Keshet is a national organization that works for LGBTQ equality in Jewish life. The organization equips Jewish leaders with tools to build LGBTQ-affirming communities, creates spaces for queer Jewish teens to feel valued and develop their own leadership skills, and mobilizes the Jewish community to fight for LGBTQ justice. Keshet’s blog spotlights this work, as well as the voices of LGBTQ Jews, our families, and allies.
A few weeks ago, many Jewish communities, mine included, read from Megilat Kohelet (Ecclesiastes) during the holiday of Sukkot. I heard the reading of Kohelet on my sister’s bat mitzvah – the first time I had been to my synagogue for a service since I came out as trans. The writer of Kohelet is believed to be King Solomon, the wisest man ever, and the son of one of the most famous bisexual men ever – King David.
One of the most famous sections in Kohelet is this section, “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven… a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance… a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;”
There is a universal wisdom to these statements, but they are particularly fitting on Trans Day of Remembrance, for the trans community. This day is one of those times where we as a community must weep, mourn, and keep silent in somber remembrance of those who we have lost.
The Advocate keeps a list of trans people murdered in 2016. Their names are Noony Norwood, Simon Bush, Brandi Bledsoe, Jazz Alford, Crystal Edmonds, TT, Lexi T. Sironen, Rae’lynn Thomas, Erykah Tijerina, Skye Mockabee, Dee Whigham, Deeniqua Dodds, “Goddess” Diamond, Amos Beede, Mercedes Successful, Tyreece “Reecey” Walker, Keyonna Blakeney, Shante Isaac, Quartney Davia Dawsonn-Yochum, Kandicee Johnson, Demarkis Stansberry, Maya Young, Veronica Banks Cano, Kayden Clarke, Jasmine Sierra, and Monica Loera. These are the ones we remember because their lives were cut short. There are so many more from outside the US and within it whose names we do not know, including all those who committed suicide after the election results came in.
All of us – cis and trans – must take a moment to mourn those who we’ve lost. Then we have to get up, and fight, because trans people still suffer – the VA scrapped their plan to cover surgeries for trans vets, trans prisoners like Chelsea Manning are abused by a corrupt system, Gavin Grimm and the myriad other trans students cannot use the bathroom in school, many trans people face violence and threats from Trump supporters, and we hear slurs daily – even from within the LGBT community.
It’s times like this where allies must step up and do something. Donate money, volunteer, protest, petitions, awareness, whatever form that help takes – your help is needed. We’ve come so far – don’t let our rights be rolled back without a fight.
A Jewish Guide to Marking Transgender Day of Remembrance
Contains readings, personal stories from transgender people, quotes from rabbinic leaders, and suggested concrete action steps.
Transgender Day of Remembrance Info Sheet
Includes tips for hosting a successful remembrance event, guiding principles, ideas for events, and planning tips.
Shabbat services with liturgy, poems, and other readings specifically compiled for TDOR.
Prayer for Transgender Day of Remembrance
A prayer (in English) written by Rabbi Reuben Zellman on the occasion of TDOR.
Making your Jewish Congregation or Community More Transgender Friendly
A brochure with concrete steps that Jewish communities can take to be more inclusive of their transgender members.
Check out TDOR events happening around the country.
A growing list of events nationwide.
These national, secular resources are available for trans individuals and their loved ones.
A hotline staffed by trans people for trans people.
Pronounced: shuh-BAHT or shah-BAHT, Origin: Hebrew, the Sabbath, from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday.