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What bracha do transgendered folks say?

46 comments

If you are transgendered and you aren’t a man or a woman, what bracha do you say in the morning?

You cant say shelo asoni kirtzono or shelo asoni isha, so do you say both?

Maybe you say niether?

Or maybe you can make up your own bracha, although I feel that may be similar to saying hallel on yom haatzmaut and get you in trouble with the more yeshivish folks.

  • http://jabberwocky-jessica.tumblr.com Jessica

    I don’t know any transgender people personally, but from what I’ve heard they do identify with a specific sex (they aren’t gender-less). Let’s say someone was born a male, but now feels that they are a female…they would say shasasni kirtzno.

  • prili

    we could ponder the question how does the transgendered perosn speak hebrew at all?
    its all male/female tenses- I wonder what israeli transgendered people do

  • http://debonairphilippic.wordpress.com Veebee

    L’eshanah Habreiot.

  • Talmid KHOKAM

    U say “Sha asi Li Dafook ba Rosh !! ;((

  • http://twitter.com/scazon scazon

    You say “she-asani be-tzalmo”. Just like you do if you’re a cisgendered man or woman.

  • Puzzled

    Why not “she-asani b’rotzno” in all cases? That’s what Conservatives do.

  • http://adenacb.blogspot.com adena

    do people actually still say “she-lo asah li isha”? in any event, the answer to your question is: the transgendered person feels that he was born in the wrong body, so once the gender reassignment is done, I assume he or she would say the bracha for that gender that he/she now IS (i.e. now a female or a male).

  • prili

    but Adena that wouldnt work becuase you are thanking G-d for making you a certian way- these people believe that they were made the wrong way- they should be saying thanks for nothing

  • ghottistyx

    @adena, in fact, the mysoginistic way of counting for a minyan is “baruch ata hashem elokeinu melekh ha’olam shelo asani isha, amen”–10 words! Don’t even get me started on this one…

  • Future Druggie

    Alcohol is a downer, coke speeds you up. Don’t take the two together, because you’ll die.

    If you’re dead, you don’t make a bracha anyway.

  • WHAT I SAY IS….

    …who gives a sh1t???

    THIS BLOG SUCKS BALLS.

    WHat a freakin time waster….

  • Shalom, NJ

    perhaps– she’LO asani kir’tzono?

    Adena– ‘she-lo asah li isha– that’s only for single men, as it means ‘that did not make a woman for me (li)’.

  • http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Jewish_Conversion_Orthodox/ Michal bas Avraham

    You think transgender folks are Orthodox? I’m with Puzzled 6 as a result.

  • REGULARGENDERED

    Does anyone know of any transgendered people that daven and would have this question? For those people Cong. Simchas Torah the gay temple has a new prayerbook that includes prayers for casual encounuters. It must have something for transgendered too.

    Heshy – You’re not considering such a proceedure are you?

  • M

    I remember reading about some opinion that someone who had a sex change should say “who changed me into a man/woman”.

  • ghottistyx

    The Orthodox Jewish Trannie…Someone get Maury on this one.

  • anon
  • A. Nuran

    If it’s a waste of your time why are you still here? Don’t let the door hit you in the pooper on your way out.

  • anon

    So my comment is in moderation because it had a link, and I see Hesh is on his way out of the country.

    There are transgendered people who are Orthodox. Google Joy Ladin and Yeshiva University.

  • yeshiva dude

    They should probably not say anything, either because they are an embarrasment to Judiasm and G-d would be happier without their contaminated blessings, or they simply will not say it being that they aren’t religious to begin with.

  • http://welcomebalance.blogspot.com s(b.)

    yeshivah dude, it’s not yours or any other person’s to decide what makes G-d happier.

  • straight man

    From the CBST news release:

    (New York, NY) — Congregation Beth Simchat Torah (CBST) is proud to publish Siddur B’chol L’vav’cha, (With All Your Heart), a new edition of the community’s long-standing Friday night prayer book. Created for individuals coming from a broad spectrum of Jewish practice and tradition, this siddur introduces numerous liturgical innovations that expand definitions of Jewish family and community to explicitly embrace lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) families.

