An Easter Treat: Our Religious Allies

BY Trudy Ring

April 06 2012 12:12 PM ET

Poet and literature professor Joy Ladin, born Jay, details her transition from
outwardly male to the woman she always knew herself to be in Through the
Door of Life: A Jewish Journey Between Genders.
The transition nearly cost Ladin her job at Stern College for Women of
Yeshiva University in New York. Yeshiva, she notes, is “Orthodox Judaism’s
premier institution of higher learning, and Orthodox Judaism, like most
traditional forms of religion, considers the things transsexuals do to fit our
bodies to our souls to be sins.” In 2007, after she notified the dean of her
plan to transition, the school placed her on “involuntary research leave,” but
eventually, in what Ladin calls a “miracle,” Yeshiva agreed to her attorney’s
demand that she be allowed to return to teaching, making her the first openly
transgender faculty member at an Orthodox university. Ladin also chronicles her
divorce, her evolving relationship with her children, finding love with another
woman, and her discovery of support for her identity in the teachings of the
great Jewish scholar Hillel. Her prose is smooth and, one might say, poetic,
and her story is fascinating.

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