MN transgender attorney: Legal profession needs to welcome 'trans' lawyers

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A Minnesota legal publication published an impassioned essay from a transgender attorney who says the often traditional legal world must do more to welcome transgender professionals.

Minnesota Lawyer reports Ellen Krug, a Minneapolis-resident who serves as executive director of Minnesota’s legal aid hotline Call for Justice, authored “We Hear You Knocking: An Essay on Welcoming ‘Trans’ Lawyers” in the most recent edition of the William Mitchell Law Review.

Krug writes that while the Twin Cities has a disproportionate number of LGBTQ people compared to much of the rest of the country, "its legal community lags woefully behind in diversity on a number of fronts."

Krug's expansive essay details the ethical, legal and human relations impact of employing transgender employees, or employees who are transitioning. She notes that it's an issue that law firms, like other businesses, can expect to face.

"Yup, applying soon to a legal employer near you—or, holy cow, even to your own shop—will be a law school grad born in one gender who is now living, or about to live, in the other gender," she writes, citing an example: "It might be a fifth-year female associate proclaiming that from here on out, he will report only as male—and it better not affect his chances for making partner."

Krug: 'Tremendous courage' required

According to her website, Krug transitioned from male to female in 2009 and was the first Iowa attorney, and one of the few nationally, to "try a jury case in the other gender."

She was the first transgender attorney to argue before the Iowa Supreme Court.

Krug is a monthly columnist for Lavender magazine and the author of "Getting to Ellen: A Memoir about Love, Honesty and Gender Change." As a speaker, she has presented to companies, universities, law schools and nonprofits.

In her essay, Krug suggests that the unique background that many transgender people have experienced makes them well-suited for the legal profession.

"The process of coming out as a transgender person usually involves great personal struggle. ... Bucking those pressures in order to live authentically takes tremendous courage. It also requires intelligence, enormous drive, persistence, and an uncompromising belief in one’s self," she writes. "In comparison to law school graduates who may be relatively untried, most out 'trans' lawyers have already demonstrated that they have the 'right stuff' to be effective attorneys."

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