Jewish daily newspaper highlights transgender rabbis in new series

The Forward, a daily Jewish newspaper available online, has published a series of profiles on six transgender rabbis and rabbis-in-training. Calling transgender issues the “new frontier” for the mainstream non-Orthodox community that has worked to embrace lesbian and gay members, the Forward notes that the number of out transgender rabbis is expected to grow from three to six in the coming years.

Among those featured in the series are: Rabbi Elliot Kukla, the first out transgender rabbi to be ordained in 2006 now serving as a chaplain at the Bay Area Jewish Healing Center; Rabbi Emily Aviva Kapor, currently the only out trans woman rabbi, who blogs at Planting Rainbows; Rabbi Reuben Zellman, an assistant rabbi and music instructor at Congregation Beth El in Berkeley; Jacob Lieberman, a fourth-year student at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in Wyncote, PA.; Leiah Moser, a third-year rabbinical student at RRC; and Ari Lev Fornari, a fifth-year rabbinical student at Hebrew College.

While these rabbis and rabbis-in-training are changing the landscape for transgender Jewish people, Jewish law still poses obstacles for the trans community. A 2003 decision by the Conservative movement has made it compulsory for transgender people to have had sex-reassignment surgery in order to be recognized as the gender with which they identify. Leonard Sharzer, a bioethicist at the Jewish Theological Center, has written a legal opinion calling for a change to this policy.

You can read the Forward's full series online here. GLAAD urges the media to continue reporting on LGBT-affirming faith voices wihtin Judaism.