How a Hasidic rabbi came out as trans woman

Yisroel Stein is no longer an ultra-Orthodox rabbi, married or male. The only American Hasid to come out publicly after gender transitioning, she is now Abby – ambitious student, popular speaker and community activist.

Yisroel Stein (photo: Abby Stein)

Abby Stein is almost certainly the only ordained Hasidic rabbi who is also a woman. Stein wasn’t female when ordained, of course. She was a young man, soon to be married to a woman also from the strict Satmar community in which they were both raised.

While Stein – then named Yisroel and nicknamed Srully – had long had unsettling feelings about her gender identity, when she married at age 18 in Williamsburg, Brooklyn and moved to Monsey, she had no idea that just a few years later her life would be radically different.

But it is. Today Stein, 25, is a Columbia University student, divorced, no longer ultra-Orthodox – and female.

Abby, as she is now known, is a petite young woman with shoulder-length brown hair, whose religious origins are detectable only in the Yiddish accent and cadence of her speech. Estrogen has made her face softer and her body more womanly, and has even induced PMS-like mood swings.

She is happier than she has ever been and plans to work on transgender issues in public policy. She may even one day run for local public office.

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