While I still don’t get it 100%, that doesn’t prevent me from spending way too much time scrolling through the endless loop of viral challenges and 60-second dance videos on TikTok. It was during one of those daily scrolls that I came across Hadassah Tirosh’s page. I’d be lying if I said her Jewish-sounding name wasn’t the first thing that caught my attention — the second being her very distinctive and unique laugh.
As I scrolled through her page, I realized that Hadassah was not only, in fact, Jewish, but also a Mexican Israeli trans content creator. As a Mexican Jew myself, I was hooked and followed her immediately. In much of her early content — which begins in December of 2019 and was posted under her previous name, David, who she remembers fondly and has taken the time to thank for helping her become the person she is today — she’s seen proudly wearing different colorful kippahs, her Star of David necklace and being generally proud and open about her Jewishness.
A lot has changed since then. Her charismatic and unapologetic personality have helped her grow her platform, amassing an impressive 2.2 million followers on TikTok and 144K followers on Instagram. She’s been featured in Elle Mexico as one of their Pride 2021 cover stars, she’s modeled for Mexican fashion label Ocelote (which is a huge deal considering that in 2020 she posted a “Vogue Challenge” video on TikTok, claiming she wasn’t a model but would still give the challenge a shot), and was recently nominated for an MTV MIAW award (literally the “millennial awards” given to the best of the internet by MTV Latin America). She’s now even a member of the content creator group Mansion Lit, which is basically the Mexican equivalent of the Hype House.
Hada, which is what she goes by (and which means “fairy” in Spanish, which would explain why all her social media profiles are covered in fairy emoji), is an 18-year-old, gender non-conforming, pansexual content creator who currently uses she/her pronouns. Growing up, she always knew she was “different” than her classmates: she liked boys and girls, which she confessed to her mom at around 10 years old. In a live video on Mansión Lit’s Instagram, Hada explains that she had already talked to her rabbi before coming out to her mom, and he’d explained that no matter what she felt or who she loved, she was valid and worthy of God’s love. She shared his words with her audience: “Whoever your God is, they love you as you are.”
Hada goes on to explain that she believes it’s important not to seek external validation, but to seek validation from oneself, since it’s the only opinion that really matters at the end of the day. Of course, as most marginalized folks who speak out about their identity will tell you, she’s dealt with her fair share of bullying and comments from haters, but she’ll usually let them pass without much attention. “I try to remember that these comments are more a reflection of what these people have in their hearts than they are of what or who I am,” she said on Instagram.
Her content is pretty much an even mix of viral TikTok challenges, Q&A sessions — which she’ll usually start off with a cheerful “Shalom!” — and goofy videos featuring her friends. Two things usually stand out from her content: one is her unique, contagious laugh, which is impossible to ignore and always manages to put a smile on my face. The other is her absolute zero-tolerance policy for haters and negativity; she never shies away from calling out the mean-spirited comments in her videos or photos in a sassy, funny way, always making it very clear those sentiments are not welcome on her platforms.
While Hada currently uses she/her pronouns, because that’s what feels right at the moment, she’s said that her pronouns could change in the future. Labels aren’t needed, as far as she’s concerned, since both sexuality and gender are spectrums and preferences can change as we do, but recognizes that some people feel the need to label themselves and it’s important to respect that. “I’m just Hada. Remember you’re not a product that needs a label,” she tells her Instagram followers. “I’m just me and you’re just you, so just let things flow.”
For some people, seeing an openly Jewish member of the LGBTQ+ community just peacefully exist is nothing out of the ordinary — except it’s not the norm everywhere. As someone who faced some nasty, negative comments about my own Jewishness in the very conservative, very Catholic country of Mexico, and who has had serious doubts about her sexuality, seeing Hadassah live her life so freely and succeed without these things being a major issue is an indication that things are (slowly, but surely) changing for the better in our country. While my own personal journey with my Jewishness and sexuality were a bit rough, I am now proud of who I am, and I remain hopeful that things will get better and be a bit easier for those who come after Hada and me.