Trans Jewish Leaders Get Recognition


The Times of Israel rounded out Pride Month with their June 2016 article, “9 LGBTQ Jewish Activists You Should Know”, featuring two transgender activists: Jazz Jennings and Abby Stein.

This list of influential individuals serves as a timely reminder that Jews have also been represented in the fight for LGBTQ rights since Stonewall. Listed among them are comedienne and ally Fran Drescher, award winning playwright Tony Kushner, and gay Orthodox rabbi Steve Greenberg.

Not many 15 year olds get to say that they are the honorary co-founder of a trans youth awareness organization (TransKids Purple Rainbow Foundation), nor the youngest ever Grand Marshal of a Pride Parade, but Jazz Jennings can say that and so much more:

She’s a reality TV star, a published author and a face of Johnson & Johnson’s Clean & Clear campaign. (She was also the youngest grand marshal of New York’s Pride Parade on Sunday.)

It probably helped that she got a head start in the public eye at the age of 7, when she became one of the youngest people to be diagnosed with gender dysphoria — a condition in which a person experiences clinical distress with the gender she or he [sic] was assigned at birth…

Jennings’ book and popular TLC show “I Am Jazz,” which focus on her life and obstacles as a trans teen, have made her the unofficial face of America’s transgender youth.

Abby Stein has been featured by Transfaith recently for her story of dual transition, both through gender and community.

“In the community that I was raised in, Trans did not exist, neither was it ever discussed,” Abby Stein wrote on her blog last year.

Stein’s community was a Hasidic Jewish one — in fact Stein, from Williamsburg, Brooklyn, is descended from a long line of influential Hasidic rabbis….“My main goal is to get people to talk about it,” she said. “I don’t care how hateful the reaction might be within the Orthodox community.”

Even with increasing visibility, trans people are so often left out of the opportunities to have our vibrancy and influence shown, and so we celebrate the work of Jazz Jennings and Abby Stein along with Times of Israel.

Read the entire Times of Israel article 9 Jewish LGBTQ Activists You Should Know.

Read Transfaith’s article on Abby Stein, Leaving A Narrow Place: Abby Stein's Path Back to Faith.

Find find out more about Jazz Jennings’s TransKids Purple Rainbow Foundation.