An Open Letter to Tom and Transgender Teens Everywhere

Last week the story of Tom Chai Sosnik, a teenager that came out as transgender at Tehiyah Day School, his Jewish day school, headlines. Inspired by Tom’s courage, and the need to support transgender and gender expansive teenagers everywhere, Rabbi Becky Silverstein penned an open letter to Tom and teenagers like him. We’re proud to share this letter on Transgender Day of Visibility.

Dear Tom,

Tom Sosnik at his naming ceremony photos/misha bruk


Tom Sosnik at his naming ceremony. photos/misha bruk

As I was preparing my sermon last Friday afternoon, I decided to take a quick Facebook break and saw the video of you addressing your school. I watched it and immediately shared it with my own social network, commenting that “while I don’t know this young man, I have the privilege of knowing others who share a similar story. Almost nothing in the world could make me smile wider than this.”

Tom, we have never and may never meet, and yet I feel as though I know you.

I see in your face the faces of the LGBTQ Jewish teenagers I have had the opportunity to work with in my time as a Jewish educator and rabbi. In your face, I also see a vision of what I want so badly for our Jewish community to be: a place where everyone can be celebrated for the entirety of who they are and where nobody feels the need to hide a piece of their identity.

Tom, in your face I saw the reason why I am out, why I share my story, why I work to make our communities more inclusive. Tom, your courage gave me courage.

This week we will celebrate Passover. In his Torah study this past Shabbat, my colleague and teacher, Rabbi Joshua Levine-Grater, remarked that Passover is not for the risk-averse.

The moments before and during the actual exodus from Egypt were extremely risky. How could the individual Israelites be sure that they would be redeemed? And yet, in order for our story to continue, each individual needed to take a risk, needed to take a leap of faith, and perform the Passover sacrifice.

Posted on March 31, 2015

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