Former NJ 101.5 traffic reporter comes out as transgender
For many of us, the new year brings about changes. Changes in how we act, changes in how we live, and resolutions that we hope will make us happier.
For Bernie Wagenblast, a former New Jersey 101.5 and PST traffic reporter whose voice was heard by countless commuters on the New York City Subway and PATCO Speedline as well as by travelers who tapped into the information systems at Newark Airport and the PATH, the new year will bring about the biggest change.
Wagenblast has announced on Facebook that she is transgender and will begin living life as a woman starting Jan. 1.
Wagenblast, who grew up and still lives in Cranford, graduated from Seton Hall University, worked for Total Traffic from 2009-18 and as part of her job provided traffic reports to New Jersey 101.5. She now owns Bernie Wagenblast Communications.
Bernie is well-liked in the broadcast industry and says she will keep the name Bernie, which she considers now short for "Bernadette." She also asks for patience with the transition.
"Please don't worry about saying the wrong thing or offending me unintentionally. I realize everyone who knows me will be making an adjustment," she said.
(In an earlier version of this post, we slipped and used the wrong pronoun for Bernie, who we've known for so many years.)
I spoke with Bernie through email about the transition.
What made you come out now?
"I'd say a combination of things but the most important is that I could no longer suppress that part of who I am. I've known I am trans from early childhood and while it always was an issue that caused me discomfort, it finally reached the point where if I tried to keep it in check I believe it would have caused serious depression."
What has the reaction been?
"So far, the reaction has been about 99.9% positive. I suspect that some people who don't know me personally will have a negative reaction, but so far (as of 5:30 pm 12/31) that hasn't been a problem."
"Not really. If I were a young person in 2023 I probably would transition at an early age but that wasn't feasible in the 1960s and '70s when I was growing up. Additionally, if I somehow had managed to transition back then I would have missed my three daughters and seven grandkids, as well as a wonderful life with my wife.
What would you say to those struggling with coming out?
"I would recommend they seek help from wherever it's available. Hopefully, family is there to help and to at least listen. Being trans can take a toll on your mental health so professional help is very beneficial. Someone who has experience dealing with trans issues can help you determine what you need to do and can point you toward resources that can help."
"There is no one way to handle being trans. For some, it's something they can keep in check all of their lives without taking any transition steps. For others, having a limited transition may be all that is needed."
There are many resources available online but you should be careful that you use reputable sources. One place to turn is Trans Lifeline (877-565-8860).
Opinions expressed in the post above are those of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Steve Trevelise only. Follow him on Twitter @realstevetrev.
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