equal rights in every state.
Speaking of the Real America
I'm a huge fan of The Atlantic magazine and in particular, one of its editor-writers, James Fallows. In a June 25, 2016 "Note", Fallows writes about taking a road trip through Kansas (hmm, sounds familiar) and finding what he calls "Real America" where many west Kansas towns are now majority-Latino, and sprinkled with immigrants from Somalia, Sudan and east Asia.  According to Fallows, the community narrative isn't that we need to build walls, but instead the realization that "we need each other." Many of these towns have negative growth rates and without the influx of immigrants, the towns would shrivel up and die. 
Fallows writes, "I just want to register: if you came to a part of America that had undergone some of the most profound recent ethnic change, and that was by inclination no way trendily progressive, you would find Americans responding the way your best idea of America would suggest: inclusive, embracing, assessing newcomers on their character and behavior rather than on the categories they might be assigned..."
You can read Fallows's piece "A Note About Trumpism, From the Real America," here.
More proof of what I say over and over: we are good people but we need to learn the tools of inclusivity.
Pushing the Envelope....
We Minnesotans live with great dichotomies. On the one hand, we have a state with one  of the lowest unemployment rates and highest education achievement percentages. That is, for white persons. (As of May 2016, the unemployment rate for white Minnesotans was 2.9% compared with 10.7% for Blacks and 4.9% for Latinos.)
As the above numbers show, if you're of color or foreign-born, the picture is quite different.  With much higher joblessness and much lower graduation rates, many in these communities are struggling. Add to this the recent incidents of police-involved shootings of black men (Jamar Clark and Philando Castille), and we have a not so good recipe for  social and economic change.
Thankfully, Minneapolis and St. Paul have progressive minded mayors and Minnesota has in Mark Dayton a true champion for shaking up the existing order. Indeed, with Governor Dayton's leadership, the Minnesota legislature recently appropriated $35 million toward programs that will increase racial and economic equity in Minnesota.  
The big problem, as I see it, is that money and good intentions aside, we have no comprehensive state-wide or even Twin Cities-wide plan for how to implement real and lasting change. Indeed, there's not even an umbrella organization that keeps track of who's doing what relative to diversity and inclusion in the Twin Cities or the state. As a result, we have many well-intentioned individuals and organizations (including moi) doing work that's not centrally coordinated for maximum impact and effectiveness. This lends to duplication of effort and much wheel-spinning.
Because I continue to believe that a single person can still make a difference (thank you Dr. King and RFK, whom I call the "Special Ks"), I've drafted a "Ten Point Plan for Changing the Diversity and Inclusion Landscape" which includes proposing creation of an "Inclusion Czar" to direct and oversee the changes needed in our state. (Click here for a PDF of a Twin Cites-focused Ten Point Plan.) 
I've been trying to get Mayor Hodges to review this plan for several months without success. Now I've decided to take the plan to the top--to Governor Dayton, the big cheese himself. I'm presently awaiting word on whether I'll get an audience with the governor. If my back door efforts fail, I very well may resort to a front door approach.
Stay tuned!
My friend Emily Baxter is the founder and curator of We Are All Criminals, a nonprofit geared toward reducing the stigma and marginalization of those with criminal records.   WAAC is doing incredible work by reminding the "75%" of us who have broken laws but not gotten caught that the "25%" of those who were caught often suffer life-long consequences. (For example, did you know that a simple marijuana possession at age 19 could prevent someone from being able to rent ten years later?) 
WAAC humanizes personal stories about not getting caught to help us realize that "those people" (the ones who did get caught) are just like "us." This is more stuff about commonalities which needs greater focus. That focus will help light the pathway to a more inclusive, fair and just society.
You can check out WAAC here. Maybe get on their mailing list?  

