Transgender Woman Chronicles Journey From Rabbi To Her True Self | TODAY


>>IT TOOK YEARS BEFORE SHE FELT COMFORTABLE LIVING HER LIFE AS COMFORTABLE LIVING HER LIFE AS HER NEW SELF AND NOW SHE SAYS HER NEW SELF AND NOW SHE SAYS SHE’S CRAFTING A NEW STORY. SHE’S CRAFTING A NEW STORY.>>I THINK A LOT ABOUT MY PAST>>I THINK A LOT ABOUT MY PAST LIFE AND HAVING BEEN ALMOST LIKE LIFE AND HAVING BEEN ALMOST LIKE I WAS ACTING. I WAS ACTING. LIVING A DOUBLE LIFE. LIVING A DOUBLE LIFE.>>GROWING UP ABBY STEIN>>GROWING UP ABBY STEIN STRUGGLED WITH HER IDENTITY STRUGGLED WITH HER IDENTITY INSIDE AN ULTRA ORTHODOX JEWISH INSIDE AN ULTRA ORTHODOX JEWISH COMMUNITY. COMMUNITY.>>I THINK I WAS A HAPPY CHILD>>I THINK I WAS A HAPPY CHILD UNTIL I GOT OLDER AND STARTED UNTIL I GOT OLDER AND STARTED REALIZING I DON’T GET ALONG AND REALIZING I DON’T GET ALONG AND I MAKE FRIENDS WITH BOYS AND I MAKE FRIENDS WITH BOYS AND DON’T ENJOY MOST OF THE SPORTS, DON’T ENJOY MOST OF THE SPORTS, THE THINGS THEY PLAY. THE THINGS THEY PLAY.>>BECAUSE ABBY SAYS SHE WAS>>BECAUSE ABBY SAYS SHE WAS REALLY A GIRL BORN INSIDE A REALLY A GIRL BORN INSIDE A BOY’S BODY. BOY’S BODY.>>TIMES I TRIED TO TELL MYSELF,>>TIMES I TRIED TO TELL MYSELF, YOU ARE WRONG, IT’S IMPOSSIBLE YOU ARE WRONG, IT’S IMPOSSIBLE WHAT YOU ARE FEELING. WHAT YOU ARE FEELING.>>AS SHE GREW UP, SHE FOLLOWED>>AS SHE GREW UP, SHE FOLLOWED IN THE FOOT STEPS OF HER IN THE FOOT STEPS OF HER ANCESTORS, BECOMING A RABBI AND ANCESTORS, BECOMING A RABBI AND GETTING MARRIED. GETTING MARRIED.>>FOR ME PERSONALLY, THERE WAS>>FOR ME PERSONALLY, THERE WAS A LOT OF EXPECTATIONS BECAUSE OF A LOT OF EXPECTATIONS BECAUSE OF MY FAMILY, WHICH IN THE HA SIS MY FAMILY, WHICH IN THE HA SIS COMMUNITY HAS BEEN RULED FOR THE COMMUNITY HAS BEEN RULED FOR THE PAST 150 YEARS BY THESE ROYAL PAST 150 YEARS BY THESE ROYAL FAMILIES, KIND OF ALL MARRY EACH FAMILIES, KIND OF ALL MARRY EACH OTHER, AND FOR ME THAT MEANT OTHER, AND FOR ME THAT MEANT BEING A DESCENDANT OBVIOUSLY WAS BEING A DESCENDANT OBVIOUSLY WAS A BIG DEAL. A BIG DEAL.>>THAT PRESSURE FINALLY CAME TO>>THAT PRESSURE FINALLY CAME TO A BOILING POINT IN 2011 WHEN SHE A BOILING POINT IN 2011 WHEN SHE GOT LIFE ALTERING MOVE. GOT LIFE ALTERING MOVE.>>I GOT THE NEWS WE ARE>>I GOT THE NEWS WE ARE EXPECTING MY SON, AND FOR ME EXPECTING MY SON, AND FOR ME THAT’S FINAL PUNCH LINE OF I AM THAT’S FINAL PUNCH LINE OF I AM STRUGGLING WITH WHO I AM. STRUGGLING WITH WHO I AM.>>FOUR YEARS LATER, ABBY SAYS>>FOUR YEARS LATER, ABBY SAYS SHE MADE THE DECISION TO FINALLY SHE MADE THE DECISION TO FINALLY LIVE HER TRUTH AS A TRANSGENDER LIVE HER TRUTH AS A TRANSGENDER WOMAN. WOMAN.