    Highlights of this new, inclusive prayer book include:

    • Readings by American, Israeli, and Yiddish poets and by gay and feminist writers, including Adrienne Rich, Muriel Rukeyser, Walt Whitman, Yehuda Amichai, and Rachel the Poet;
    • A broad AIDS section with writings by William Finn, Stephen Sondheim, Tony Kushner, Thom Gunn, and others;
    • Prayers for coming out, for celebrating transgender experience, and a memorial prayer for Transgender Remembrance Shabbat;
    • Readings by transgender and intersex members of CBST;
    • An extensive LGBT Pride section, including an LGBT Pride Al Hanisim prayer;
    • Prayers and readings on disability, the environment, and social justice;
    • American folk anthems, such as God Bless America (written by a Jewish immigrant), America the Beautiful (by a lesbian), and Lift Every Voice and Sing (considered the African American national anthem);
    • Prayers for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day;
    • Songs, readings, and blessings in Yiddish, Ladino, Russian, and French reflecting the diversity of the Jewish world;
    • The inclusion of feminine God language in Hebrew for many prayers;
    • Concubines Bilhah and Zilpah included among matriarchs Rachel, Leah, and Sarah, recognizing all of our mothers, not just the “legally married ones”;
    • Removing heterosexual references to God’s love for Israel in L’chah Dodi by changing kimsos hatan al kalah to kimsos lev b’ahavah.

    “This siddur represents and embraces all of us in our beautiful and God-given diversity,” said the book’s editor in chief, Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum, Senior Rabbi of New York City’s Congregation Beth Simchat Torah (CBST) since 1992. “It represents a key facet of CBST’s mission of creating a kehilla kedosha, a sacred community, built on a love of the Jewish people, a passion for social justice, prayer, and study. Our hope is that this prayer book finds its way to synagogues and into homes across the nation.”

    Siddur B’chol L’vav’cha, (With All Your Heart) was edited and compiled by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and straight Jews and is intended for Jews of every sexual orientation and gender identity. The prayer book is available for order in hardcover, as well as in a deluxe, personalized edition. A companion CD, With All Your Heart: A Musical Celebration of Shabbat at Congregation Beth Simchat Torah, is also available for purchase. Those interested in placing orders may visit the CBST website, (http://cbst.org/NewSiddur.shtml).

  • http://hewhofightsmonsters.blogspot.com/ He Who Fights Monsters

    Rabbi Eliezer Waldenberg, the Tzitz Eliezer, ruled that a person’s halachic gender is that of their physical appearance.

    So, if a transgendered person surgically changed their apparent gender, then they would be (halachically) their chosen gender.

    Now, if they made themselves a woman, they would not be able to say “sh’asani kirtzono” because they took matters into their own hands, so to speak. If they made themselves a man, they would not be able to say “sh’lo asani isha” because G-d indeed made them a woman before they took matters into their own hands.

    So, in addition to everything else, I conclude that transgender surgury is batel aseh, an action that removes the ability to do a positive mitzvah, in this case one of the morning brachot.

  • BiggestFish

    @ghottistyx, shelo asani isha, I heard that the Torah is not actually being misogynistic. It has to do with the number of mitzvos that one is obligated in. Since men are obligated in more mitzvos than women, they thank God for having the ability to do more mitzvos.
    (Women, however, have less mitzvohs and I heard since women’s souls are more complete they do not need as many mitzvohs as men. After all, women are more spiritual than men. There are more female than male converts.)

    A further proof to this, is that before the bracha of shelo asani isha, we first say shelo asani goy, second we say shelo asani eved, and last we say shelo asani isha. Each level, as we go from goy to isha, is obligated in more mitzvohs.
    (Just as we aren’t discriminatory towards Goyim, after all they are Tzelem Elokim and are not allowed to do mitzvohs so too is there no discrimination against women.)

    Interestingly, the Italian Jews say in their nusach, Nusach Italki, she-asani Yisrael instead of shelo asani goy, they also say she-asani ben-chorin (free man) instead of shelo asani eved and they said she-asani gaver instead of shelo asani isha.
    So basically same thing but different way of saying or looking at it.

