Longtime AirTrain, NYC subway announcer Bernie Wagenblast comes out as transwoman

Anyone who has ever ridden the AirTrain to and from Newark Liberty International Airport, or those who have been waiting for a train on the New York subway system will recognize the voice of Bernie Wagenblast.

Matt Trapani and Naomi Yané

Jun 14, 2023, 12:46 AM

Updated 367 days ago

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A New Jersey native whose voice will be familiar to commuters across the tri-state area is finally getting to live her truth as a transwoman.
Anyone who has ever ridden the AirTrain to and from Newark Liberty International Airport, or those who have been waiting for a train on the New York subway system will recognize the voice of Bernie Wagenblast.
Wagenblast is a longtime voice actor and journalist. But until earlier this year, Bernie, or as she is now known, Bernadette, was still living as Bernard.
“I’ve known about this part of myself from my earliest memories,” Wagenblast says. “But I also quickly learned that this was not acceptable to other people, so I hid, and I kept it hidden pretty much all of my life.”
Growing up in the 1960s and 1970s, Wagenblast says that she didn’t feel that she could safely share this part of her life. She says that the closest she came to publicly coming out was in 1970 when she was 16. She says she told a sibling.
“I told my sister who is six years younger than me that I always wished I was a girl. And I said, ‘Don’t tell mom and dad.’ And of course, what’s the first thing your little sister does? She tells mom and dad,” Wagenblast says. “My parents were kind of cool with it, but I was so afraid that I just denied everything.”
Wagenblast says shared her secret with one more person in 1980.
“The woman that I was dating, I had a pretty good idea that I was going to ask her to marry me, but I felt that if I was going to ask her that and she was going to want to live with me for the rest of our lives, then I needed to share with her this part of me,” Wagenblast says. “We kept together and married and ended up having three daughters.”
Wagenblast, who in addition to having three daughters, has seven grandchildren, privately came out as trans to her daughters in 2017. She says that she is thankful for the support she received at home.
And what would Wagenblast tell young people today experiencing the same struggles?
“One of the things I would tell them is there are people who love you. Hopefully it’s family, but even if it’s not, there are other people out there who love you and can support you,” she says. “and if you do feel safe sharing this with your parents or your loved ones, do so because that can make a world of difference as well.”
Wagenblast says she continues to do voice-over work, and even uses what she called her “guy voice” professionally.


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