BOSTON – Transgender issues are in the political and cultural fore, making news on a daily basis. Perhaps the cultural shift underwent its most seismic change last July, when Caityln Jenner, formerly known as Olympian Bruce Jenner, courageously revealed her new identity as a woman. There are current legal and political battles and backlash over transgender bathrooms and transgender rights in states like North Carolina and Alabama. Sports talk radio is talking about the issue, after a controversial Facebook post by Curt Schilling (ESPN fired him), and the debate has even spilled onto the Presidential campaign trail. Some are calling the fight for transgender rights, “the next big civil rights movement in this country,” and clearly the movement, and counter-movements are no longer hypothetical; It is already underway.
Here in Boston this week, lawmakers worked on a bill that would provide new protections for transgender people in public places, while at Boston City Hall Plaza, a transgender flag was symbolically raised in support of transgender rights with the blessing of Mayor Marty Walsh. Now WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Laurie Kirby brings you a story that is personal to the WBZ family and its radio listeners. It is a story of a big name in Boston broadcasting who is changing names.
Whether it’s a crash, breakdown or rollover, Scott Eck describes the roads for us every day from up above in the WBZ copter. Scott is a 19 year veteran of Boston Traffic reporting, but just like the highways, the road of life can be full of bumps, detours and surprises. Now, Scott is describing his personal road for us and sharing a journey that’s taking him on a new road.
“My new name is Kristen Eck,” she said, “and my new identity is female.”
Kristen has been transitioning with the help of Fenway Health transgender counseling services and hormone therapy for the better part of a year. But it’s a decision decades in the making.
“This has been a journey of sorts that I’ve been on for the last 40 years of my life,” Kristen explained. “It was when I was about 5 years old that something clicked in my head and I realized that I was different from most of the other kids around me. There was something from deep within me that said, ‘this isn’t my body,’ or this isn’t the body that I’m supposed to have. I felt very genuinely and very deeply that I was supposed to be a girl.”
The first time she came out was 1995, after years of turmoil, confusion, and shame. Known at the time as an attractive male with fantastic long blonde hair and a deep radio voice, Scott was living with his girlfriend on Cape Cod.
“I said to her, ‘This is who I am. I am a female who’s been trapped inside of this body all this time, and I don’t want to keep it hidden any longer.'”
At the time, transgender issues were not on the forefront of the conversation.
“There was little information out there, and really hard to find someone to talk to professionally about it,” Kristen said.
She knew she had to align her heart and mind with her body, but it was when her body began to rebel in February 2015, that she decided to do something about it.
“It started with a tooth,” Kristen explained. “I had been grinding my teeth, I hadn’t seen a dentist or doctor for years. I was overweight and smoking more than a pack-and-a-half of cigarettes a day. I didn’t like myself because I was not embracing who I truly was. I was running away from it.”
Her new primary care physician told her she needed to talk to somebody and do something about it, and she did.
This “woman in the mirror” moment happened two months after Caitlyn Jenner’s stunning and courageous announcement that her former identity as Bruce Jenner, an archetype of male strength, athleticism and power, was no more; that he was now a she in mind, soul, and body. The nation had to deal with the conversation that so many transgender people were never allowed to have, even with the closest members of their families.
Kristen begins her new life now as a woman. She hopes in a year to have sex reassignment surgery. While you will notice a change in her signature sign off from the WBZ copter, from Scott Eck to Kristen Eck, you won’t notice any change in the voice.
“A lot of people were wondering about that, saying if you’re making this transition, if you’re becoming Kristen, does your voice go away? And it doesn’t. It’ll be the same voice that you hear every day in the helicopter; that you’ve been hearing every day in the helicopter. That stays the same. The sense of humor stays the same – for better or worse. My love of doing this [radio] stays the same. So there are a lot of things that won’t change at all.”
WBZ Director of News and Programming Peter Casey felt it important to share this story with listeners because it has obvious implications for the WBZ audience.
“Kristen is an on-air WBZ personality, and the name is changing from Scott to Kristen. I think the listeners deserve an answer, because they would certainly have that question in their minds, because the voice is the same,” he said. “I think just as we welcomed Scott Eck to WBZ 19 years ago, we also welcome Kristen Eck with the same enthusiasm, support and encouragement as we would any new voice on the radio station.”
Kristen said with her secret now out, it’s the happiest and healthiest she’s ever been.