Author Archives: Rafi Daugherty

Rafi Daugherty

About Rafi Daugherty

Rafi Daugherty was born in Colorado and raised in Missouri. He moved to New York in 2003, came out as queer in 2004, and trans in 2007. He graduated cum laude with a Bachelors from Hunter College with a major in psychology and a minor in sociology. He received a masters from Tel Aviv University in Crisis and Trauma Studies. While in school, Rafi worked with individuals with development disabilities and homeless New York City youth. He has been a teacher for Limmud NY and Nehirim about transgender issues. He is happy to be part of Keshet’s Denver office and to help strengthen LGBTQ Jewish life in Colorado.

A Personal Message about Transgender Day of Remembrance

Rafi Daugherty

Rafi Daugherty

When I was growing up, as a little girl in the Orthodox Jewish community, I would stare longingly over the mechitza feeling betrayed by G-d for giving me a body that didn’t feel congruent with my soul. I never imagined that one day I would feel right in my body, accepted in my community, and able to walk freely in the world as a Jewish man.

This year, Jewish organizations across the U.S. are joining together to keep broadening and deepening that acceptance by observing Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR).

Observed annually on November 20th, Transgender Day of Remembrance was established as a day set aside for remembering the lives of those gender non-conforming individuals who were viciously murdered for being themselves. It is sometimes hard for us to make the leap between thinking about people being murdered and what that has to do with our community or with us. We think, “No one I know would ever murder a transgender person!” While that may be true, I challenge us all to ask ourselves:

What else can we take away from this day?

Most transgender people spend years hiding and fearing “coming out” because they do not have a community where they know they will be accepted. Many transgender people, like myself, have used drugs and alcohol to numb the pain of being “different,” and even contemplate suicide to escape from making the heart-wrenching choice between family and being true to themselves. Sometimes I wonder how my life would have been different if I could have known as a child that I could be myself and also be a part of my community. . . .

I hope this day inspires us to ask ourselves:

*How can we make our community the type of community where a transgender child or adult will feel that they can safely express who they are and not only will we not shun them, we will love and embrace them, and encourage them down their chosen path?

*How can we use this day to bring an end to the silence around gender expression that might be allowing bullying in our Hebrew schools?

*How might we bring awareness to the issue of bathroom safety for gender non-conforming individuals in our institutions?

*How can we widen the arms of our communities’ embrace so that it can enfold the most stigmatized and ostracized individuals and bring them closer to G-d, to Judaism, and to themselves?

I ask you to take a moment to think about how you might use this day to find a way to make a difference. Next week we’ll share resources to help the Jewish community mark this day.

Posted on November 14, 2013

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on MyJewishLearning are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

My Jewish Transgender Journey

We know that this post is much longer than our usual posts. We do hope you’ll stick with it to the end – Rafi’s story is very compelling. We promise it will be worth your time!

(This talk was delivered at Bonai Shalom, Boulder, Colorado, November 2, 2012)

My name is Rafi. I am a transgender Jewish man. This means that I was born female and transitioned to male. Thanks to advances in medical science, this is not something that you can see when you look at me. I’m an appropriate height for a (Jewish) male, I have lots of facial hair and other fur, my voice has deepened to the level of a higher-pitched male. For the most part, I “pass” as a dude.

Rafi Daugherty

Rafi Daugherty

When I was a little girl growing up in Colorado, I felt there was something different about me. I yearned with all of my heart to be a boy. I wasn’t particularly masculine as a child. Although I did love going fishing and “fixing things” with my father, my favorite colors were pink and purple, I played with baby dolls almost exclusively, I loved drawing and coloring, and playing make-believe games with friends. But at night, when I was about to go to sleep, I would pray, “Dear G-d, please make me a boy,” and was disappointed when I awoke and was still very much a girl. Continue reading

Posted on November 14, 2012

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on MyJewishLearning are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

Privacy Policy