>>AT THE END OF THE DAY, I AM>>AT THE END OF THE DAY, I AM WHO I AM TODAY OF WHICH I AM WHO I AM TODAY OF WHICH I AM VERY PROUD AND HAPPY AND VERY PROUD AND HAPPY AND COMFORTABLE BECAUSE OF THE SUM COMFORTABLE BECAUSE OF THE SUM TOTAL OF MY EXPERIENCES AND I TOTAL OF MY EXPERIENCES AND I THINK THAT IS VERY POWERFUL. THINK THAT IS VERY POWERFUL.>>ABBY’S MEMOIR IS “BECOMING>>ABBY’S MEMOIR IS “BECOMING EVE,” MY JOURNEY FROM ULTRA EVE,” MY JOURNEY FROM ULTRA ORTHODOX REHAB ORTHODOX REHAB ORTHODOX RABBI. ORTHODOX RABBI.>>GOOD MORNING.>>GOOD MORNING.>>IT WAS A POWERFUL MOMENT IN>>IT WAS A POWERFUL MOMENT IN THE BOOK, YOU WERE 20 YEARS OLD, THE BOOK, YOU WERE 20 YEARS OLD, LIVE INSTEAD THIS SHELTERED LIVE INSTEAD THIS SHELTERED ENVIRONMENT AS A MAN, AND YOU ENVIRONMENT AS A MAN, AND YOU COULDN’T IGNORE THE FEELING COULDN’T IGNORE THE FEELING ANYMORE. ANYMORE. SO I THINK YOU TOOK A FRIEND’S SO I THINK YOU TOOK A FRIEND’S TABLET. TABLET. IS THAT RIGHT? IS THAT RIGHT?>>THAT WAS LITERALLY A FEW DAYS>>THAT WAS LITERALLY A FEW DAYS AFTER MY SON WAS BORN, AND I HAD AFTER MY SON WAS BORN, AND I HAD A FRIEND WHO HAD A TABLET, THAT A FRIEND WHO HAD A TABLET, THAT I DON’T KNOW IF IT WAS CONNECTED I DON’T KNOW IF IT WAS CONNECTED TO THE INTERNET BECAUSE THE TO THE INTERNET BECAUSE THE INTERNET IS THE WORST THING YOU INTERNET IS THE WORST THING YOU CAN DO IN THE COMMUNITY. CAN DO IN THE COMMUNITY. I TOOK IT, WENT TO A PUBLIC I TOOK IT, WENT TO A PUBLIC MALL, THAT I ACTUALLY VISITED MALL, THAT I ACTUALLY VISITED YESTERDAY FOR THE FIRST TIME YESTERDAY FOR THE FIRST TIME AGAIN, AND FOUND A BATHROOM, A AGAIN, AND FOUND A BATHROOM, A UNI SEX BATHROOM THAT HAD A UNI SEX BATHROOM THAT HAD A PUBLIC WI-FI CONNECTION, AND I PUBLIC WI-FI CONNECTION, AND I WENT ONLINE. WENT ONLINE.>>THE FIRST THING I SEARCHED>>THE FIRST THING I SEARCHED WAS WHETHER A BOY COULD TURN WAS WHETHER A BOY COULD TURN INTO A GIRL, IN HE BREW, AND INTO A GIRL, IN HE BREW, AND THAT LED ME TO THE WIKIPEDIA THAT LED ME TO THE WIKIPEDIA PAGE, TALKING ABOUT TRANSGENDER PAGE, TALKING ABOUT TRANSGENDER AND IT WAS THE FIRST TIME THAT I AND IT WAS THE FIRST TIME THAT I HEARD THE TERM. HEARD THE TERM. I IDENTIFIED AS SUCH WITHOUT I IDENTIFIED AS SUCH WITHOUT HAVING. HAVING. FROM THERE, ONLINE FORMS IN FROM THERE, ONLINE FORMS IN HEBREW. HEBREW.>>AND DID YOU JUST WHISK AWAY>>AND DID YOU JUST WHISK AWAY TO SEARCH. TO SEARCH.>>I SPENT A LOT OF HOURS IN>>I SPENT A LOT OF HOURS IN THAT BATHROOM. THAT BATHROOM.>>WOW.