On Monday, November 20, the Reform Movement joins in solidarity with people around the world mourning the loss of those who fell victim in the past year to anti-transgender violence. It is International Transgender Day of Remembrance: an opportunity to read and reflect on the names of those we have lost.
This past Shabbat, we asked Reform communities across the nation to reflect on this profound loss. As rabbinical student Lea Anderson writes in a post about the importance of the day, “Our Jewish values compel us to comfort the bereaved and oppressed, as well as to speak openly against oppression.” This past Shabbat fell at the end of Transgender Awareness Week, where we celebrated the advancements made in the fight to protect transgender people and reminded ourselves of the work that remains to be done.
Last week’s parsha, or Torah portion, was also an opportunity to reflect on the continued violence that transgender and gender non-conforming people face around the world as a result of the expectations we enforce within the gender binary. The parsha, Tol’dot¸ served as a reminder of the violence that the gender binary normalizes every day.
It is in this spirit that we join in solidarity as Jews with those around the world mourning the loss of those people whose names are listed as victims of anti-transgender violence.
As we reflect on this loss, there is also an opportunity to recommit to taking action to stand against the enduring violence that transgender and gender non-conforming people face.
The Reform Movement’s Urgency of Now: Transgender Rights Campaign is engaged in this action. We are asking congregations around the country to create communities—through school-district policy and other communal policy—that protect and affirm the rights of transgender students.
Reform Jews around the country can also write to their representatives and senators to ask that they protect transgender servicemembers serving in our military whose future was imperiled by the Trump administration’s transgender military ban.
On International Transgender Day of Remembrance, we mourn the loss of those people around the world victimized by anti-transgender violence. We also recommit ourselves to creating a world that is inclusive for people of all gender identities and expressions.
Noah Fitzgerel is an Eisendrath Legislative Assistant at the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism in Washington, D.C. His portfolio includes church/state issues, LGBTQ equality, hate crimes, interfaith issues, and civil liberties. Noah graduated from Brown University and is a member of Temple B’nai Shalom in Fairfax Station, VA.
Lizzie Stein is a Leadership Development Associate at the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism in Washington, D.C. She served as a 2016-2017 Eisendrath Legislative Assistant. Originally from Phoenix, Arizona, she is a member of Temple Kol Ami and graduated from Occidental College.