Jewish Communities Welcome Transgender Kids

As society grows more accepting of trans community, doctors seek to save teens’ lives by helping them transition at increasingly early ages


First-grader Eli loves to dress up as Queen Esther for Purim. A real girlie-girl with shoulder-length brown hair and a mischievous smile, when her sisters, 9 and 5, aren’t looking she may “borrow” their accessories. Pretty typical stuff for a seven-year-old Californian girl.

Except Eli was born a boy.

“For us, in the beginning when two years ago she said I want to wear girls’ clothes, we thought it was a phase — even hoped it was a phase — when we weren’t as educated on gender issues,” said mother Jodi in conversation with The Times of Israel.

At the time, Eli was in pre-school at a Bay Area Jewish Community Center near the family’s home. When Eli persisted in wanting to dress as a girl, however, Jodi and her husband consulted with the JCC director and Eli’s teachers. They were told to roll with her requests, otherwise they may “squash her identity, which is not good for her sense of self.” It’s a critical time in Eli’s development, they were told, and it’s best to support her in being who she is.

Two years on, ahead of first grade, Eli’s family reached out to the community’s Jewish day school for help in creating a supportive school atmosphere. The school turned to Keshet, an advocacy and education organization which works toward “the full equality and inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Jews in Jewish life.”

Continue reading on The Times of Israel