>>WOW. AND LATER ON I SNEAKED IN A CELL AND LATER ON I SNEAKED IN A CELL PHONE WHICH IS THE PART OF THE PHONE WHICH IS THE PART OF THE INTERNET AS MUCH OF THE INTERNET AS MUCH OF THE COMMUNITY IS TRYING TO BAN IT. COMMUNITY IS TRYING TO BAN IT. THEY’RE GOING TO HAVE INTERNET. THEY’RE GOING TO HAVE INTERNET.>>WOW.>>WOW.>>SO YOU WRITE THAT THE>>SO YOU WRITE THAT THE CIRCUMCISION OF YOUR SON WAS CIRCUMCISION OF YOUR SON WAS KIND OF THIS MOMENT, YOU FELT KIND OF THIS MOMENT, YOU FELT YOUR WORLD KIND OF COLLAPSE IN YOUR WORLD KIND OF COLLAPSE IN ON YOU. ON YOU.>>I FELT LIKE GENDER IS>>I FELT LIKE GENDER IS PUNCHING ME IN THE FACE, TO PUT PUNCHING ME IN THE FACE, TO PUT IT QUITE LITERAL BECAUSE ALSO IT QUITE LITERAL BECAUSE ALSO LEADING UP TO THAT, GENDER LEADING UP TO THAT, GENDER BABIES BEFORE THEY ARE BABIES BEFORE THEY ARE CONCEIVED. CONCEIVED. EVERYBODY IS LIKE ARE YOU GOOGIN EVERYBODY IS LIKE ARE YOU GOOGIN TO DO A PINK OR BLUE NURSERY, IT TO DO A PINK OR BLUE NURSERY, IT REALLY MATTERS. REALLY MATTERS. THE CIRCUMCISION WAS LIKE THE THE CIRCUMCISION WAS LIKE THE FINAL PUNCH LINE. FINAL PUNCH LINE. HERE IS SOMEONE I AM SUPPOSED TO HERE IS SOMEONE I AM SUPPOSED TO RAISE AS A BOY, I HAVE NO IDEA RAISE AS A BOY, I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT’S GOING ON WITH ME, OTHER WHAT’S GOING ON WITH ME, OTHER THAN HOW I IDENTIFY. THAN HOW I IDENTIFY. IT COULD BE GENETIC, WHAT IF MY IT COULD BE GENETIC, WHAT IF MY SON IS FEELING THE SAME THING, SON IS FEELING THE SAME THING, AND HOW COULD I BRING SOMEONE AND HOW COULD I BRING SOMEONE AND RAISE SOMEONE IN THE WORLD AND RAISE SOMEONE IN THE WORLD IF I DON’T KNOW WHO I AM. IF I DON’T KNOW WHO I AM.>>WHAT’S YOUR RELATIONSHIP LIKE>>WHAT’S YOUR RELATIONSHIP LIKE NOW WITH YOUR 7-YEAR-OLD SON? NOW WITH YOUR 7-YEAR-OLD SON?>>THAT’S A GOOD QUESTION THAT I>>THAT’S A GOOD QUESTION THAT I WILL LET HIM ANSWER WHEN HE’S WILL LET HIM ANSWER WHEN HE’S 18. 18.>>OKAY.>>OKAY. I KEEP MY SON’S LIFE PRIVATE. I KEEP MY SON’S LIFE PRIVATE.>>BUT YOU DO HAVE A>>BUT YOU DO HAVE A RELATIONSHIP. RELATIONSHIP.>>YOU CAN ASK HIM WHEN HE’S 18.>>YOU CAN ASK HIM WHEN HE’S 18. I MEAN THAT. I MEAN THAT. I THINK MY SON’S LIFE IS VERY I THINK MY SON’S LIFE IS VERY IMPORTANT TO ME TO KEEP THAT IMPORTANT TO ME TO KEEP THAT PRIVATE AS MUCH AS MY LIFE PRIVATE AS MUCH AS MY LIFE ISN’T. ISN’T.>>SO GO AHEAD.>>SO GO AHEAD.>>I WAS JUST GOING TO SAY, WHEN>>I WAS JUST GOING TO SAY, WHEN YOU CAME OUT TO YOUR FAMILY, YOU CAME OUT TO YOUR FAMILY, WHAT WAS THEIR REACTION? WHAT WAS THEIR REACTION?