Category Archives: Jewish

PFLAG National Elects Akron Resident, Rabbi David M. Horowitz, New National PFLAG President

WASHINGTON and AKRON, Ohio, Nov. 15, 2010 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) National proudly announced the election of Rabbi David M. Horowitz of Akron, OH, as its new board president this week.

“As the family voice of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT)struggle for equality, I hope I can help to boost our outreach to straight allies even further — especially in the faith communities where their voices are incredibly powerful,” said Horowitz after the election. “And I want to involve every one of our chapters in our mission of support, education, and advocacy more deeply than ever before because we know that our family voices inspire change.”

“Rabbi Horowitz has been an integral member of PFLAG’s National Board, leading our organization in implementing its mission and helping us focus on the incredibly important issue of bringing our message of family acceptance and unconditional love to faith communities. His background as a PFLAG dad, an advocate for equality, and a religious leader will be integral in strengthening PFLAG’s work across the country,” said Jody M. Huckaby, PFLAG’s executive director.

Rabbi Horowitz has been a part of PFLAG Akron, Ohio, since 1990, when his daughter came out as a lesbian. He has been continually active in that chapter and currently serves on its Board of Directors. He joined the PFLAG’s National Board of Directors in 2002. He has since served as its secretary and vice-president.

He is the rabbi emeritus of Temple Israel, Akron, OH, serving the congregation from 1983-2001. Prior to that post, he served congregations in Indianapolis, IN and Hammond, IN. After he retired from Temple Israel, Rabbi Horowitz served a congregation in Gold Coast, Australia for almost a year.

Rabbi Horowitz has served, among others, as a member of Jewish Community Board of Akron, of the Community Relations Council (Chair), the National Committee on HIV/AIDS for the Union For Reform Congregations, and the Central Conference of American Rabbis (member of the Community Relations Committee). In 2000, he was on the televised panel at President Clinton’s first Town Meeting on Race Relations.

Horowitz was the topic of a chapter entitled “Every Day the Rabbi Helps Gays,” in Dan Woog’s Friends and Family/True Stories of Gay America’s Straight Allies, and authored the chapter, “David” in A Family and Friends Guide to Sexual Orientation, edited by Bob Powers and Alan Ellis, and has contributed an article entitled, “Praise God all the Earth,” in Alive Now magazine.

Rabbi Horowitz has been married to his wife, Toby, since 1963 and has two children, Wendy (married to her life partner, a transgender man, Julian) and Daniel and three grandchildren.

Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) is the nation’s foremost family-based organization committed to the civil rights of LGBT people. Founded in 1973 by mothers and fathers, PFLAG has more than 200,000 members and supporters in over 250 chapters throughout the United States. To learn more, please visit www.pflag.org.

Transgender & Ally Symposium: A Sampling of Our Workshops!

This year we expect over 250 participants to enjoy more than 70 workshops covering a variety of topics including:

Here’s what you get for your General Symposium Registration:
~ Meet & Greet with Presenters & Symposium Attendees
~ Registration to General Conference
~ Saturday workshops and lunch
~ Saturday performance of PAINT! A Transformative Project by Sile P. Singleton
~ Sunday workshops
~ And more!

Fee: $50 Register Online Now!

Provider’s Day Workshops and Registration, visit Provider’s Day! CLE’s and CEU’s are APPROVED!

Sing If You’re Glad To Be Trans
S. Bear Bergman, Keynote Speaker

While the difficult narratives of trans life are valid and deserve our attention, is it not perhaps enough with the all-misery-all-the-time tranny channel? Being trans is not a reason for pity, scorn, shame, or apology. This lecture celebrates trans bodies, communities, awareness, sex, love, particular talents, successes and self-creation with a faultless logic and good humor that may just make you appreciate transfolks (or being trans) in a whole new way.

Minimizing the Top Ten Fears of Raising a Gender Variant Child
Kim Pearson, TransYouth Family Allies

Are you a parent who wants reassurance that your child will grow up happy and healthy? We will explore the top ten questions that parents have regarding their child’s future.

Topics include: understanding gender expression in small children; how, what, when and if we should tell our family and friends; how do we make sure our child is safe in school and other situations; social transition; medical transition; bolstering self-esteem and romantic relationships.

