Digital Transgender Archive

Interview with Ellie Krug

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Ellie Krug was born during the 1950s in Newark, New Jersey where her parents both lived in the tenements. She identifies herself as a transgender woman assigned male at birth. At 11, Krug’s father was promoted at his job. They consequently moved to Cedar Rapids, Iowa where, practically overnight, they were transported from lower to upper middle class and moved to a new, nicer neighborhood. In Cedar Rapids, Krug began crossdressing in her sister’s underwear at 11, despite feeling ashamed of it and hiding it. Krug describes herself as a jock during grade school, playing football, karate, and baseball along with dating girls. She was also bullied during high school by football players, perhaps for standing out too much from men. When Krug started dating a girl who she later married with the expectation to be a man, as an escape she would crossdress in lingerie. Later, afraid her wife would leave her, Krug stuffed down feelings of feminine gender expression for close to 30 years. After Krug’s father committed suicide in 1990, she discovered that he was unfaithful to her mother, having sex with men and women. Krug decided then to commit herself to never be unfaithful to her wife. She tried all sort of strategies, such as multiple therapists and drinking to cope. Krug had a daughter with her wife and planned on adopting another. Krug realized, however, that she could not sacrifice herself anymore for her wife and family after the events of 9/11 acted as a wakeup call for her. It took Krug three difficult years to work up to leaving her wife, her soulmate as Krug describes. In 2009 Krug, at the time a divorced trial lawyer with her own law firm outside Cedar Rapids, came out and began presenting as a woman and socially transitioning. In 2010 she lost her law firm after clients left due to her transition and then, ready for a fresh start, moved to the Twin Cities where she wrote a book, became Executive Director of Call for Justice which helps low-income people with legal resources, and underwent three major transition related surgeries. Her book is a memoir, Getting to Ellen: A Memoir About Love, Honesty, and Gender Change, which speaks to her struggle to find authenticity. The memoir was produced as a stage play in 2015. Krug is on the board of the Minnesota Lavender Bar Association, the largest group of professional queer lawyers in Minnesota. In Iowa City, she was president and then a board member of an organization called Connections, which was LGBTQ education and program oriented. Krug has also given hundreds of talks about being transgender, educating and advocating others about trans identity.

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