You are receiving Ellie Krug's Monthly Newsletter, The Ripple 
"Allyship" is an Action Word
Sioux Falls

Dear Friends:
This month Human Inspiration Works, LLC launched a new training on allyship—the action part of being an ally. We often hear of others labeling him or herself as an “ally” (as in “although I’m not transgender, I’m your ally and will respect you”), something for which I’m always quite grateful. However, “allyship” is different; it involves actually speaking up for another human who may be part of a marginalized community.

This means things can get quite messy—now, in protecting someone else, the ally might become the focus of the ignorant person who is engaged in marginalizing behavior. That’s pretty scary for some people and it’s the reason why in many instances, marginalized people are left to fend for themselves.

Below you will see a piece about an encounter at a Reston, Virginia Trader Joe’s where a white (and presumably Christian) woman confronts a Muslim women (who had spoken up on behalf of another Muslim woman) as both wait in the checkout line. The white woman casually—yes, casually!—tells the Muslim woman that she doesn’t belong in the U.S. (We know this because the Muslim woman filmed the conversation with her phone.)

Others nearby must have overheard/observed what was going on between the two women. My question: why didn’t they speak up in support of the Muslim woman now being confronted? Where were her allies when she really needed them?

Remember—we don’t have a Human Owner’s Manual to resort to on what to do when someone acts cruelly toward another human in our presence. Thus, we must constantly remind ourselves about the very unlevel playing field on which all of us exist. By acting to protect others, we can make that playing field a little more even.

Please speak up for those who lack voices of their own.

Be well! I care about each of you.

e llie

A Somebody Doing Something

After coming across a sleeping homeless man on a busy Melbourne, Australia street, Simon Rowe, entrepreneur and chef, gave the man $20. After handing over the money, Rowe saw how tired, but grateful the man was. It made Rowe think.

As a younger man, Rowe was homeless and found himself living in his car for months. His experience with homelessness spurred him to create an innovative homeless shelter-on-wheels, Sleepbus.

Sleepbus, based in Melbourne, is a mobile shelter that provides homeless individuals, families and their pets a safe place to sleep at night.  Each Sleepbus has 18 sleeping pods that lock from the inside with individual personal heat and air controls. There’s also USB charging ports and  televisions in each pod. Parents have the ability to control the lock on their child’s pod.

Rowe doesn’t see the Sleepbus replacing traditional homeless shelters but instead filling a gap for the things shelters cannot do. Traveling to shelters is a huge problem for homeless humans and the Sleepbus is different because it comes to them.

Each bus costs $50,000 to buy and build. In just 4 days, a 2016 GoFundMe campaign raised $20,000. Within 2 months, the page raised more than $100,000.  100 percent of donations go directly to the Sleepbus. Rowe  quit his full-time job to work on the Sleepbus project; in turn, two large Australian companies teamed up to pay Rowe’s salary.

This is a shining example of selflessness and inclusivity. “I once wondered why somebody didn’t do something about people sleeping on the street, then I realized I am somebody and decided to have a go,” Rowe writes on his GoFundMe page. What a powerful statement and wonderful example of using one’s imagination to improve a bad situation! With that kind of attitude, we can all be a “somebody.”

Hatred in the Grocery Line

You may have seen the video that went viral on Facebook of a white woman telling an unidentified Muslim woman, “I wish they didn’t let you in the country” in a northern Virginia Trader Joe’s grocery store.

Comedian Jeremy McLellan posted the viral video on his Facebook page for his 150,000 followers to view, resulting in over eight million views in just four days. The unidentified Muslim woman, who has remained anonymous, is a close friend of McLellan’s.

The rest of the Trader Joe’s story includes that there was another Muslim woman in the grocery store wearing a niqab, which is another form of head covering. The white woman made inappropriate comments about the woman wearing the niqab. (This came after McLellan’s Muslim friend apparently let the white woman cut in front of her in the grocery line.) In response, the Muslim woman said, “I shouldn’t have let you in front of me.” The white woman responded with, “I wish they didn’t let you in the country.” The Muslim woman fires back that she was “born here,” which prompted the white woman to skeptically reply, “Oh, you were?”

Human Inspiration Works, LLC team member and colleague Lula Hussein, who wears a hijab and is a Black, Muslim, American-born woman, reports that this doubting of citizenship status happens more often than is commonly believed.  “It gets exhausting,” Lula states.  

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), in 2016 there were 917 hate groups operating in the United States. The SPLC does an annual “Hate Map” of all hate groups that exist in America, which you can view here.  Further, In 2016, the number of hate crimes rose 24 percent in New York and a shocking 62 percent in Washington D.C.