    The Gemara in Berachos 60b talks about this. For more info see:
    http://www.faqs.org/faqs/judaism/FAQ/04-Observance/section-54.html

  • http://welcomebalance.blogspot.com s(b.)

    If a transgendered person is depressed and suicidal in the body they were born in, and is not doing mitzvot due to being in that state, the pikuach nefesh and physical saving of a life the loss of not being able to say one brachah, according to you, far outweighs that loss, imo. health first, which includes mental health.

  • http://hewhofightsmonsters.blogspot.com/ He Who Fights Monsters

    Well, s(b.), that is one of the benefits of being clear as to what is going on.

    There’s more to undergoing such surgery than “batel aseh”. Coming to mind is habbalah, the prohibition against shedding blood, which applies to non-essential surgeries, and rebellion against G-d for suggesting He made a mistake.

  • prili

    Actually my rav says that plastic surgery (which is sometimes non-essential) is mutar if the person has such embarrassment/ great discomfort from going out in public looking like that. I’m pretty sure that transgendered people feel discomfort, since you know, they FEEL LIKE THEY ARE THE WRONG SEX.

  • OPINIONATED

    s(b.), I have one question: Have there been psychological studies on transgendered people, before and after the surgery?

    Are they truly less suicidal and less depressed after the surgery? Maybe they are equally depressed, and would have benefited from anti-depressents more so than from the surgery.

  • http://welcomebalance.blogspot.com s(b.)

    hwfm, I think that’s something between a transgendered person and G-d; since I am not transgendered, I have no idea what the thought process involved in making such a big decision is, but I don’t think having any surgery is one made lightly (except in the case of my own broken bones; I was all about having them repaired ASAP with whatever kind of surgery was necessary, as long as it got fixed).

    Opinionated, I haven’t done much research on the topic. I recommend dogpile, as far as search engines go, if you’d like to learn more on the topic.

  • ghottistyx

    @Biggestfish

    Thanx. I am aware that the bracha in itself is not necessarily misogynistic, but those who use it as a 10 word phrase to count a minyan are generally using it as an “in your face” to the egalitarian crowd. Most of the guys that I’ve heard using it are the kind who probably would beat their wives because they can… I say that if you’re going to use something to count a minyan, use “Hosi’ah et Amecha…”, something that can’t be misconstrued as offensive.

    Hey, are you familiar with that whole controversy that happened when Rav Herschel Schachter gave a drasha about women leining? Something about him saying that even a monkey or a parrot could probably be taught to lein. If so, any thoughts?

  • http://aebrain.blogspot.com Zoe Brain

    I *am* transgendered.

    Technically not transsexual, but Intersexed, though that doesn’t matter so much.

    Most “natural sex changes” in humans are from female to male – from either 5ARD or 17BHDD syndromes. Less than 1% go the other way, but that happens too, rarely. The phenomenon is not well understood, but we have some good hypotheses, there appears to be at least 5 ways this can happen, all exceedingly rare, but inevitable in a population numbering billions.

    Every morning, I’d say “Thank G_d I’m a Man” – not because I believed it, but because it was a way of trying to believe it. I hadn’t since before age 10.

    As it turns out, I was right. The diagnosis in 1985 was a mildly Intersexed male, but after the changes hit in 2005, that was corrected to severely Intersexed female. Intersex meaning neither wholly male nor wholly female.

    Transsexuality is also a form of Intersex – the brain is cross-gendered compared with most or all of the rest of the body (often there are other Intersex conditions too). There’s a lot of Talmudaic law about Intersex conditions, Tumtum vs Androgenous, but many conclusions should be re-visited in the light of modern medical knowledge as to what is the “true” gender that is revealed.

    There’s a good argument to be made that trans women were “real” women from birth, despite an unfortunate outward appearance. As such, whether they have changed their appearance to become consistent or not, the female form should be used. The same logic applies for trans men.

