Getting to Ellen: Living and Litigating in Two Genders

Ellen Krug gave me a copy of her memoir, Getting to Ellen, after we had lunch on Monday, and I barely put it down until I finished it a few minutes ago. It kept me up past 2 a.m. both of the last two nights. It is a very good book, and you should probably get a copy and stay up late reading it, too.

As a man, Ellen was Ed, a trial lawyer who specialized in victim blaming, nicknamed “Killer Krug” and variously described as an asshole or a dick. Despite his anger and aggression, Ed was a successful lawyer and devoted to his wife and daughters. But Ed was also a woman, although it took him nearly four decades to realize and come to terms with his gender identity. Ellen continued the law practice, making her a member of what has to be a tiny group of trial lawyers who have successfully tried cases as a woman and a man.

Today, Ellen is the executive director of a public interest non-profit in Minneapolis, Call for Justice. The transformation from tough-male-trial-lawyer to a kind-female-public-interest-executive-director is, as you might imagine, pretty remarkable. And it makes for riveting reading.

Getting to Ellen chronicles Ellen’s journey from boy to man to woman, and her hopscotch through the “LGBT alphabet.” But it is much more than a book about transsexuality. It will inspire anyone who is not living, in Ellen’s words, an “authentic life.” If you think law school debt is keeping you from chasing your dreams, imagine what Ellen had to overcome in order to live her own authentic life. (Spoiler: there is a lot of heartbreak in this memoir, but plenty of heartwarming, as well.) Ellen was at rock bottom, contemplating suicide. She did not really have an alternative to her authentic life, even if it took years for some of her family and friends to see that.

If you want an inspiring memoir that will make you cry, laugh, and think, pick up Getting to Ellen and read it this summer.

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