Jewish and Transgender: The Forward Series

Last week, Chelsea Manning, formerly known as Private first class Bradley Manning, made headlines. Her announcement that she would be living as a woman eclipsed the news of the previous day–her 35 year prison sentence for leaking classified government documents.

The media frenzy was palpable, the sensationalism undeniable. (MSNBC even ran a story tallying which media outlets were still misgendering Chelsea and continuing to refer to her as ‘he.’)

So while the mainstream media was tripping over itself, The Forward was wrapping up a terrific series exploring transgender and Jewish identity in all of its wondrous complexity. The series looked at how Jewish summer camps welcome gender-nonconforming campers, the link between gender transition and conversion for trans Jews by choice, mikveh rituals for transitioning, transgender rabbis who paved the way as well as rabbis still in rabbinical school.

Tomorrow, we talk with editor Naomi Zeveloff about what inspired her to produce this series and what she learned while working on it.

For Transgender Converts, Changing Gender and Finding Faith Come Together
For some transgender converts, turning to Judaism is intrinsically linked to gender transition. The process of soul-searching unearths one truth, then another.

Marking Gender Transition in the Mikveh
When Max Strassfeld helped write a ritual for a friend’s transition, he mapped contemporary ideas about gender onto a very traditional Jewish space — the mikveh.

When Jewish Transgender Teens Come Out of Closet, Many Leave Camp Behind
Summer camp has not always been a welcoming place for transgender Jewish youth. That’s changing as new camps spring up — and existing ones try to be more inclusive.


Elliot Kukla

Reuben Zellman