As GLAAD marks Transgender Awareness Week, we lift up the lives and realities of transgender people. The best way to learn about transgender people is to listen to their own stories. GLAAD also encourages media outlets to highlight various aspects of the lives and realities of transgender people. We commend one Jewish publication for doing just that.
Gay and lesbian Jews have found a more prominent place in a diverse spectrum of Jewish traditions over the past twenty years, but transgender Jews often feel that they must still search as individuals to figure out where they fit in. The Jewish Daily Forward highlighted a gathering of trans Jews from across North America in Berkeley, Calif. to address how Jewish communities welcome – or don’t – their transgender friends, family, and coreligionists.
The retreat, hosted by Nehirim, an organization that offers support to LGBT Jews, offered seminars entitled “Being a Jewish Gender Outlaw,” “Being Transgender Is Kosher: Beyond the Binary in Ancient Jewish Texts” and “Does Judaism Love Your Body?” and addressed questions about how to navigate Jewish traditions, especially those relating to traditional gender roles and expectations, as a trans person.
In attendance was Joy Ladin, the first transgender person to teach at an Orthodox university (Ladin waited until she had tenure at New York’s Yeshiva University before transitioning), who was featured in the Jewish Daily Forward’s 2012 Forward 50 list.
Nehirim is one of several organizations, along with Keshet, Jewish Transitions, and TransTorah, that help LGBT Jews find safe, welcoming communities. And welcoming congregations are becoming more common. The Reform and Reconstructinist movements both ordain trans rabbis; Conservative and Orthodox communities are still struggling with full acceptance, but have issued declarations on acceptance for those who have transitioned.
Throughout Transgender Awareness Week, GLAAD will continue to highlight stories of transgender individuals. The Religion, Faith & Values program thanks the Jewish Daily Forward for highlighting the story of transgender Jews. We will also continue to bring you transgender stories from a faith perspective.