More Than Just a ‘Trans Journalist’

Introducing myself — journalist Katelyn Burns

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The writer — Katelyn Burns. Credit: Katelyn Burns

All I remember is that I was supposed to be covering a congressional hearing about some abortion-related issue inside the US Capitol one July day in 2018. It was about 15 minutes after the world learned that Justice Anthony Kennedy — the swing vote in, to that point, the most consequential queer legal case in US history — announced his retirement from the Supreme Court.

I had also just received some disturbing personal news. It’s the type of story I am reluctant now to tell in full, given all I’ve been through but to see it in that moment threw me for a total loop.

I quickly texted my editor, telling her I was unsure if I could sit through the hearing and she let me go home for the day. Before I left the Capitol, I went to the ladies room to compose myself, taking a moment to quietly sob in a stall.

Just then the most DC thing happened.

A young woman in the stall next to me quietly asked if I was okay. Between sniffles I choked out a “no.” There was a long pause.

“Don’t worry hun, we’ll stop their Supreme Court nominee,” came the reply.

I couldn’t help but let out a chuckle. That’s not why I was crying, but knowing strangers were looking out for me was genuinely affirming when I really needed it.

I’ve written countless personal essays on everything from my divorce, to being a trans parent, to my experience as a trans woman in the US health care system. But I still find it difficult to write about myself.

I was asked to write an intro post, but what is there to say? People know me as a “trans reporter.” And why wouldn’t they? I mean my Twitter handle is literally @transscribe — trans scribe, “trans writer.”

I think I pigeonholed myself with that handle and every so often I check to see if my name opens up for a username on the platform.

And while the bulk of my career has been spent writing about trans issues, specifically trans politics in the Trump era, I also have a wide range of work on other issues and topics.

I’ve written about gaming, protests against racial injustice, politics, and I’ve even explained accusations financial malfeasance by lawmakers. I’ve broken White House and Trump administration news. People don’t realize that I was once a licensed stock broker and banker before I became a journalist.

I have two children, 6 and 10 years old, though I tend to keep that part of my life to myself these days. I grew up in New England and yearn to return there when I can afford to move again.

I also occasionally stream myself playing Overwatch on Twitch (it’s been keeping me sane living alone in my DC apartment in a pandemic).

So that’s me, in a nutshell.

In this space, I have some specific plans: you can expect a weekly recurring piece, “This week in trans news,” where I give links to what I see as important trans news items, along with some analysis of the biggest headlines. I’m planning on publishing this every Tuesday, so keep an eye out for that.

Beyond that, I have nothing specific in mind. I’ll be writing 2–3 pieces every week basically on whatever strikes my fancy. The powers that be at Medium have even encouraged me to write about Overwatch, so I’ll probably do a bit of that along the way.

Welcome, drop a follow here, and follow my Twitter account when you have a moment.

Political journalist. The first openly trans Capitol Hill reporter in US history. Writing about more than just trans issues. Follow her on Twitter @transscribe

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