An example of a hate group is the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), an anti-LGBTQ group that has been in the media demonizing LGBTQ humans and calling for  the criminalization of homosexuality.

Anti-Muslim hate groups saw the most dramatic growth in 2016, tripling from 34 In 2015 to 101 hate groups in 2016.

Eighty-percent of educators report increased anxiety and fear among their students since the 2016 presidential election. Groups particularly affected are Muslims, African Americans, LGBTQ people, and immigrants. Many teachers have reported incidents of racial slurs, offensive language, and extremist symbols in their classrooms.

One last fact: following the election, the number of antigovernment “Patriot” groups declined 35 percent . One would think this counterintuitive; however, analysts suggest this means that groups which were once anti-government are now pro-government since they no longer see the need to resist government policies. In other words, it appears those groups are content with the current intolerant direction of America.

Really? How sad if in fact this is the case.  

The Story of a Modern-Day Slave in America

Just this week, The Atlantic Magazine published online a brilliant thought-provoking piece by Alex Tizon, the author of Big Little Man: In Search of My Asian Self. The piece, “My Family’s Slave,” details a centuries-old Philippine culture of servitude based on a caste (degree of poverty) system. As Tilzon  writes:

Her name was Eudocia Tomas Pulido. We called her Lola. She was 4 foot 11, with mocha-brown skin and almond eyes that I can still see looking into minemy first memory. She was 18 years old when my grandfather gave her to my mother as a gift, and when my family moved to the United States, we brought her with us. No other word but slave encompassed the life she lived. Her days began before everyone else woke and ended after we went to bed. She prepared three meals a day, cleaned the house, waited on my parents, and took care of my four siblings and me. My parents never paid her, and they scolded her constantly. She wasnt kept in leg irons, but she might as well have been. So many nights, on my way to the bathroom, Id spot her sleeping in a corner, slumped against a mound of laundry, her fingers clutching a garment she was in the middle of folding.

Tizon, a past Pulitzer Prize recipient, writes with a rare degree of familial guilt, shame and honesty thats exceedingly brave. Most of all, the story of Lola is one of the unyielding human spiritLolasand how it is never too late to ask for forgiveness or to do the right thing.

Tizon died very recently, so he never got the chance to see this piece in print. Although it will likely take you 20-30 minutes to read, I can assure you the piece is well worth the time. I, for one, will never forget Lola and her profound strength. 

This 4 Minute Heineken is Mandatory Viewing

In late April, Heineken posted on its YouTube page a four minute ad titled, “Worlds Apart/#OpenYourWorld” which shows three groups of paired people entering a soundstage with instructions to build “something.” That “something” turns out to be a relationship that breaks down barriers and stereotypes.

The ad opens with short video clips of each participant stating their firm, strident convictions about women/feminism, climate change and gender identity/transgender folks. The participants, who are each polar opposites on these issues, are then paired together (e.g. a sexist paired with a feminist). We watch as they enter the soundstage and proceed to build a wooden bar and chairs in three stages: “icebreaker” “Q&A” and “bridge building.” Each stage requires the participant to share about themselves; indeed, the Q&A asks the participants to find three things they have in common, which resulted in sharing personal stories.

Eventually, the bar gets built and the pair is then faced with “The Decision” where they are shown the video clip of their strident personal views (made before the building exercise began). “The Decision” is whether they will now sit at the bar (drinking Heinekens of course) and discuss their differences.

I won’t tell you how the ad ends, but certainly it becomes very clear that the process of building the bar brought these people closer to each other. Once again, the business world shows the way to bridge our differences and respect each other.

You can view the ad here. Please forward it to whomever in your life/world. This underscores the kind of work that HIW seeks to carry out: we must get past the divisions that are pulling down our society, country and world.

Inclusivity Tip of the Month
HIW Logo

Our Inclusivity Tip for this month is about PGPs—Personal Gender Pronouns and how the world is changing.

Those with college students in their lives already know about PGPs since they’re frequently used on college campuses; thus, when students check-in by saying their names, they’re also asked for their PGP’s: “she/her” “he/him” “they/them” or something else. 

PGPs are reminders that yes, gender is on a spectrum and that for many, a binary gender system (e.g. simply male or female) is far too traditional and confining a way to categorize one’s self.

More importantly, asking for one’s PGP is an act of inclusivity and respect since one’s gender identity is brain-based; for some people, it’s impossible to discern their gender identity simply on the basis of their appearance.

