Religion, Sex & Gender

Liberation and Transgender Jews

A little late as, at least in New York, the sun has set on Pesach and we are on our way into the next Parasha, but I couldn’t pass this up as it didn’t make it onto Radical Torah either. Rabbi Ayelet S. Cohen, the Associate Rabbi of Congregation Beth Simchat Torah (CBST), the world’s largest synagogue serving the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, wrote an important drash on issues impacting trans jews. I actually had the pleasure of being at CBST a few months back for one of the first drashes probably ever given from a bimah by Rabbi Kleinbaum on issues impacting trans jews within the larger Jewish gay and lesbian communities. Thank you to both of them.
Here’s an excerpt:

    Avadim Hayinu l’Pharoh b’mitzrayim.
    The fact that gender is complicated is not a new idea for the Jews. As much as they liked categories, the sages of our tradition were aware of a certain fluidity of gender. While they were limited in their understanding of gender by their focus on biology and sexual acts, we know from the Mishnah that the rabbis were aware of at least four genders.
    But are we so much more highly evolved? Even within the gay and lesbian community transgender people often face ignorance and discrimination. And in the straight world every day they are subjected to ridicule and targeted for discrimination and are too often victims of horrific violence. Again and again transgender people are denied legal protections even as gay men and lesbians are finally achieving them.
    Avadim Hayinu l’Pharoh b’mitzrayim.
    We have a great deal of work to do. While individual transgender people have pursued their own liberation, the transgender community is still very much experiencing mitzrayim.
    One transgender person shared with me what liberation might look like for him: “Liberation from society’s expectations and assumptions, and liberation to become who you are. It’s definitely a journey. And you don’t quite know where you’re going to end up, even if you know that you have to move/change.”

Full commentary here.
For a primer on Transgender Issues, visit here.

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