    Basically such people should follow the commandments in Isaiah. Keep the Covenant, Keep Shabbat, and that’s about it. Forbidden to enter the temple, or to marry, but also not subject to the usual Levitican strictures about male or female behaviour, we are “outside the system” with no guidance nor regulation.

  • Moshe Pippaso

    baruch ata Dr. Thingalopper, she low asani ahved.

  • http://hewhofightsmonsters.blogspot.com/ He Who Fights Monsters

    Prili, halachically speaking, plastic surgery is an “as your Rav”. Not a Rabbi, someone with serious halachic chops.

    Because, the Tzitz Eliezer rules that all plastic surgery (nosejobs) constitute rebellion against G-d.
    And some people disagree. But there is no cute line.

    Of course, surgery to change one’s genital organs is definitely much more of an implied insult to one’s Creator.

    Problem is, it looks like the Creater messed up.

  • prili

    He Who Fights Monsters, Im sorry, I dont understand, my Rav is my posek. Are you a posek, if so then whatever happened to 70 faces of torah.? And if some people disagree, doesn’t that undermine your argument?

  • http://welcomebalance.blogspot.com s(b.)

    thanks for sharing, zoe.

  • http://hewhofightsmonsters.blogspot.com/ He Who Fights Monsters

    There are 70 faces of the Torah, but there are also mistaken interpretations.

  • http://freshwater-phil.blogspot.com Phil

    I don’t think their is such a thing as a transgender person in halachic context. Just because someone goes nuts and cuts off his weewee, that shouldn’t stop him from saying shlo asani isha, because he was created as a man.

    In the case of a tumtum (neither) or angroginus (both), they probably don’t say the bracha because it’s a safek drabanan.

  • serious note

    The Tzitz Eliezer was a heavyweight posek who addressed this issue comprehensively. People who are seriously interested should do their homework.
    He who fights-if you read the teshuvos you would never say any of this. For one thing, Rav Waldenberg specifically is mattir in cases of suicidal risk, where the person will die otherwise.
    Secondly-he goes as far as to provide the specific wording of the bracha that should be said by the person.
    Do your homework, then speak.
    Halacha is not a game.

  • prili

    props to serious note

  • http://aebrain.blogspot.com Zoe Brain

    serious note –

    “Rabbi Waldenberg brings sources from centuries ago of women who changed into men. Exactly what the phenomenon in question was isn’t clear from what he writes, but it is clear that to the naked eye, a person or persons who were female by appearance became male by appearance. Discussing whether such a person, if married, would require a writ of divorce from his/her husband, one of the sources cited by Rabbi Waldenberg writes that he/she does not, “because this woman has many signs of being a man which are apparent to the visual sense, she does not require a writ of divorce, because she is truly a man.” The source continues to say that in the morning blessings, where a man says, “Blessed are You, Lord our G_d, King of the Universe, Who has not made me a woman,” such a man should end the blessing instead, “Who has changed me into a man” (Rabbi Waldenberg states elsewhere that a male who becomes female would say, “Who has changed me according to His will,” rather than the standard, “Who has made me according to His will,” which is said by women). ”

    Either 5alpha-reductase-2 deficiency or 17beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase-3 deficiency can cause a natural apparent sex change from female to male. That’s not that uncommon, and no doubt is what Rabbi Wallenberg was referring to. Changes in the other direction are exceedingly rare, but it’s of comfort to know that this has been thought of too.

    “Blessed are You, Lord our G_d, King of the Universe, Who has changed me according to His will” is the wording in my case.

  • Hayley R.

    According to Rav Waldenberg, a MTF transsexual would say “Shehafchani L’Isha”. And @ REGULARGENDERED, I do know of one. Me!

  • http://transtorah.org/ Yitzhak

    I daven 3 times a day, am shomer shabbos, keep kosher, and study.

    I am also a female-to-male transsexual and every time I inject testosterone, I say the b’racha “ha’mavir l’ovrim” followed by the b’racha “sh’asani b’tzelmo v’kirtzonah.” (Written by Rabbi Elliot Kukla, as it appeared in Lilith magazine)

    See the website TransTorah.org for more information. They also include blessings for other things like binding the chest, etc.