Since many twenty and thirty-somethings are habituated to giving both their names and their PGPs at the start of business or social meetings, asking for one’s PGP along with their name will eventually become the norm. And that’s not a bad thing!

Courtesy of Macalester College, you can find an easy-to-read primer on PGPs here. Further, Macalester has a wonderful “More than Words” online resource with posters and postcards that easily explain key points relative to dialogue, microaggressions (including a specific card for racist microaggressions), and stereotypes. You can find the link to the Mac website here. (A special thanks to Mac’s Demetrius Colvin and his team for working to compile that resource!)

Odds and Ends
This month’s Odds and Ends includes not one but two Darn Wonderful's, the second of which is quite personal:   
Darn Wonderful I:   I suspect you’ve never seen baby elephants playing in a baby pool before; if this video doesn’t make you smile, well, I don’t know what will.  
Darn Wonderful II:  Speaking of smiling, those who’ve read my memoir know that I have two daughters, one (now 27 yrs. old) whom I named “Emily.” (I gave both daughters pseudonyms to protect some element of their privacy.) Without dwelling on it, I lost Emily for several years because of my gender transition. Happily (!!) Emily came back to me in 2014; we have since grown very close. Now, in the I’m-so-ecstatic-plus-exceedingly-grateful category, my daughter (who is a writer like me) has “come out” very publicly with her true name as Kate, the daughter of Ellen Krug. Kate did this by recently penning a mention of my memoir for Book Riot , the online book review site. I know I’m partial, but her words show a willingness and commitment to love despite adversity. Click here to read. Kate, our bond is forever!  Thank you for being brave!
Our First Human is Human™ Retreat: On Tuesday June 27th, from 5:00pm to 9:00pm Human Inspiration Works, LLC will host its first Human is Human™ retreat at the Autumn Grove Park Building in Roseville MN. Dinner will be provided. The H is H retreats are designed around the idea of living authentically and with inclusivity; the goal is to conduct a couple of retreats a month with the hope of expanding into day or weekend-long retreats. This first retreat will be a “test” where we try concepts and work out bugs. Some folks have signed up but we are still looking for more volunteers who live in the greater Twin Cities. Please contact Lula at to volunteer (it’s free!) and for more information.  Thanks!
A Shout Out to Pioneering Women Therapists: I recently attended the 40th Anniversary celebration of Minnesota Women in Psychology, where a founding member spoke of combatting sexism, racism, and a “good old boys club” that was inherent in what was once a very male-dominated profession. The room was made up of former feminist-therapists and younger women just getting their start in the profession. It was very enlightening for me (who by transitioning genders at age 52 came very late to this party) about the sacrifices made by women on whose shoulders I now stand. Thank you MWP just for simply being!
Recent Media: On May 4th, KIMT in Rochester MN aired a story about how the Mayo Clinic has now started to perform gender confirmation surgeries; they interviewed me about how this might impact transgender Minnesotans. (See clip here.) You can read my May 11 Lavender Magazine  piece, “Losing People” (about how loved ones to trans people often shut them out when the transgender person comes out as his or her “true self”).
Recent “Hidden Edges Radio” Shows: My radio show, “Hidden Edges Radio (Sundays 1-2 p.m. CST on AM950) has now taped a total of 20 shows. Recent shows include Frank Brown of Minuteman Press Uptown talking about his unconventional inclusion philosophy that includes paying a living wage and giving persons who’ve served prison time a second chance. I also recently interviewed Lisa Vecoli, curator of the Trotter Collection (one of the largest collection of LGBTQ books and magazines)) at the University of Minnesota. Click here for the podcasts link.
Upcoming Talks/Trainings and General Stuff:  The coming weeks include speaking in San Francisco and multiple organizational trainings in the greater Twin Cities area. We are especially looking forward to June 20th where we will present to the City of Bloomington (home of the Mall of America) with a 3-hour evening community inclusivity event (Gray Area Thinking™ plus Transgender 101) which will be open to the public. This is one of those rare opportunities to speak to the community at large; the event is open to anyone (you need not be a city resident to attend); click here to register for the event.
Lastly: I am extremely grateful for your support.  With Lula’s help, I am attempting to build a different kind of platform—one with a distinct social justice bend, but which also allows me to pay my bills. Thank you for sharing about our work; it’s the only way we can get into the doors of organizations!
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.
A big thank-you to Lula for being a wonderful team member!  
Encouraging Open Hearts and Thriving Human Spirits 
Human Inspiration Works, LLC: We make "inclusion" an action word

Ellen (Ellie) Krug