We hear from trans-activists (including on this blog – see yesterday’s interview with Nick Teich) that one impediment to transgender inclusion in the Jewish community is that many people are unsure what trans inclusion actually looks like. The suggestions below provide a vital entry point for allies seeking tangible steps to make their community more transgender friendly.
These steps are excerpted from a pamphlet created by Rabbis Elliot Kukla, Reuven Zellman and TransTorah, in collaboration with the
Institute for Judaism and Sexual Orientation
and Jewish Mosaic, which in 2010 merged with Keshet.
Share these steps with friends, family, clergy, and others in your community.
Did we miss any? Add your suggestions in the comments section.
“And G-d created the human being in G-d’s own image…”
What Does “Transgender” Mean?
Transgender or trans is a broad term that can encompass anyone who doesn’t identify with the gender they were assigned at birth. This includes people who take medical steps to modify their appearance and those who do not.
Some transmen and transwomen identify completely with their preferred gender (for example, they may have been assigned male gender at birth and raised as a boy but now see themselves as completely female), while other trans people may identify with an alternate gender identity that is neither male nor female.
What’s at Stake?
Transphobia, the fear of gender variation in society, impacts all parts of life. Children who do not gender-conform are often met with physical, verbal and sexual cruelty and are sometimes forced to drop out of school, while youth are frequently disowned by their families and lose economic support. Transgender adults face discrimination in employment, healthcare, and many social services.
The Jewish community is equally impacted by transphobia. As a result, many trans and gender nonconforming individuals feel unwelcome in synagogue and unable to access spiritual care or support.