Seahorse Papas, Bearing Fathers and Birth Dads; navigating pregnancy, conception and birth
j wallace

Bring your hopes, your fears, your questions. This will be a facilitated discussion about what it means to be a man who wants to give birth and how to go about manifesting that. Expect social, emotional, practical and medical issues to be discussed, experiences shared and suggestions offered.
We’ll talk about language, clothing, navigating medical service providers and what it’s actually like to be a pregnant dude.

Please note: we will /not/ be debating whether you can be a pregnant man, whether it’s good for the community, or debating the validity of pregnancy as a choice for transmen. This workshop is intended for transmasculine people who are considering pregnancy/are pregnant/been pregnant, and our friends and allies.

Race, Gender, and Sexuality
New Leaf Columbus

A round table conversation exploring the intersection of race, gender identity, and sexuality. Participants will share and discuss the multiple ways race and culture inform gender identity/ expression, and seek to understand challenges surrounding sexual orientation/preference. Specific topics will include (but are not limited to): language, coming out, gender roles, and cultural socialization.

Gay and FTM: How to Relax and Meet the People You are Attracted To
Dale Bogucki and Miles Newman, La Fraternitie du Loup-Garou

Hate going out because you are not sure you will even be able to talk to someone? Freaking out even though you pass you are “sure” you won’t in a mostly male space? Think you will never be able to disclose? Think that when you do disclose the entire bar will know? Learn that you are not alone, you are not the first, and the community is more receptive than you think. We have been there and we will tell you all about the best ways to disclose, good ways to disclose, and when not to disclose. Also, learn about cruising, specific body language, and how to know if someone is cruising you.

Intersex 101: Similarities & Differences Between Intersex and Trans People
Vickie Boisseau

This workshop will explore the social, legal, and medical issues faced by many Intersex people, as well as the similarities, and differences between Intersex and Trans people.

Trans Women Now
Cara Sande Greenberg

Trans women come in all shapes and sizes and transition is never a straight line. We will be holding a panel discussion on the lives and needs of trans women. Topics will include transphobia, appearance and presentation, safe spaces, health services, and trans women’s relationship to the broader T and the LGB communities.

Partners’ Experience: Limited Disclosure and Stealth
Ariel Baumwell, Co-Facilitator, TransOhio Partners’ Discussion Group

A discussion session on the experiences of partners and relationships where one or more partner prefers not to disclosure their trans status or does so in a very limited capacity. Topics include: Finding medical care, activism and community with limited disclosure, damage control when forcibly outed, stigmas and stereotypes, children and limited disclosure. Other topics related to limited disclosure are also welcome. This discussion session is open to all.

CSW, Office of Continuing Education is a provider with the State of Ohio Counselor, Social Worker, Marriage & Family Therapist Board. Provider Number: RSXX-038706 (Social Worker) and RCX-100503 (Counselor).

CLE’s are being sponsored by the LGBT Committee of the Columbus Bar Association.
Registration is now open and Social Service and Legal providers and professionals are being encouraged to register early as seating is limited and filling up fast.

Our Sponsors: The Ohio State University Multicultural Center; OSU’s Scarlet & Gay; OSU College of Social Work; The LGBT Committee of the Columbus Bar Association; Outlook; Stonewall Columbus; The Ohio Democratic Party LGBT Caucus; Apropos Promo; Irony Personal Training, LLC; United Way of Central Ohio; Stonewall Democrats of Central Ohio; Out for Work; The LGBT Center of Greater Cleveland; The National Gay & Lesbian Task Force; Case Western Reserve University GLBT Office; Equality Ohio; PBJ Connections; Delaware Christian Gay-Straight Alliance; Heart-Centered Healing; Evolved.

December 2009 TransOhio Newsletter Now Available!

Tuesday, December 2, 2009

Hello TransOhio Family, Friends and Supporters!

The December 2009 issue of the TransOhio newsletter is now available!

You can download the newsletter at: http://www.transohio.org/news/TransOhioDecember2009.pdf.

Our TG support group meeting will be held tonight Wednesday, December 2nd at 7pm at The Center on High, and our monthly general meeting on Sunday, December 20, 3pm.

The next TransOhio Partners’ Discussion Group will be held on Saturday, December 19, 2009 at 2pm in Columbus at The Center on High (1160 N. High Street, Columbus, 43201).

