Coming Of Age As Gender Non-Conforming

I always wondered what it would have been like being part of the greater community rather than apart from it.  Caring people both religious and secular are taking step to help transkids feel they are part of their community rather than alien from it.

From Jewish Week: Times of Israel:

Rabbi Mike Moskowitz discusses CBST’s work on creating gender non-conforming b’nai mitzvah rituals.

By Mike Moskowitz and Yael Rapport
August 30, 2018

In the Shema we read: “וְשִׁנַּנְתָּם לְבָנֶיךָ וְדִבַּרְתָּ בָּם,” “Teach them to your children and speak with them.” “Them” (בם) has been understood as an acronym for the first word of Genesis, “בראשית” and of the opening Mishnah of the Talmud, “מתי” (when). The word “מתי” comes from the Mishnah’s opening question, when do we begin reciting the Shema of the evening?  Together, these words stand for the entire written and oral law.

Part of the lesson we are meant to impart to children is that whenever we start something new, there is a desire to ask “when will we get there.” On the journey of Rabbinic Allyship for gender nonconforming b’nai mitzvah, we are just getting started.

Everyday, as cis-clergy at Congregation Beit Simchat Torah, the largest LGBTQ synagogue in the world, we think about what it means to identify as a woman or as a man, and about how to continue becoming the people we aspire to be, culturally, socially, and spiritually. Serving CBST means that we are frequently asked to provide language and guidance for gender non-conforming kids who are looking for a ritual that supports who they are, rather than forcing them into the binary of either bar or bat mitzvah (son or daughter of the commandments).

Serving CBST means that we are frequently asked to provide language and guidance for gender non-conforming kids.

How can we structure this ancient rite of passage so that it inspires children to transition into Jewish adulthood, while also being sensitive to the struggles they face in a community that does not provide gender affirming language beyond the binary?

The Gaon posits that the first Mishnah is focused on Shema because when a child becomes an adult at sundown, it will be the first biblical commandment for which they are responsible. As adults, when we find ourselves in uncharted territory, the Shema continues to be a helpful tool. It offers navigational advice for the new traveler asking, “Are we there yet?” or “When will we finally achieve social change?”

No one knows where or how long our path goes, and all we can do is reach for the best in each moment. For us all that means: קורין את שמע, read the shema, because whoever we are, wherever we find ourselves, we seek to be grounded in our connection to G-d, who is everywhere at all times.

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