Should Orthodox shuls allow transgender discussions?

strange-toilet-sign-in-koreaHey Hesh,

Interesting thing came up in my community and I was wondering what your take on it would be. My community is going to have someone who is transgender speak about her/his issues in a speech to take place in shul. It’s the last straw in a string of events that has led me to contemplate moving out of the community. First they started the women’s megillah reading, then I noticed that pretty much every bar and bat mitzvah in the shul featured mixed dancing. It’s as if the shul wants to be conservative with a mechitza. There are even people in shul who claim to be Orthodox, yet carry openly outside of the eruv, eat in treife restaurants, and work on the second day of yom tov. I just see this as a continuation of the slippery slope in a community that could use more ruchniyus, not talks about how we can’t judge people on their anatomy, but have to understand how they identify themselves.

Help me, am I overreacting? It is an OU shul after all and I thought the OU had some sort of standards.

Let me start by saying that the slippery slope argument is almost like claiming weed is a gateway drug, most of the stoners I know have never tried hard drugs. Most of the shuls I know of with women’s megillah readings only have them because one of the feminist board members demanded such a thing. Then lackluster attendance usually shuts them up. However, transgender issues are a completely different story. I imagine that your shul sounds more like open orthodox and not something that would be sanctioned by the OU.

The problem with transgender is that it really is a slippery slope. Next thing you know, your Rabbi is going to be fired for not giving the latest girl who thinks she’s a boy an aliyah, then you’ll have to put in a unisex bathroom, and before you know it, you will have to have a separate minyan for those who identify as something different than their actual identity. It could get rough.

What I really wonder is what this person plans on talking about. I also wonder if the shul is so tolerant, that they would allow someone with extreme right views to get up and have a talk in shul. Would they allow a JDL/Kachnik to get up and espouse their views. Does this even belong in a shul? Isn’t shul for davening and learning, you failed to mention if this will be a shiur. If it’s a shiur on the gemara’s view of transgender folks, then it’s a different story.

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  • Debauched Debutante

    We had a female speaker travel to Australia to give us a lesson on the mitzvah of challa. Very interesting. I have attended lessons where one brings a wine glass and the halachac amount for each of the four cups of wine is weighed out and then measured in permanent marker on the glass.

    If a community feels learning about the lives and struggles of transgendered Jews is necessary or important then perhaps a talk could be arranged.

    I attend shul (services) for the davening and Torah reading. I attend shirum to learn more about halacha or the parsha. I attend classes to learn something interesting.

  • Abe

    What’s wrong with transgender people? Why do orthodox Jews look down on everybody even others who are orthodox but follow a different rav, tradition, kashrut authority…

  • Rabbi

    Hey, Heshy, your remarks up above seem totally rational and down to earth to me. And then I remember that this is Frum SATIRE, and that you’re probably kidding. Which makes me very concerned because, as I said, you made perfect sense to me. I think I must be going insane.

    • A D

      The first part sounded honest.
      The slippery slope of transgenderism was the satire… so if you really thing such a talk would lead to separate minyans and a unisex bathroom, then yes, take a deep breath and relax – it’s hyperbole.

  • Motti Schleider

    wow heshy you’ve managed to grow up a modicum, the last time you talked about any sort of trans issue in a joke or seriously you used the term shemale, way to grow up.

    • Anonymous

      mmm shemale porn

  • A D

    Honestly, the description of the synagogue sounds like every larger sephardi one ever. Orthodox services, with some people who don’t always eat kosher, some who drive over, mainly mixed dancing events, but still very Orthodox in beliefs and ritual.

    It’s a healthier way to be! The majority are shomrei mitsvot, and don’t get in a tizzy over those who aren’t 100%, and everyone can get an aliyah.

    • Sounds Good

      The Toyrah is all man-made, so why not just enjoy each other’s shared cultural backgrounds without all the nonsense OCD rules and guilt?

      • Peace

        Indoctrination is the reason why.

      • red

        The Toyrah is all God-made, so why not use our beautiful Toyrah to bridge gaps between our peoples?

        • M.U.

          Just stop.

  • Anonymous

    Sounds like this guy needs to find a new community, orthodox shuls are forums for many things and someone who belongs to the shul and wishes to speak about their issues in a way that may help the members become better people is totally fine. If the hashkafa doesn’t fit yours, leave, it’s quite simple in my mind.

    Nothing that you speak of, save the mixed dancing done at private parties – not in the sanctuary I hope – is actually against halacha and most shuls do the same. Remember, your shuls enjoys a wide range of membership and making it fit your obviously minor opinion, could force those on the fringe to seek out non-Orthodox shuls. If they aren’t orthodox, they might as well be eating kosher, hearing laining, and davening with a mechitza – right?

  • Izzy

    Well, my IRobot Roomba vacuum is also scheduled to speak at this Shul. The topic is “How to Emotionally Deal with the Lack of Human Touch when Cleaning the House for Pesach.”

  • A. Nuran

    Interesting that you switched to Disqus for comments.

    • Shragi

      It was mostly so that you don’t have to confirm email subscription to follow up comments.

  • jessie sanford

    A. Nuran whats the deal you just got through hating Confederates whats going on?

  • A. Nuran

    Largely to tweak a few Confederacy-loving trolls.
    Partly because it’s the simple truth albeit presented in as unflattering and blunt a way as I can. The delusion, denial and defense of real evil on the part of the neo-Confederates is as sickening as the neo-Nazis and Holocaust deniers.

    • jessie sanford

      Yes I am a Confederate troll, You sir don’t know the truth if you did you would know the Confederate secretary of state was a Jew so don’t start that neo-nazie carp or the holocaust deniers because most of the boys that freed the contraction camps were Southerns

  • And Sarah Laughed

    In my community (not my regular one, but the one I most identify with) we have three davening sections — gender neutral, male-identified, and female-identified. As for bathrooms, we have one that is “gender neutral – mutiple occupancy” and one that “gender neutral – single occupancy.” Works pretty well.

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