The Administration Wants My Identity Erased. As a Transgender Orthodox Jew, I’m Used to That.

To say I was angry when I saw the news that transgender rights were once again under attack by the Trump administration would be a gross understatement. To make matters worse, those people who I expected to step up and say something — either to me personally or on their own social media pages? Nothing but silence. Where I come from, silence is complicity. It’s not enough to just vote these days. If you have a voice and you’re not speaking up for those marginalized communities, it shows me who the true allies are.

One of the most important things that anyone can be doing right now is to amplify the voices of the trans community. I’m one of very few transgender film critics, and I survive on what little income I earn from my freelance contributions. A stable job in my market would be great, but let’s be honest here: I’m not a straight white dude. Far from it. I may have acted as one for many years, but that’s all it was: acting. If things stay on the path that this administration wants, the future for me is very bleak.

But it’s not just politics.

The news of this recent attack on trans rights came on the Sunday after yet another Friday night that was looking like I would be spending it alone. As an Orthodox Jew, I don’t come from a background where people spend their Shabbat dinner alone. I come from a background where you spend it with family and friends. Before coming out as trans, I always had a place not only for Shabbat dinner but also lunch the following Saturday. I moved to Chicago because I knew that my Southern hometown was not ready to accept me as trans, and I also knew that I had resources in Chicago, which I hoped would be a more accepting Orthodox community. After all, the synagogue is a block away from all the gay bars.

But last weekend served as a one-two punch for me, between the government trying to erase my identity and what looked like another Friday night where I’d be going home alone (and with nothing to eat nonetheless). Where are those LGBTQ allies when they know I’m going to be spending my Shabbat alone, while I see large groups of friends walk off to their meals? There’s no telling how bad the weekend would have been had I not gotten a very last minute invite after I started to cry following services.

Speaking of crying, I spent a good part of Monday just letting the tears fall. The anger and hurt is real. The fear for my future is so real.

Right now, people like me need allies more than ever. Check on your transgender friends. Ask us if we need anything or simply how we’re doing. These messages can go along way, believe me. I don’t know what’s going to happen after the midterm elections in November. All I know is that if things continue down this road, the trans community is going to be screwed.

In my adopted hometown, the struggle is real. I already feel invisible in my Orthodox community. Now the administration wants to wipe me off the map.

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