From Hasidic Rabbi to Transgender Activist, Abby Stein is Paving Her Own Way

Watch Abby tour the Hasidic neighborhood in Brooklyn where she grew up.

When Abby Stein says she was raised as her parents’ first “son,” she makes sure to put the word son in quotes. That’s because, from as early as she can remember, Abby knew that while she may have been given the body of a boy, there was no doubt in her mind that she was a girl.

But there was one small problem: Born into a prominent Hasidic family in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, Stein had no idea that transgender people exist, or that there was a name and a path forward for people like her. And so, she went about the life that was laid out for her, eventually becoming a rabbi, marrying the woman her parents chose for her when she was a teenager, and about a year later, welcoming a son.

It was her son’s bris on the eighth day of his life that put Abby over the edge — during the gendered ritual, she could no longer ignore the fact that she wasn’t the man her family and community thought her to be. From there, she set off on the extremely difficult journey of coming out to her family (who said they could no longer speak with her), leaving the ultra-Orthodox community, and finally living life as the woman she was born to be.

Stein walks readers through those early years, leading up to her transition, in her beautifully rendered debut memoir, Becoming Eve, out now. In the weeks leading up to the publication, the Alma team followed Stein around as she walked us through the neighborhood where she grew up and told us more about her journey.

Watch the video here (minor heckling and trespassing included):


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