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Beyond Adam And Eve: Religion And The Gender Binary

In some religious institutions, there are many gender-specific traditions and norms. But what space is there for gender non-conforming individuals?
In some religious institutions, there are many gender-specific traditions and norms. But what space is there for gender non-conforming individuals?

Gendered traditions and norms abound in religious life — like male and female seating areas in Orthodox temples. And those who believe that biological sex must be the same as gender often point to scripture as evidence.

But in these types of religious institutions, what space is there for gender non-conforming individuals?

That’s a question at the center of Abby Stein’s life. She was born and raised as a boy in a Hasidic community in Brooklyn, where she was set to marry and become a rabbi.

She studied Jewish law. She got married. She left her community. And then, she came out as transgender.

Here’s what she wrote for Elle about Orthodox Jewish life, and where she fit into it:

In Hasidism, men are the leaders in all aspects of life. As far as I can tell, our community is one of the most gender-segregated societies in the United States. We had separate schools, buses, administrations, you name it. The wall separating men and women, both figuratively and literally, was so strong that it made it all the more obvious to me which side I belonged on.

We talk with Stein and others about how religious institutions are reckoning with society’s evolving views on gender.

Produced by Avery Kleinman.

GUESTS

Abby Chava Stein, Author, “Becoming Eve: My Journey from Ultra-Orthodox Rabbi to Transgender Woman”; @abbychavastein

Alex Griffin, Student, Montreal Diocesan Theological College; @alexegesis

For more, visit https://the1a.org.

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Copyright 2020 WAMU 88.5. To see more, visit WAMU 88.5.