>>I ONLY CAME OUT TO MY DAD AND>>I ONLY CAME OUT TO MY DAD AND I HAD A TWO-HOUR CONVERSATION, I HAD A TWO-HOUR CONVERSATION, WHICH DIDN’T GO AS MUCH AS I WAS WHICH DIDN’T GO AS MUCH AS I WAS HOPING. HOPING. I DID MANAGE TO PUSH HIM TO AN I DID MANAGE TO PUSH HIM TO AN EXTREME WHERE HE AGREED THAT EXTREME WHERE HE AGREED THAT TRANS PEOPLE EXIST, WHICH IS FAR TRANS PEOPLE EXIST, WHICH IS FAR FROM A GIVEN FROM ALL ULTRA FROM A GIVEN FROM ALL ULTRA ORTHODOX RABBI WHO WORKS FOR A ORTHODOX RABBI WHO WORKS FOR A MODESTY SQUAD, AND THAT’S A REAL MODESTY SQUAD, AND THAT’S A REAL THING. THING. HE IS NOT SOMEONE WHO IS OPEN TO HE IS NOT SOMEONE WHO IS OPEN TO THE WORLD. THE WORLD. IT’S POSSIBLE BUT THERE’S NO WAY IT’S POSSIBLE BUT THERE’S NO WAY FOR YOU TO KNOW. FOR YOU TO KNOW. I’M TELLING HIM, I THINK TWO I’M TELLING HIM, I THINK TWO THERAPISTS AND A DOCTOR ARE GOOD THERAPISTS AND A DOCTOR ARE GOOD ENOUGH. ENOUGH. NO, YOU NEED A VERY HOLY PERSON, NO, YOU NEED A VERY HOLY PERSON, WHICH IS HIS WAY OF TELLING ME, WHICH IS HIS WAY OF TELLING ME, THERE’S NOTHING YOU CAN TELL ME, THERE’S NOTHING YOU CAN TELL ME, WHICH TAUGHT ME A LOT ABOUT I WHICH TAUGHT ME A LOT ABOUT I THINK BIGOTRY AND TRANSPHOBIA IN THINK BIGOTRY AND TRANSPHOBIA IN RELIGIOUS COMMUNITIES WHERE I RELIGIOUS COMMUNITIES WHERE I REALIZE IT’S NOT RELIGION AND REALIZE IT’S NOT RELIGION AND IT’S NOT GOD, IT’S PEOPLE AND IT’S NOT GOD, IT’S PEOPLE AND THE CULTURE, WHICH WAS A BIG THE CULTURE, WHICH WAS A BIG DEAL FOR MY DAD. DEAL FOR MY DAD.>>YOU WERE THE 6th OF 13>>YOU WERE THE 6th OF 13 CHILDREN, YOUR FAMILY RAISED YOU CHILDREN, YOUR FAMILY RAISED YOU AS THE ELDEST BOY IN THE FAMILY. AS THE ELDEST BOY IN THE FAMILY. WHAT ABOUT YOUR SIBLINGS, YOUR WHAT ABOUT YOUR SIBLINGS, YOUR FRIENDS. FRIENDS.>>I’M IN TOUCH WITH A LOT OF>>I’M IN TOUCH WITH A LOT OF SIBLINGS, MOST PEOPLE MY AGE SIBLINGS, MOST PEOPLE MY AGE ONLY HAVE TWO SIBLINGS AND TEN ONLY HAVE TWO SIBLINGS AND TEN IT 15 OF MY FIRST COUSINS OVER A IT 15 OF MY FIRST COUSINS OVER A FEW HUNDRED. FEW HUNDRED. MOST PEOPLE MY AGE DON’T HAVE MOST PEOPLE MY AGE DON’T HAVE THAT. THAT. I FOCUS ON THE POSITIVE PART. I FOCUS ON THE POSITIVE PART. THE COMMUNITY, EVERYONE STOPPED THE COMMUNITY, EVERYONE STOPPED TALKING TO ME WHEN I LEFT WHICH TALKING TO ME WHEN I LEFT WHICH WAS IN 2012, AND TO BE HONEST, I WAS IN 2012, AND TO BE HONEST, I DON’T MISS THEM. DON’T MISS THEM.>>IS THERE ANYTHING ABOUT IT>>IS THERE ANYTHING ABOUT IT YOU MISS. YOU MISS.>>YES.>>YES. COMMUNITY NOT REALLY. COMMUNITY NOT REALLY. I HAVE SO MANY FRIENDS, TOO MANY I HAVE SO MANY FRIENDS, TOO MANY TO KEEP UP WITH. TO KEEP UP WITH. I’M FINE, I’M NOT WORRIED ABOUT I’M FINE, I’M NOT WORRIED ABOUT THEM. THEM.