Madeline Johnson is radiating happiness. Which isn’t surprising — she’s got a lot to be happy about.
“It’s amazing how much has happened in two years, how different life is and how much the world is opening up. Once we become ourselves, the world begins to become a beautiful place,” Johnson says.
Two years ago, Johnson committed to transitioning, and since then, she has blossomed both personally and professionally.
“I’ve seen a lot of growth in my law practice since I came out,” she says.
Johnson owns her own private practice, Madeline Johnson LLC, which proudly serves the LGBT community in Kansas City, addressing a variety of legal needs.
“I consider myself a litigator,” she says. “I love the courtroom. I love the action that goes on there. I love to argue! I like to stand up for my clients and fight. … About 50 percent of my clients are trans people. That’s the most rewarding part of my job — advocating for the LGBT community.”
Her law practice is only one of her successful businesses. She also is a brand partner with Nerium International, a skin-care company that extols the ant-aging properties of nerium oleander.
“Nerium Biotechnology was looking for a cure for skin cancer, and they found this instead,” she says. Considering that Johnson looks significantly younger than the age she reports, she makes for an excellent spokesperson.
However, Johnson’s radiance isn’t just on the surface.
“It’s so much easier and so much more fun to make friends and meet new people. I’m much more of a social butterfly now. I was very reserved before. … I love life now!” she says.
Johnson has also become an important part of the transgender advocacy community in Kansas City, speaking at businesses, colleges, and even religious institutions.
“I’m compelled more and more to get involved, to be more active and be more of an advocate. … This is taking on a life of its own, and I love it,” she says.
She is also the chairwoman of the board at the Justice Project, a nonprofit that focuses on helping cisgender and transgender women in poverty in Kansas City. Most of the group’s work is geared toward those in the sex industry.
“We help them address needs that will help them get into legitimate lines of work. We address homelessness, dependency issues, legal issues.”
Johnson is the first transgender member of the Mid-America Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce.
“The most fun part of the chamber for me is the people. Meeting new people, the new friends I’m making and connecting with people. … I feel like people in our community are so much more authentic. There’s something in the coming-out process that everyone goes through, where you think, ‘I’m going to be me, no matter what the haters say.’”
Johnson wasn’t always in such a good place in life, though. She speaks quietly and honestly about how difficult life was before her transition.
“There was a lot of fear around being myself,” she says. “I think I would tell young trans [people>, no matter how frightening and intimidating it seems at the start, you’re going to come out better than you think you will. You’re going to look better than you think you will. … It gets better.
“We should not be ashamed of who we are. There’s no shame in being yourself. Be who you were born to be. God made me this way. I’m not sure why yet, but that’s my journey. I know that I’m me for a reason.”
Photo credit: Landon Vonderschmidt
The Mid-America Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (MAGLCC) is an organization that advocates, promotes and facilitates the success of the LGBT business community and its allies. Learn more atMAGLCC.org.