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  • Torah and Jewish Thought
  • Principles of Mitzva Observance

Transgender male in a minyan & in general


Rabbi Ari Shvat

Hi, I was wondering what the Halacha was for Transgender men, in whether they are considered of having ’a sound mind’ in Judaism, and whether they can thus be in a Minyan. Further, what is the Judaism’s response to Transgender people? Thank you!
Only in extreme cases where a person say doesn't understand the concept of God or basic logic is he nullified for counting in a minyan on the basis of mental incapacity. On the other hand, a local rabbi can definitely decide that a man who dresses and looks like a woman, not be counted as a statement against such behavior, or alternatively, ask that person not to attend services in order to prevent misunderstandings and awkward situations (like: "why are they on the men's side?!"). Regarding the Jewish view on transgenders or transsexuals, the following is an answer I wrote to a European psychologist who asked regarding how halacha relates to a transgender who wishes to convert: Firstly, I might strongly suggest to you (or whomever asked you this question) seeking professional help, for the person apparently has 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, a born woman would have to sit with the women, not be counted in the minyan (the quorum of 10 adult males needed for public prayer), 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. 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! If one is already Jewish, I strongly suggest their stopping to take the opposite sex hormones, and try and revert as soon and as much as possible to dress and act the way they were born, and seek the help of a religious professional.
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