CALL: Ellie Krug on Breaking Barriers

From an 11-part series recorded at the April 16, 2022, “Celebrating Badass Minnesota Women” event.

Thanks to First Unitarian Society of Minneapolis for hosting the April 16, 2022, event on behalf of the 38th anniversary of Minnesota Women’s Press and its kickoff of Changemakers Alliance.

To become a supporting member of Changemakers Alliance and its conversations-to-CALLs-to-action, click here. Contributions also can be made via Venmo at @mnwomenspress.


My name is Ellie Krug. If you have ever heard me speak, you will know that I often talk about being an idealist. That goes back to me being a seven-year-old ‘boy’ in the early 1960s, where I started reading the newspaper and learning about Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy. Before they were murdered, their words sank into me. They told me I have an obligation to make the world a better place. That idealism led me to want to be a civil lawyer doing environmental law.

But there was a problem, and the problem was me. In order for me to be an idealist, I had to be who I was — which was at that time a girl, and now a woman. Back in the 60s and 70s and early 80s, this was impossible to even contemplate. Fast forward to me transitioning at age 52 in Iowa.

Then fast forward to January of last year when I moved from downtown Minneapolis, where I had lived for a decade, out to Victoria. I am literally on the edge of the prairie looking out at a farm from my bedroom window. I moved to a place where all my gay boyfriends were saying ‘what the hell are you doing?’ — to a place where I was the only visible transgender person for many miles around, living on a street with older white, cisgender straight people.

Fast forward again to September of last year. I get a knock on my door. It is a Boy Scout selling wreaths. My being a lawyer by training, and also being queer, I asked him, ‘you want to sell me a wreath. Tell me this, do you have any girls in your Boy Scout troop?’ He said, ‘yeah, we do.’ ‘Okay, I said, you have any LGBTQ+ kids in your Boy Scout troop?’ He stood for a minute and he thought — it was like he was counting down a list [in his head]. He said, ‘yeah, we have one, maybe two.’ Then I said, ‘okay, I will buy a wreath,’ even though I don’t like wreaths.

Fast forward to six weeks ago. Timothy’s family one day just showed up at my house, knocked on my door, and gave me a loaf of bread. His father said, ‘Ellie, we were thinking of you, and we are baking bread today, and we thought we would bring you some bread.’

I was so touched, because it meant a lot that day that I was being thought of. I sent them a thank you note and invited them all to dinner at my house. Last month we sat down and had a meal. I cooked chicken parmigiana, my favorite meal — the only one I know how to make. During the conversation, Deborah, the wife, casually mentioned to me that they were evangelical Christians. In my head, I knew being accepted as trans [is not easy for evangelical Christians.] Here was this family, having a meal with me, laughing. They seemed engaged, and they were a delight.

The work that I do is about breaking barriers. Within the last month I have spoken to five groups — great Gay Straight Alliances in three different towns. Talking to queer kids. I stood in front of 100 federal judges in Nashville, talking about how to be good to each other. On Monday, I will sit with the Victoria city council and all of the managers of the city of Victoria and lead them in a talking circle exercise.

How you can help me is get me in front of people who think that I am odd, and I will show them that I am not.

May 23, 10-11am Conversation

Ellie Krug is a Changemakers Alliance advisory board member who will talk about her journey in a talk for CALL members titled “How to Be Authentic Even When You Are Afraid.” To register, visit this link.