Beth's Blog

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

I wasn't actually going to do this.

Does anyone really need to know that there are transfolk who are frum? What good can come from that? Frum gays and lesbians have enough of a hard time in the frum community... those of us who have changed sex aren't even on the radar.

So much of the Torah depends on whether a person is male or female. And even if the modern Western world is all about blurring distinctions, the Torah is about the exact opposite. Differentiation, respecting the distinctions between things and dealing with the reality of those distinctions, is probably the most basic concept in all of Judaism.

We differentiate between the sacred and the profane, between light and dark, between Jews and non-Jews, between Kohanim, Leviim and Yisraelim, and yes, between male and female.

So how are we supposed to deal with someone who jumps the line from one category to another? You can't become a Kohen if you aren't born one, for instance. And the difference between male and female is much more extreme than that between Kohanim and Zarim.

Personally, I don't usually think a lot about the fact that I grew up as a boy. It's been more than 11 years now since I transitioned, and life is just too short to get hung up on all that stuff. But it does come up. A woman on a forum I participate in found out and started referring to me by an abbreviation, because she thought that calling me "Beth" was wrong. Ultimately, she checked with her rav, who told her that "her analysis was flawed". But her first reaction was to deny me even my own name.

A person I know... who I knew for a very short time about 10 years ago, recently decided to transition. She's frum, too. We do exist. And while some of us have given up, eventually, there are those of us who insist on remaining frum. Who refuse to allow this one aspect of ourselves to be an excuse to abandon Hashem's Torah.

I spoke today with a friend of this friend. A guy who cares about my friend a lot, and wanted to try and understand some things. One of the things he said was that people on my friend's blog had gotten the impression -- from me! -- that Rabbi Eliezer Yehuda Waldenberg, author of the Tzitz Eliezer, said it's okay, halakhically, to transition. That upset me, because I know I've never even intimated that such a thing is the case.

So I thought to myself, maybe there should be a place where people can ask questions. My friend's blog isn't a good place for that. The feelings are too raw. And to the extent that the blog exists, it's her blog, and it should be about her. But this... this is my blog. I can do anything I like with it, really. I can post dumb jokes on it every day. I can go and get a cat and post boring pictures of my cat doing cat-things every day. I can let it lay fallow and never post on it at all -- the fate of most blogs that get created, I expect. What I am going to do with it, though, is different. I'm going to answer questions.

The forum is open, people. Ask away. The blog should be set up to send me an e-mail any time someone posts a comment, so if no one asks anything, I'll probably never (or hardly ever) even open this up again. I might post rants from time to time. Ranting is, after all, the primary purpose of blogs, and who doesn't like a good rant every now and then?

Maybe, if the mood strikes me, I might post some descriptions of some episodes I went through during transition. My memory of the time is a bit fuzzy in places. Like it was someone else, and not me. I think that's mostly because transitioning was the single most uncharacteristic thing I've ever done in my life. I'm booooring. And conservative (little "c"). And pretty right-wing. The freaky life has never held any attractions for me. But... yeah, there were some freaky times along the way. That's for sure.