Ellen Bertels Shares “Joyful Work” Advocating for Trans Kansans

Ellen Bertels (’21), Attorney at Kansas Legal Services and Co-Founder of the Kansas Name Change Project, contributed an opinion to Kansas Reflector discussing her fellowship work providing free legal representation to transgender, nonbinary, and gender-diverse Kansans seeking name changes and other civil legal services (“Name Change Project Simplifies a Complex, Emotional Process for Transgender Kansans,” Dec. 20). “This is joyful work. As a cisgender woman, I can’t speak to the feeling of finalizing accurate, affirming IDs. But I can tell you that every time I watch a judge sign a name change order, it is cause for celebration. . . . I have the privilege to know and work with people who care for their community, care for their families, and fight for the dignity and freedom of Kansas’ LGBTQ community. Advocates for LGBTQ equality in Kansas work to put food on the table; they work to build communities that unconditionally support Kansans of all identities. I am lucky to work alongside them.”