Earlier this month an influential body of rabbis passed a resolution calling for synagogues to be “explicitly welcoming” of transgender people.
As the country debates which bathrooms transgender people can use, the rabbis of Conservative Judaism officially declared their support of transgender rights.
The Conservative movement is comprised of institutions including congregations, schools, camps and seminaries worldwide. The Rabbinical Assembly, the membership organization for Conservative rabbis has approximately 1,700 members who proudly serve the institutions of the movement, as well as the larger Jewish community.
Three Christian denominations and two other Jewish denominations have made similar statements in favor of rights for those whose gender identity does not match their sex identified at birth.
The rabbis’ resolution begins by stating, “Our Torah asserts that all humanity is created b’tzelem Elohim, in God’s Divine Image.” It discusses historical evidence of “non-binary gender expression” in Jewish texts dating back to the third-century Mishnah, and points out current-day discrimination against transgender Americans in employment, medical care and voting rights.
Resolution Affirming the Rights of Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming People
Whereas our Torah asserts that all humanity is created b’tzelem Elohim, in God’s Divine Image; and
Whereas rabbinic tradition strongly emphasizes the importance of kvod habriyot (human dignity) and a 2006 teshuvah of the Committee on Jewish Law and Standards cites this principle to supersede the rabbinic prohibitions relating to homosexuality; and
Whereas the Rabbinical Assembly has advocated to end discrimination against minority communities, including the LGBT community, and
Whereas discrimination against transgender and gender non-conforming people exists, including but not limited to the ability to obtain proper medical benefits, secure employment, and legally change their gender on government-related documents that guarantee the right to vote; and
Whereas many governments have increasingly extended protections to transgender people in the areas of health care, employment, and access to retirement benefits;
Whereas it is increasingly becoming the norm to affirm the dignity of transgender people through the implementation of accommodations in both site facilities and language;
Whereas the literature of halakhah, from the Mishnah to contemporary responsa, affirms the variety of non-binary gender expression throughout history, granting transgender people the obligations and privileges of all Jews;
Whereas transgender people contribute to the vitality of our seminaries, synagogues, schools, camps, communal organizations, and professional associations throughout the Jewish world, and no less within the Conservative Movement;
Therefore, be it resolved that the Rabbinical Assembly affirm its commitment to the full welcome, acceptance, and inclusion of people of all gender identities in Jewish life and general society; and
Be it further resolved that the Rabbinical Assembly encourage all programs affiliated with the Conservative Movement, including seminaries, schools, synagogues, camps, and communal and professional organizations to educate themselves and their employees about the needs of transgender and gender non-conforming people, so as to create fully inclusive settings; and
Be it further resolved that the Rabbinical Assembly encourage all Conservative Movement synagogues, camps, schools, and affiliated organizations to work toward becoming explicitly welcoming, safe spaces for transgender and gender non-conforming people and evaluate their physical site needs, workplace needs, and language that impact gender and gender expression; and
Be it further resolved that the Rabbinical Assembly encourage Conservative organizations to educate their constituencies about the need of transgender and gender non-conforming people to be known by the identity, name, and pronoun of their choice; and
Be it further resolved that the Rabbinical Assembly urge all levels of government to review their policies and practices so as to insure the full equality of transgender people under the law.