Reform Judaism is about to pass a landmark resolution on welcoming transgender people in their congregations. The denomination’s North American congregations convene once every two years in November to consider issues.
The resolution calls for synagogues to have gender-neutral bathrooms, encourage gender neutral language (which is generally used in prayers), train religious school staff on gender issues and advocate on behalf of the trans community.
Rabbi Elliot Kukla, the first transgender rabbi, was ordained a decade ago and Reform Judaism ordains both men and women.
After ordination, Kukla was asked questions like, “What do you say to a transgender person who comes to your synagogue?” Kukla suggested, “Hello.”
Now the questions are more complex and of a religious nature like is there a ritual for a trans man converting to Judaism who doesn’t have a penis for a traditional ceremonial circumcision?
The resolution affirms the equality of transgender people and welcomes them into congregations and all other Reform institutions.
Reconstructionist Judaism already passed a resolution affirming equality for trans and non-gender-conforming people, but the Reform resolution goes farther. The Episcopal Church, the United Church of Christ and the Unitarian Universalist Association have also officially welcomed trans people in their churches.
No Reform synagogue would be required to do anything, because, well, the best way to get a synagogue to not do something is to require them to do it.
Josh Manes, president of Congregation Beth El Binah, a member of the Union of Reform Judaism, commented on the resolution.
“Really?” he said. “We didn’t have that already?”