Finding Acceptance (and a Shul) in Chicago

Danielle Solzman, an Orthodox Trans Woman from Kentucky, can never go home again but thankfully she found a community in Chicago that accepts her for the woman that she is.

My reality as I knew it ended in early November 2015. Even though I was assigned male at birth, I came to terms with things I started to realize in middle school, if not elementary school: I’m a woman.

Accepting all of this wasn’t easy and when you live in a very small Orthodox community in Kentucky, transitioning would not be a realistic option so it meant finally moving back to Chicago. Outside of a very small group of friends who I knew at shul from when I lived here in 2008-09, nobody else in the community knew I was transgender or that would be transitioning with exception of the rabbi, as I came out to him when I said that I would be moving back in February 2016.

I knew the day would eventually come in which I would be switching to the other side of the mechitza. I didn’t know what day that would be. I also didn’t expect to be repressing my feelings for all of two weeks just after moving. I had hoped to freeze sperm but financially, it was impossible. Once dysphoria became crippling in April, I pushed myself to stay alive through Pesach. The main testosterone blocker is spironolactone and because it’s a diuretic, I knew I couldn’t start HRT until after the holiday had ended so I started my medical transition on May 1, 2016.

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