    Since starting testosterone, my depression and suicidality and urges to harm myself have completely gone away. I have been living as a man for 4 years now. Because my mental state has improved, I feel I can finally daven closer to HaShem and my faith and spiritual life has only been enriched by my transition.

    To answer the question of what do Israeli transgender people do, particularly those who identify as both or neither male nor female (called bigender or genderqueer), they use English for some terms mixed with Hebrew and for other situations, they mix gendered Hebrew words together.

    Most transsexuals (and all people really) use the pronouns of whatever sex they are living as.

    As it is appropriate, a happy chanukah and gut shabbos to you all! I have to get offline now to light candles.

  • Jessica

    I think the commenter suggesting a transsexual woman to say sheusani dafuk barosh is the one thats dafuk. And so maybe she/he should make the bruchu. Us Transsexual people cause alot of insecure individuals to scream and attack out of their uncertain identity. I was there once, I was once insecure, covering up my true gender identity, and I remember how I used to attack the people in my camp. You only attack and make fun of a people when your concealing your own identity, your own insecurities. And so sheusani miruba or dafuk would be quite appropriate for this individual. I was there once, so I know whats done under this pressure.

  • Sion-James Howe

    I see people here saying that trans people feel that haShem made a mistake. This is simply not true. Many don’t have the words to express to others who are not transgender how they feel. As transgender person I do not feel that G-d made a mistake on me. But created me transgender. My transition was something I was meant to go through, physically and emotionally, to become myself fully. I see the surgeries and hormone as the medicine for my condition. Just as I take medicine for my adhd and thank G-d so do I when I take my testosterone or when I get a surgery.

  • Abused By The Religious

    Thank you Zoe, Yitzchak, and Sion-James. for your comments (and any other trans individuals who have commented here, but not broadcasted their private life). Your ability to remain yourselves while enjoying the joys of being religious is commendable. As a trans coming from an ultra orthodox super frum sect I have been hurt waaaaay too many times by words, rules, and actions coming from strongly religious people, families governed by religious rules first, and religious authorities to care anymore about the religious system. The benefits of avoiding abuse far outweighed my spiritual benefits (although this is a only from the perspective of the community activities and rules, and not with my personal internal connection to Hashem). I may re-consider it as I progress, but my mental health was/is more important to me than the constant barrage of verbal abuse from every direction. I am certain that it is a religious sin for others to tell me (blatant abuse) with certainty that I am something that I am not, and force me to comply with the religious norms for that type of person or restrict my abilities to move a little closer to congruence with whatever self I am. GID has been changed in DSM V and WPATH has made recommendations to better clarify this from a medical perspective as not based on stress but on a desire to be in tune with self. This is NOT a disease, or a phase, or an internal construct created to deal with something from the past, or about lust/desire. This is about a sense of self – only you know what you are, and it does not have to be a binary. The inability for many to use logic in this realm or even include things outside the binary concept is a byproduct of the gender/sexuality binaries we use being broken, but deceptively easy for society and religion to use (binaries have always been used for complex things when it comes to laws, money, and power controls over populace. Gender: man/woman, Sexuality, homo/hetero, Race: black/white, class: rich/poor, Age: young/old, Religion: true believer/going to hell, Ability: abled/disabled, Looks: ugly/good looking, Citizenship: us/everyone else, Membership: belong/don’t care about, geography: my land/stay in your place, Language: English/Barbarian, Family and Reproduction status: married with children/shame on you, Politics: Right wing or Left wing……etc ). It has come to a point where society, and religion needs to reevaluate things on an ongoing basis as new models and ideas come forth (although this will not really be done for a very long time).

    If you are interested in understanding a little more about the complex model that is currently used to explain humans in an easy to digest manner please google Genderbread person (They are now up to version 2.0 on itspronouncedmetrosexual s website) and read the one page graphic to get a better grip on the complexities of humans.

  • Curious

    If a transsexual man feels like and inhabits his body as a man, then didn’t G-d make him a man? Ditto for transsexual women. Just a thought.