Skirting The Issues: Gratitude II

Ellen Krug. Photo by Mike Hnida
Ellen Krug. Photo by Mike Hnida

Five years ago, I penned a column entitled “Gratitude” that detailed how a group of well-off, totally straight cisgender people had selected me to be the executive director of a brand new nonprofit, Call for Justice (C4J). To this very day, I can’t believe they had the guts to hire me (a newbie to the Twin Cities and a transwoman who doesn’t pass 100 percent) to launch a nonprofit from scratch.

It’s been quite a ride too; in those five years, we (I didn’t do it alone) built an organization that garnered an American Bar Association award for innovative ways of helping low-income people connect with lawyers; we envisioned and facilitated creation of a low-fee law firm in St. Paul; and we’ve traveled thousands of miles in greater Minnesota to train social service agencies on how to connect their clients with pro bono lawyers.

(By the way, I never share about being transgender when I do my C4J work; I simply show up as Ellie Krug, human. Consequently, in Bemidji there’s a half dozen very nice but completely clueless social workers who’ve not stumbled on to the fact that I’m trans. Instead, because of my deep voice, I can imagine their pity over erroneously believing that I smoked five packs of cigarettes a day for 25 years. “Oh, that poor Ellie Krug!”)

Yes, my little nonprofit has accomplished much. I’m appreciative of the support that so many have given to make that happen (and for most of those “many,” I’m the first trans person they’ve ever met).

However, it’s now time for me to go on to other things and goals that I want to accomplish before this body of mine wears out. Hence, sometime in the next several months, I will leave C4J to take a different path, one that involves being even more of an innovator, human catalyst, and doer.

Or so I hope.

Thus, it was with a big smile that I sat in my corporate attorney’s office earlier this month and watched as he hit “send” on a link to the Minnesota Secretary of State’s website. With that, he created Human Inspiration Works, my newest venture aimed at doing my part to make the world a better place.

Yup, at nearly 60, I’m starting over yet again, charting a new course that’s got no guarantee of success and a great deal of personal and financial risk.

And I’ve got buckets of gratitude over the chance to do it. I know I’m darn lucky, too; most trans people struggle to get just one do-over after transitioning genders. Here I am going for number two.

With that, I think, comes a special obligation to make sure I succeed.

What is Human Inspiration Works about?

In sum, it’s my way of putting a label on all that I’m presently doing and more that I seek to accomplish. It formalizes the speaking and diversity training that I’ve been undertaking since I transitioned genders in 2009 (at this point, 300+ speaking/training events). Incorporating also provides a professional base for the “inclusionist” consulting that I’ve been conducting on-site at businesses and organizations. Finally, it provides some framework for my dreams and imagination, such as my goal to see Minnesota lead the nation in educating “ordinary” people about the value of diversity and inclusion. We’ll see how it all goes; here’s to wishing me luck.

That leaves two remaining items of business.

First, my new endeavor needs a logo. What better way to make the point about the value of inclusion than to include the community in helping to brand it? For those graphic artists and anyone else out there who think they could design a logo that captures the spirit and purpose of Human Inspiration Works, go to for information about how to enter a logo design contest.

The second item relates to filling my position at Call for Justice. If you’re a lawyer or if you have a nonprofit management background and are passionate about helping low-income people connect with lawyers to protect core needs like housing or freedom from abusers, go to the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits website ( and check out the C4J executive director job posting. It’s a rewarding position and the right candidate will get the chance to work with a great board of directors. Most of all, it’s a very cool way to do some community good.

There you have it. Life continues to unfold for me in ways that I could never have imagined when I endured living as a man. What a ride; thank god I got here.

Even more, thank you to everyone who’s made this possible. I am so very grateful!

Ellen (Ellie) Krug is the author of Getting to Ellen: A Memoir about Love, Honesty and Gender Change (2013). She frequently speaks and trains on diversity and inclusion topics; visit where you can sign up for her newsletter. She welcomes your comments at [email protected].

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