There are tons of events & activities happening in December, so, make sure you take a look at the calendar and the other events noted throughout the newsletter!

Make an end-of-the-year TAX-DEDUCTIBLE donation to TransOhio!

  • Did you know that your donations to TransOhio are tax-deductible?
    It’s true, they are!
  • Did you know that TransOhio is an all-volunteer board?
    It’s true, we don’t get paid!
  • Did you know that your tax-deductible donations to TransOhio assist us in providing programs, outreach & educational programs and events FREE to the Ohio transgender community?It’s true! Every dollar you donate to TransOhio makes a difference.

    It’s true, really. Every dollar counts!

To make your tax-deductible donation to TransOhio, visit http://www.transohio.org/donate.html

Upcoming events: 

  • Christmas day dinner and movie w/ TransOhio. Visit www.transohio.org for details.
  • The Crystal Club Holiday dinner   
  • New Year’s Day dinner and movie w/ TransOhio. Visit www.transohio.org for details. (All are welcome!)
  • December Holiday Activities (Whiteout Party at The Center on High, Sat. Dec. 5, 6pm-10pm)
  • and more!

Take care everybody! Be safe during the holiday season.
Best wishes from the TransOhio family, to all of you!
TransOhio Board
Shane, Karen, Tara and Milo

Equality Ohio: ‘Tis the Season: Make Our Legislators’ Holiday Gay

Make Your Legislators’ Holiday Gay.

Join in the winter holiday spirit by making a personalized winter holiday ornament or decoration to give to your legislators.  Make one for both your Senator and your Representative.  Represent your family on this ornament or decoration, whether you are a couple, couple with children, single with children, LGBT with parents, the child of LGBT parents, whatever your family arrangement, make your family visible to our state decision makers.

When you are done creating your ornament or decoration, send it to us with a card attached with a short note for your legislator.  The deadline is November 25, 2009.  We will personally deliver them on December 2, 2009, the 5 year anniversary of the day the marriage ban took effect in Ohio.

Equality Ohio
50 W. Broad St., Suite 1970
Columbus, OH  43215

Love making ornaments?  Make a couple extra.  We do have a few legislators who might get missed in this process.  We wouldn’t want them to get left out.

Not sure who your Senator and Representative are?  Click here to find out.

Our legislators are and will be politically powerful in the future.  When Ohio repeals the 2004 marriage ban, we will need our legislators’ help.  We will also need them to repeal the state Defense of Marriage Act and ultimately, change the Ohio Statute that defines marriage as between one man and one woman.

Let’s be creative about our storytelling.  Say it with an ornament or decoration this year!

Dying Real: Honoring Queer Relationships and the Gender Variant Body at the End of Life

In the Oscar-winning movie “Departures,” Yojiro Takita shows traditional Japanese customs for preparing bodies for casketing prior to cremation. The art is beautiful, precise and utterly respectful of the deceased. From the very first scene, however, the movie-going audience’s expectations of the “traditional” are ruffled. First, the film shows a contemporary Japanese society in which rather than family members, professionals hired by the funeral parlor prepare the body. Second, the lovely young woman being prepared for burial is revealed to have elements of male anatomy.

ILLUSTRATION MARY ANN ZAPALAC

After a discreet moment of surprise, the “casketers” offer the family a choice: Which way shall we make up the deceased, as a man or as a woman? The family honors the life of the deceased by choosing to prepare her as a woman. After the service, the father bows before the casketers in gratitude for restoring the memory of his child’s smile, lost during many years of family estrangement. Restoration of the smile allowed the father to recognize that happiness was found through her life’s choices.

Traditional Jewish tahara (ritual preparation of a body for burial) does not offer a gender choice; the sex of a body is determined by the appearance of the genitals, and gender is assumed to map directly to sex. Men prepare males for burial; women prepare females. While tachrichim (shrouds) are simple garments, there are minor gender differences. Male bodies are buried in shrouds designed for men. If the scenario from “Departures” had taken place in a Jewish funeral home, with a Jewish woman revealed in death to have male genitals, tradition dictates that the woman would be prepared by men and dressed in a male shroud.

