Transgender advocate to give free presentations at Steamboat Methodist Church, college and community center |

Transgender advocate to give free presentations at Steamboat Methodist Church, college and community center

Ellen Krug's 'Being Human' sessions focus on compassion, inclusivity

Ellen Krug, a nationally known transgender advocate, will present her workshop on inclusivity at three free, public events on Sept. 24 and 25.

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — A national leader in LGBTQ advocacy will give several free trainings on mindfulness and compassion in Steamboat Springs on Tuesday, Sept. 24, and Wednesday, Sept. 25, including an event at the Heart of Steamboat United Methodist Church. 

Ellen Krug, a transgender author, public speaker and attorney, will present one of her workshops, “Gray Area Thinking,” which teaches how to accept and understand people of different races, sexualities, religions and other marginalized identities.

Church members organized the event, along with the local nonprofit Health Partnership, as the first in a series called, “Being Human,” with the aim of promoting inclusivity among the congregation and the community.

This comes amid a global rift in the Methodist congregation following a vote in February to ban LGBTQ clergy and same-sex marriages. Rev. Tim Selby and many within the local church rejected that decision and have taken steps to make all members feel welcome. 

“We decided that the first thing we wanted to work on is becoming a reconciling congregation,” said church member Pam Ruehle, referring to a network of Methodist churches that seek to include people of all sexual orientations and gender identities.

Ruehle and many of her fellow congregants have been outspoken about their commitment to diversity and acceptance. In January, Selby and members of an inclusivity team at the church published a letter in Steamboat Pilot & Today inviting all people to attend sermons and other activities. 

“We felt it was important that our church would be welcoming and a safe place,” said Ruehle, who helped draft the letter. 

She looks forward to the unique perspective Krug will bring to Steamboat, a place where many people remain closeted about their sexual orientations or gender identities. 

Krug, the first Iowa attorney to try a jury case in a different gender after she transitioned in 2009, has devoted her life to advocating for other transgender people and traveling the country to promote inclusivity. 

If you go

What: “Gray Area Thinking” inclusivity training and presentation with LGBTQ advocate Ellen Krug
When and where: 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. Colorado Mountain College Steamboat Springs’ Allbright Auditorium and 6:30 to 8:30 p.m at Steamboat Community Center on Tuesday, Sept. 24; and 7:30 to 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 25, at the Heart of Steamboat United Methodist Church
Registration: Free. Attendees are encouraged to sign up online at

On her website, Krug describes “Gray Area Thinking” as a three-part toolset that helps participants interact with diverse people. The first step includes establishing an awareness of another person’s vulnerability to suffering, followed by taking the initiative to alleviate or lessen that suffering. The third step involves having compassion and kindness for others, as well as for oneself. 

Much discrimination, Krug argues, stems from an internal, often unconscious marginalization of a person as an “other,” someone who is seen as different and therefore somehow less human and deserving of respect. 

“Instead, we must consciously work to view everyone as ‘human’ with a need for dignity,” Krug says on her website. 

Becky Slamal, operations manager for the Methodist church in Steamboat, met Krug over the summer. She appreciated Krug’s confidence and her ability to break down complicated topics into easy-to-understand lessons. 

“It seems like she walks into a room and immediately connects and makes anybody feel comfortable,” Slamal said. 

Krug will give three presentations during her visit to Steamboat.

On Tuesday, Sept. 24, she will speak at the Colorado Mountain College Steamboat Springs’ Allbright Auditorium from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m., then at the Steamboat Springs Community Center from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. She will also speak from 7:30 to 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 25 at the Heart of Steamboat United Methodist Church. All of these events are free and open to the public.

On Tuesday, Sept. 24, Krug also will present during two assemblies at Steamboat Springs High School. 

Those planning to attend any of the public events are encouraged to sign up online at

To reach Derek Maiolo, call 970-871-4247, email or follow him on Twitter @derek_maiolo.

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