I, along with being gay and trans and fabulous, am Jewish.Â I wasn’t raised Jewish, I was actually raised batshit-one-step-away-from-cult-Jesus-camp-Pentacostal-Seventh-Day-Adventist-Evangelist-Christian.Â However, I’ve been studying Judaism since I was six and unsatisfied with the answers I was getting from pastors, deacons, priests, nuns, elders, and Sunday school teachers.Â Interestingly enough, most of my Jewish friends have a similar background.Â Apparently we have “Jewish convert” magnets or something.
One thing most people have trouble wrapping their heads around when they find out that I’m Jewish is how I can be gay, trans, and a Jew all at once.Â After all, some of the most strict admonishments against homosexuality can be found in Leviticus and other books of the Old Testament (Sodom and Gomorrah is in Genesis, in case anyone was wondering).Â What they fail to recognise is that most Jews (particularly in the US) follow liberal Reform movements rather than conservative Orthodox ones.Â Being gay and trans isn’t just tolerated, it’s accepted to the point where the Union for Reform Judaism has a special blessing and seder for those who are transitioning.
I have never had a Jewish person — Reform, Orthodox, or otherwise — tell me I am evil for being trans or gay.Â One friend has.Â Once.Â The person ended up being a Jew for Jesus.Â My rabbi and cantor regularly officiate at gay weddings — and have since the early 70s.Â Neither of them batted an eye when I came out to them.Â Really they were more confused by the fact that I have no Jewish heritage or partner and still want to convert.Â The same goes for the members of the congregation I am a part of, they’re far more interested in why I want to convert than what goes on in my pants or what I do in my bedroom.
What about those pesky passages that say man shall not lie with man and women shall not wear the garb of men?Â They’re old.Â They were written based on the social conventions of the time, much like documents from WWII era Germany which claim that Jews are an inferior race.Â We know better now, most of us have moved on.Â Those who haven’t are generally respectful enough to allow the rest of us our opinions — provided, of course, we’re equally respectful to them.
Really my trans history and sexuality never enter the equation.Â The closest I’ve come to anyone caring was when a (well-meaning) father asked if I knew of any places his daughter could find a nice Jewish girl to settle down with.Â It was kind of adorable, even if he did totally miss the “Gay Boy” t-shirt I had on.