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  WINDY CITY TIMES

Christine Hallquist talks about 'Denial' documentary
By Danielle Solzman
2018-12-14

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A few weeks ago, Windy City Times had talked with former Vermont gubernatorial candidate Christine D. Hallquist about a new documentary, Denial.

The film covers Hallquist's energy work while also confronting her gender transition, all the while serving as the CEO of Vermont Electric Cooperative. In coming out as transgender, Hallquist became the first major U.S. CEO of any company to do so.

Denial is currently available to rent or buy on VOD platforms.

Windy City Times: When your son announced plans to start filming you for Denial, did you ever think that he would also be filming you as you started your public transition?

Christine Hallquist: In fact in the beginning, we didn't have this public transition actually in the schedule.

WCT: When did you come out to your family and when did filming start?

CH: He started fooling around 2010 and I came out to the family in late 2012.

WCT: Your story is fascinating since you're the first major American CEO to come out as transgender while holding that office. What led you to ultimately do so in 2015?

CH: What happened was when I reached my late 40s, I started to feel really, really guilty and my children didn't know the most important truth about me, and I decided at that time I would transition. I didn't have a time schedule in mind, but I knew before I leave the earth that I wanted to tell the truth. I'd spent several years in counseling with my spouse and then I came out to the children. I also started my own counseling with a transgender counselor in 2010.

The real thing that set the schedule in 2010, I said to my counselor—she asked me what my goal was. I told her, "Well, as a man, I'm a strong leader with a level of confidence." Anyway, I was really confident as a male leader but Christine was kind of kryptonite to David, because as a female, I lacked confidence and was full of shame. We spent five years working on it and it was 2015 when I felt ready to transition—which is why I transitioned that year. I was pretty amazed that all that work paid off, that ultimately I felt a very competent strong leader in Christine.

WCT: This film covers quite a bit of your work on the energy front. Where are we going right now and what still needs to change?

CH: Well, we still have to solve climate change, that's for sure. That was my passion and continues to be my passion, but the events of November 9, 2016, really changed everything for me. And of course, I went into political depression and in the following year—2017—I did a lot of marching. I marched at the Women's March down in Washington and the Climate March down in Washington. Ultimately, things weren't changing. On January 20, 2018, I was down at the youth march in Montpelier, our state capital, where I listened to four young women—they were high school seniors—who called themselves Muslim Girls Making Change. They were doing slam poetry on what it was like to live abroad and face the harassment they face every day in schools in their community. That's when I decided—and kind of made the irrational decision—to run for governor.

WCT: Now that the gubernatorial campaign is over, what are you looking forward to doing going forward?

CH: I have to make a living, so I'm in the process of figuring that out.

WCT: What's the most important thing that you want people to take away from watching the documentary?

CH: I want people to walk away from that knowing that we can solve these big problems. I'm hoping people can walk away with hope about the future.

WCT: If you had a time machine, what would you tell your younger self?

CH: I'm not sure I would tell my younger self anything. It's one of those things where—as I said in the movie—you can't really change history. You make your decisions based on what you know at the time. I guess I wouldn't change anything.

WCT: What message—if any—do you have for transgender youth?

CH: My message is to do whatever you can to become your authentic self and make sure you get help in doing it. I just can't imagine how I made this transition. I don't think I could have done it on my own. So you know whatever help you can find. I was fortunately in a position that I was able to afford and pay for counseling. But even if you can't afford counseling, find your nearest private center and get help—get support groups. I just don't see how you can make this kind of a transition without help. For me, it was harder than facing my own death. As you saw in the movie, I did have to face cancer, but frankly facing transition was harder than that.

WCT: When you did tell your family—were you afraid of losing them?

CH: I was afraid of losing everything but the truth was more important. I was afraid of losing my job. I was afraid of losing my home, my family and ending up homeless. But on the contrary, just the opposite happened. That was certainly my fear.


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