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Transsexuality, Sex change, Judaism and conversion


Rabbi Ari Shvat

Cheshvan 17, 5777
I wanted to convert to Orthodox Judaism since I was 15 years old and I sincerely want to do so now. But I was born as a girl and transitioned to being male because I couldn’t survive like that anymore. My question is: Is it possible for me to convert to Orthodox Judaism despite the fact that I am transsexual? I look, sound, think and act like every other man. If it was possible for me to live as a woman I would absolutely do it, but it isn’t. It would honestly be devastating for me to not being able to convert and I would do everything I could to be accepted as a man in this community. But is it even worth trying or should I not convert? (I apologize for my English, it’s not my mother tongue.) Thank you,
Firstly, I might strongly suggest seeking professional help, for you apparently have a problem of self-identity, and self-esteem. Making external changes, and thinking that “the grass is always greener on the other side”, is an unfortunate guarantee for constant unhappiness. Someone who has the trait of jealousy, will always find something new to be jealous about, and is never satisfied. The only solution is to study, analyze and work hard at exercises to uproot the trait of jealousy. Judaism teaches: “Who is wealthy? He who is happy with his share”. If you really believe in God, than you know that He gives each of us a certain fate, and our role is to destine that fate. That being said, anyone who truly wants to convert and become a member of the Jewish Nation can do so. Nevertheless, in your case, many embarrassing situations will inevitably arise and must be taken into account. Judaism does not recognize the possibility of changing the gender which God gave you, so in the synagogue, you would have to sit with the women, not be counted in the minyan (the quorum of 10 adult males needed for public prayer), you could not be called to the Torah, etc. To convert would be putting yourself into many uncomfortable situations, so why ask for problems? God loves everyone as they are: men and women, Jew and gentile, young and old, and you should learn to love yourself too, for what you are. If you believe in God, you can connect with him very well as a gentile, without all of the additional mitzvot and in your case, additional complications!
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