A community member recently shared with me:
“When I was growing up, I had never heard the word ‘transgender.’ I felt like I was a failure at being a girl, but did not know that there were other possibilities. The first time I heard of the concept was in a TV show that featured a trans man. But I resisted identifying with that concept for a long time because the character on that show didn’t really have any other personality traits besides being transgender – and suffering and struggling because of it. When I first met another transgender adult, someone who was multifaceted, whole, and happy, it was like my world opened up. I could finally hear the word ‘trans’ not as an invective or guarantee of hardship but as a neutral descriptive term that fit just right.”
I felt chills down my spine, as these words reflected so much of my own experience as a trans person. I, too, remember every book, every performance, every story in which I could see myself as a young adult. And at that time, they were few and far between, and too often reflected trans life as a story of suffering, resilience, or tragedy. And what I most craved was stories of wholeness, stories of joy, and stories that opened up possibility.
Joyful visibility makes a concrete difference for many of us and for transgender youth growing up today. In 2009, transgender activist Rachel Crandall invited others to celebrate the first Transgender Day of Visibility (TDOV), a day to celebrate the joys of being trans and offer our stories as a source of support for one another. In the years since, TDOV has become an opportunity for individuals and organizations to celebrate trans life. For those of us who are able to safely be publicly visible as trans, this day is an opportunity to build a safer and more affirming world for the next generations.
Starting on April 14th, I will be leading a three-part course “In God’s Image: LGBTQ dignity and the Jewish Community” with Randi Reed, Keshet Bay Area’s Educations and Training Manager. We will explore LGBTQ+ language, identity, and inclusion, not only in our secular world but also in our Jewish community. Participants will leave with a better understanding of the LGBTQ+ community and how to be an ally. We will help learners discover the rich LGBTQ+ and Jewish history and how they intertwine. Finally, participants will deep-dive into Talmud and Torah texts on gender and find a new lens to read these ancient writings.
We hope to see you there! Wishing you all a sweet and liberatory Passover and a happy Transgender Day of Visibility.
Rabbi Micah Buck-Yael
Keshet Director of Education and Training
Pronouns: he/him or they/them