Conservative Rabbis embrace equality for transgender people

Conservative Rabbis have voted to pass a resolution embracing transgender people for the first time.

Conservative Judaism is the second-largest denomination of Jewish people in North America, and is seen as somewhat centrist, between liberal and traditional factions; with the Orthodox movement, generally against same-sex relationships, belonging to the latter, and Reform and Reconstructionist movements, both of which accept gay relationships, in the former.

Conservative Rabbis opted to embrace equal marriage back in 2012 – and have now renewed their commitment to LGBT equality.

Last week a meeting of the Rabbinical Assembly – the 115-year-old international association of rabbis in Conservative Judaism – passed a resolution “Affirming the Rights of Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming People”.

The resolution states: “The Rabbinical Assembly affirms its commitment to the full welcome, acceptance, and inclusion of people of all gender identities in Jewish life and general society.

“[We] encourage all programs affiliated with the Conservative Movement, including seminaries, schools, synagogues, camps, and communal and professional organizations to educate themselves and their employees about the needs of transgender and gender non-conforming people, so as to create fully inclusive settings.

It calls for “all Conservative Movement synagogues, camps, schools, and affiliated organizations to work toward becoming explicitly welcoming, safe spaces for transgender and gender non-conforming people” – which includes “evaluating their physical site needs, workplace needs, and language that impact gender and gender expression”.

It adds that it will “urge all levels of government to review their policies and practices so as to insure the full equality of transgender people under the law” – seemingly in response to anti-trans laws.

Rabbi Gil Steinlauf, senior rabbi of Adas Israel Congregation in Washington, D.C, told the Human Rights Campaign praised the “affirmation of the fundamental rights of transgender people within Judaism.”

He said: “Since Talmudic times, our people have recognized that the human condition is not just binary. We have long known that God’s presence is manifest in a multiplicity of expressions of our genders and our lives.

“I hope this resolution will go far in promoting this deep truth of our religion in our society and in the world.”