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‘Times have changed’: New York veteran subway announcer comes out as transgender | New York

One of the first words millions of commuting New Yorkers hear each morning is former traffic reporter Bernie Wagenblast’s cautious tone of caution to stay off the edge of the platform. Also known as the “Voice of New York,” Wagenblast reminds JFK or Newark AirTrain passengers that their doors are closed, and features episodes about infrastructure, such as episodes about bridges in Ohio and wildlife crosswalks in Oregon. I host a podcast. But the neutral Pan-American male voice, honed by years of practice to give clarity and authority but not alarm, is changing.

Earlier this year, Wagenbrust, 66, went on the radio to come out as a transgender woman, and this month she has been cheering on celebrations of American pride, including marching in Asbury Park on the Jersey Shore. . Wagenblast is still Bernie, but now comes from Bernadette instead of Bernard.

Wagenblast began her activism as a woman just as the United States was embroiled in a dispute over laws governing transgender people. 19 states are Pass medical restrictionsand controversies over transgender representation run through America’s corporate, sports, and drug performances every week.

“One of the things I love about transportation is that it’s not a terribly partisan issue,” Wagenblast says. Wagenbrust said he knew he was not his biological sex when he was four years old. “If I were a teenager today, I would feel more comfortable talking to my parents than I did in the 1960s. I wish I had an adolescent blocker.” [then]. I want that kind of consideration. It took a lot of effort to get my voice to what it is today. ”

Vocally, the Wagenblast can achieve both a low register “male voice” and a female high register, timbre and tone, giving transportation options. “I’m still comfortable with using male voices. If Newark needed an up-to-date recording for the Airtrain, I didn’t want to have two different voices for different segments. But if I I have to say that I have several options when it comes to working on a new project.”

After all, the subway isn’t the ideal place for self-expression, but “consistency is key so it doesn’t sound like a song,” she says.

There are other changes she has noticed using the transport system. “My body had estrogen instead of testosterone, so I definitely needed the help of a conductor with a heavy suitcase. plug.

The Wagenblast announcement is a familiar classic of commuters waiting for the L train in New York City. Photo: Mark Lenihan/AP

“I recognize that I have benefited from male privilege all my life. If I had been assigned as a woman at birth, I would not have had the career I enjoyed.” And obviously I didn’t have to worry about getting pregnant, but I’m never going to be a woman to benefit from the benefits gained by feminists.”

She has received support, even casually, from acquaintances. She’s been equally supportive by her friends at Catholic University, and has had no trouble working with her high school classmates for their 50th reunion. “It’s great,” she says. “Times have changed.” Hate comments only come from people who don’t know her, she says.

Her relationships with female colleagues have also benefited from her public presentations, she said. “They made me feel comfortable and that was one of my great joys,” Wagenbrust said in a radio announcement in January that she was not going to be offended by the mishandling. she made it clear.

“When I came out, I said don’t worry about accidentally offending me with the wrong words or pronouns,” she says. “It’s just part of the growing understanding of transgender people. I don’t want people to feel like they’re walking on eggshells, and I don’t want them to be canceled even if I don’t quote them.” I don’t think so.”

One of the side effects of the public transition, she hopes, will be to encourage those who haven’t been out yet. She says that whenever someone hears her voice in a subway station, they will know that LGBTQ people are a part of everyday life. “We’re not just people on TV or somewhere else you read about, we’re a complex part of our everyday lives. I think that’s going to be a huge force.” ‘Times have changed’: New York veteran subway announcer comes out as transgender | New York

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