Bernie Wagenblast, out trans ‘voice of the subway,’ rolls out podcast and visibility campaign

March 29, 2024
By: Donna Aceto & Matt Tracy

Ken Lustbader, Finn Brigham and Patrick McGovern, Bernie Wagenblast pose with billboard
From left to right: Ken Lustbader of the LGBT Historic Sites Project; Finn Brigham and Patrick McGovern of Callen-Lorde Community Health Center; and Bernie Wagenblast at the Christopher Street-Sheridan Square station.

Millions of subway riders have heard Bernie Wagenblast’s voice, but only a small fraction of straphangers know who she is. That’s all about to change!

Wagenblast, who is known as the “voice of the subway” and came out as transgender last year, is stepping into the spotlight for a new transgender awareness campaign that will feature a podcast mini-series, hosted by Wagenblast herself, called “InTransit.”
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The new campaign was announced on March 29 — just in time for International Transgender Day of Visibility on March 31 — at the Christopher Street-Sheridan Square subway station, where the installation includes posters and digital billboards to spread trans-inclusive messages and inform riders about the forthcoming podcast. The podcast — which already has two episodes on Spotify — aims to educate members of the public about gender identity, appropriate language, and more.

Bernie Wagenblast
Bernie Wagenblast.

Wagenblast joined stakeholders at the Christopher Street-Sheridan Square station on March 29 to roll out the campaign. AREA 23, a healthcare marketing agency, created the campaign with support from Callen-Lorde Community Health Center and the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project.

“I know how much visibility matters and I hope, by sharing my story, folks will be reminded that transgender people are a part of their everyday life each time they hear me making an announcement,” Wagenblast said in a written statement announcing the new campaign.

As for the campaign itself, it is hard to miss for any rider passing through the station. In one area of the station, back-to-back-to-back digital screens perched on the wall combine into one animation that reads, “The voice that has guided people in transit will now guide you to understand trans people,” followed by a promotional message previewing the podcast.

A set of digital billboards highlight the awareness campaign
A set of digital billboards highlight the awareness campaign.

The station also has a billboard painted on the wall, stating, “A new way to see trans people: listening.” The bottom corner of the ad showcases the logo for the podcast, while the top corner features a QR code for easy digital access.

“This is an opportunity to share Bernie’s story as a way to help raise visibility for transgender people and celebrate their contributions and milestones while also raising awareness for the discrimination that many face around the globe,” David Taini, the group creative director at Area 23, said in a written statement.

Campaign posters on TDOV
The campaign also features posters on the wall in the station.

Ken Lustbader, who is the co-director of the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project, acknowledged that the announcement coincided with International Transgender Day of Visibility.

“As we recognize Transgender Day of Visibility, it’s crucial to also understand that trans people have always existed, making their own history as they pursue healthy, safe, and joyful lives,” Lustbader said in a written statement. “‘In Transit’ and the T Line have the power to introduce large numbers of New Yorkers to place-based trans history, right here in their own city. From the 19th century residence of Murray Hall to medical offices where ground-breaking care was provided as early as the 1940s, these extant sites allow for a visceral connection to an often overlooked history.”

Patrick McGovern, the CEO of Callen-Lorde Community Health Center, stressed the importance of the visibility campaign in the face of transphobia across the country.

“The resilience of the trans community has paved the way for LGBTQ+ rights across the country, and their stories deserve to be amplified and celebrated,” McGovern said. “At a time when LGBTQ+ healthcare is under attack, Callen-Lorde is proud to serve as a safe haven for queer and trans people who need knowledgeable and welcoming healthcare–as we have for more than 55 years.”

Read the original story at Gay City News here.