Human to Human Impact
With every issue of The Ripple, I hope to highlight a person who's made a difference through their impactful words, actions or leadership.
There's much going on in the world and it would be easy to find many candidates but I stumbled upon an article featuring Craig Phillips, a "death doula" who's spending his retirement from corporate life sitting at the bedsides of hospice patients who have mere days or hours left to live.
For those like me who were unaware of "death doulas", their purpose is that of simply being present for the dying with the goal of easing passage from this world to the next. According to Henry Fersko-Weiss of the International End of Life Doula Association, "Our role is to walk alongside [the dying] in their journey."
What an extremely impactful way of connecting with other humans at a time when they might not have anyone! A quick Google search didn't reveal any death doula program in MN, but perhaps there are individual doulas at work in the state.
I can imagine how this work benefits both the dying and the doula. As Phillips, stated, "The more immediacy, for me, that I have of [mortality]," he says, "the more appreciation I have for every day."
It appears that this incredibly compassionate work produces gifts on both sides of the hospice bed railing. The Washington Post story on Phillips and his new calling can be found here.
Ray of Sunshine

One of the best seminars I’ve ever attended, “Breaking Poverty Barriers to Equal Justice”, took place in Oct. 2014 at Target Corporation and was arranged by Lindquist & Vennum, LLP and the Volunteer Lawyers Network. The speaker, Donna Beegle, grew up in poverty; at age 15 she married and dropped out of school. Eventually, two children later, she broke the cycle of poverty, earned a doctorate in education leadership, and became a national speaker on understanding the “invisibility of poverty.” 

What Dr. Beegle taught was that society so easily marginalizes those who live in poverty; in fact, people who lack resources want the same things—respect, relationships, something to believe in—that folks who are financially better off also desire.

Thankfully, the four hour seminar was videotaped and now, anyone can view it (the seminar is broken into individual training modules) by going to the Lindquist & Vennum LLP website (see here). I aspire for the level of impact that Dr. Beegle is having—it’s well worth your time to view the seminar. (And yes, I think it’s cool that L&V hosts such material!)  

                                          Odds and Ends
Once more there many Odds and Ends in this issue; I have a lot going on and much to share about.
In the Media: In addition to speaking on public radio in South Dakota, last week AM950 aired Betty Folliard's ("A Woman's Place") interview of me relative to my diversity & inclusion work, my memoir, Getting to Ellen, and my other passion, Call for Justice, LLC. Assuming you've got 50 free minutes (sure, Ellie), click on this link to the podcast-interview. For the record, Betty called my book a "thumping good read." Nice! 
Recent Writings: For those who don't follow me on Facebook, my words recently showed up in Lavender Magazine with  columns entitled "Pulse Orlando" (re: the June 12 LBGTQ club shooting that left 49 humans dead)(here) and "The New Normal" (re: how fear has displaced our feeling of security)(here). 
Upcoming Talks/Trainings: I'm heading south to Iowa multiple times in the next two months to conduct diversity/inclusion training ("Gray Area Thinking") for the Iowa court system. I'm also going east to Burlington VT to present at a judicial educators conference and then west to Phoenix to speak at a legal administrators conference in early October. And...drum roll please...I'll be speaking in Manhattan in mid-November! This list is by no means exhaustive and for those who are interested, you can find my complete speaking/training schedule on my website by clicking here.  
Supporting Target Corporation: Along with a couple million other transgender persons and even more gay and lesbian folks, I have a special place in my heart for Target given its corporate bravery in allowing trans people to use restrooms that conform to their gender identity. I've heard that Target projects flat revenue for the rest of the year; I don't know if that's due to the extremist right's boycott or not, but regardless, I urge you to make sure the good ol' red bullseye gets some of your business. Thank you!
Darn Interesting: In case I haven't talked about The Atlantic enough, there's a great article in the July/August issue by Jonathan Rauch entitled, "What's Ailing American Politics?" He describes how we got to our current state of polarization using virus (causes and treatment) as a metaphor. It's quite a fascinating read. See it here.
The Ripple is a work in progress, so please, I welcome your suggestions and comments! 
Also, as if I already don't have enough to do, beginning in September The Ripple will go monthly. There's just way too much happening in the world (both mine and the larger planet we inhabit) for me to not comment every month.
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 
Ellen (Ellie) Krug