Markie Anna Wenzel / Mark Anthony Wenzel

by | Jan 1, 2024 | 0 comments

Mark Anthony Wenzel was born in Green Bay and graduated from UW-Oshkosh in 1983.  He spent most of his life on Milwaukee’s South Side. While living in Milwaukee, Mark married, raised three children, and became a licensed minister.

Mark lived a life governed by his fundamentalist Baptist faith, although his spiritual and emotional conflicts with religion continued to escalate over time. In 2006, he finally accepted an essential truth about himself that he’d long denied. After 20 years of marriage, Mark came out as Markie, a transgender woman, at age 46. This courageous move cost Markie everything she deeply valued: banished from her church, outcast by her community, divorced from her wife, alienated from her children and grandchildren.  As a seven-foot-tall woman, Markie found it difficult to blend into a society governed by rigid expectations of gender identity, expression, and appearance.

For the next decade, Markie bravely pursued a new life while working as a TSA agent at Mitchell International Airport and preparing for gender affirmation surgery. While preparing for surgery, she was misgendered by the scheduling staff, and felt that she would never pass as a woman.

“God does not want this for me,” she told herself.

After this crisis in faith, Markie decided to detransition and return to a male life as Mark. Mark “buried” his female identity at a cemetery plot, reconnected with his family, and rejoined his evangelical community.

Filmmaker Matt Kliegman chronicled this journey in the award-winning 2019 film, “Markie In Milwaukee,” which offered “intimate and voyeuristic, tragic and hopeful” insights into Markie’s unique experience. The movie opened October 19, 2019 at the Milwaukee Film Festival.  Soon, it received rave reviews from local and state media, as well as the New York Times, Boston Globe, Huffington Post, Los Angeles Times, and Film Review Daily. It was named one of the best documentaries of the year.  Today, the film is available on multiple streaming channels, including Vimeo.

The film ends on an ambiguous note, hinting that Markie was not gone forever. It appears that Markie only returned to a male identity for a very short time.  After resuming hormones in September 2021, Markie again began pursuing a physical transition. This time, she refused to leave her church. She maintained a very difficult balance—“one foot in the church, and one foot out”—for the rest of her life.

“I had to finally realize,” Markie wrote on December 10, 2021, “as much as I ran and hid and denied and fought, I indeed was running from myself. It is not what I want to be. But this is who I always have been. And YES IT IS OK.”

Sadly, Markie Wenzel died in December 2023 at age 63. No obituary was published and no cause is known.

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