If a person who lived a female life is buried as a man, no one will see, since only the burial society and the next of kin see the body from the time of death until the time of interment. Nevertheless, tradition seems to point in the wrong direction: Disavowing a female role dishonors the life of the deceased. The highest ethic of the burial society is kavod ha-meit/meitah (honor the male or female deceased), but in the scenario I have proposed, tradition would trump honor.

Death may come suddenly. What if a person has no time to set the expectations of the community for the unique requirements of a body? Can a family that rejected a person’s choices during life dictate the burial and funeral rituals undertaken at the time of death? Since in many states, sex-changed partners are allowed to marry heterosexually, it is also possible that the legal wife of a transsexual man might lose any right to communally mourn a lifelong partnership once the deceased is revealed to be transgender. What if a religious family undertook the burial of a not-so-religious child? Whose wishes take priority?

One of the goals possible for a transgender life is to be viewed as “real” — to be seen as a “real boy,” like Pinocchio. What will it take for transgender individuals to die real — recognized as the gender they lived?

Tradition can be kinder than it appears. Burial societies operate with a surprising amount of autonomy. While rabbinic authorities are often consulted to guide the tahara team onsite during difficult decisions, the rabbi most intimate with the family is often engaged with the surviving family members. Because of a history of condemnation rooted in the biblical prohibitions against cross-dressing and inducing sterility, the rabbi will likely not be privy to the gender status of the deceased. So when the time arrives for a decision about how to handle such a body, the team must make its own decision, while holding fast to the ethic of kavod ha meit. Given the autonomy of the burial society and the ethic of kavod ha meit, it is unlikely that a person who lives an entire life in a gender other than the one he or she was assigned at birth will have the accomplishments of that life dishonored at death. While the official position of tradition suggests intolerance, local custom and the relative autonomy of the burial society can provide opportunities for humane, appropriate treatment of gender-variant bodies.

Earlier this year, at Kavod v’Nichum (Hebrew for “honor and comfort”), the annual conference for burial societies, I met Lynn Greenhough, one of the organization’s founding members and the wife of a transgender man. Greenhough has a dozen years of experience as a member of a burial society; she’s seen many faces of death, and she has seen the principle of kavod ha-meit operating in many challenging situations. Greenhough assured me that while each Hevra Kadisha (“burial society”) operates according to tradition and is guided by a community’s customs, all bodies are treated with respect. Even so, education, living wills and other legal documentation help prepare members of burial societies for unique bodies. For burial societies, education about transgender bodies might have ramifications for the living as well as for the deceased: Education about compassion for human differences at the end of life might help transgender Jews be more accepted during their lives.

Gay Grief

On August 1, two Israelis were shot and killed at a drop-in center for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender youth. The press carried stories about the Tel Aviv center being a safe space for teenagers who had not yet found the spiritual strength to disclose their G,L,B or T identity to their parents.

Memorial services were held for Nir Katz, 26, and Liz Trubeshi, 16, in communities across the globe, but I found myself wondering about Liz’s funeral. About Nir’s. Were their bodies reverenced as other Jewish children’s bodies would have been? I thought about the grief of family members, but I also wondered if either one of the deceased had friends who were excluded. I wondered if the identities of the deceased were commemorated at their funerals — in Nir’s case, as a gay man who counseled others in the coming-out process, and in Liz’s, as an ally to the GLBT community, with many queer friends. I read with sorrow the report stating that after hearing where the attack had taken place, the parents of one young man would not visit him at the hospital where he lay injured.

As members of GLBT communities live Jewish lives across the spectrum of Jewish practice, we build compassion by focusing on similarities between our lives and the lives of other Jews. We, too, get married and raise children and work at our jobs. Throughout our lives, we support our communities. We age; our spouses die. We grieve.

Here is where the similarities end. While all deaths and family mourning are unique, transgender bodies and gay grieving tell a more complicated story, a story that cannot be covered over by efforts to assimilate our lives in heterosexual, gender-normative communities. While normative expectations may paper over some differences during our lifetime, our death and our mourning sing of our differences. Let that song not be solely a lamentation, but a Kaddish exulting in the diversity of lives our God created.

Noach Dzmura edited “Balancing on the Mechitza: Transgender in Jewish Community”(North Atlantic Books), now available for pre-order on Amazon.

Article can be found at: http://www.forward.com/articles/117279/