>>DO YOU PRACTICE JUDAISM.>>DO YOU PRACTICE JUDAISM.>>IN SOME WAY, YES.>>IN SOME WAY, YES. I DON’T OBSERVE. I DON’T OBSERVE. I CELEBRATE IN A STRONG WAY. I CELEBRATE IN A STRONG WAY. I HAVE DONE OVER THE PAST 3 1/2 I HAVE DONE OVER THE PAST 3 1/2 YEARS PROBABLY 300, PROBABLY 400 YEARS PROBABLY 300, PROBABLY 400 BY NOW, I LOST TRACK, OF PUBLIC BY NOW, I LOST TRACK, OF PUBLIC SPEECHES AND MORE THAN HALF OF SPEECHES AND MORE THAN HALF OF THEM HAVE BEEN FOR JEWISH THEM HAVE BEEN FOR JEWISH COMMUNITIES. COMMUNITIES. I’M VERY ENGAGED, SPECIFICALLY I’M VERY ENGAGED, SPECIFICALLY IN NEW YORK WITH THE JEWISH IN NEW YORK WITH THE JEWISH ACTIVIST CROWD WHICH HAS BEEN ACTIVIST CROWD WHICH HAS BEEN GROWING REALLY FAST, REALLY GROWING REALLY FAST, REALLY STRONGLY. STRONGLY. I HAVE BEEN INVOLVED WITH THE I HAVE BEEN INVOLVED WITH THE ORGANIZING, A GROUP, NEVER AGAIN ORGANIZING, A GROUP, NEVER AGAIN ACTION, ORGANIZING ABOUT I.C.E., ACTION, ORGANIZING ABOUT I.C.E., AND I’M POLITICALLY INVOLVED. AND I’M POLITICALLY INVOLVED. THE BOOK ISN’T POLITICAL BUT I’M THE BOOK ISN’T POLITICAL BUT I’M POLITICALLY INVOLVED. POLITICALLY INVOLVED.>>WHAT WOULD YOU SAY TO>>WHAT WOULD YOU SAY TO SOMEBODY WHO’S IN YOUR POSITION, SOMEBODY WHO’S IN YOUR POSITION, WHETHER IT’S AN ULTRA ORTHODOX WHETHER IT’S AN ULTRA ORTHODOX SITUATION OR A CONSERVATIVE SITUATION OR A CONSERVATIVE RELIGION AND THEY’RE STRUGGLING RELIGION AND THEY’RE STRUGGLING RIGHT NOW? RIGHT NOW?>>YOU’RE NOT ALONE.>>YOU’RE NOT ALONE. IT’S THE SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT IT’S THE SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT THING. THING. WHENEVER I THINK IF SOMEONE WHENEVER I THINK IF SOMEONE COULD GO BACK AND TELL ONE THING COULD GO BACK AND TELL ONE THING TO MY 9-YEAR-OLD, 12-YEAR-OLD TO MY 9-YEAR-OLD, 12-YEAR-OLD SELF IS KNOW YOU’RE NOT ALONE. SELF IS KNOW YOU’RE NOT ALONE. WHEN I STARTED OUT, ONE OF MY WHEN I STARTED OUT, ONE OF MY FIRST KIND OF MISSIONS WHEN I FIRST KIND OF MISSIONS WHEN I WAS STARTING ON MY ACTIVISM AND WAS STARTING ON MY ACTIVISM AND I HAD SOMEONE ACT ME WHAT IS I HAD SOMEONE ACT ME WHAT IS YOUR TANGIBLE GOAL, IF YOU’RE AN YOUR TANGIBLE GOAL, IF YOU’RE AN ACTIVIST AND YOU DON’T HAVE A ACTIVIST AND YOU DON’T HAVE A TANGIBLE GOAL, YOU’RE GOING TO TANGIBLE GOAL, YOU’RE GOING TO GET EXHAUSTED. GET EXHAUSTED. AND I WANT THE COMMUNITY TO AND I WANT THE COMMUNITY TO BECOME TRANSPHOBIC, WHICH THEY BECOME TRANSPHOBIC, WHICH THEY WOULD RECOGNIZE WE EXIST, WHICH WOULD RECOGNIZE WE EXIST, WHICH IS EXTREMELY IMPORTANT. IS EXTREMELY IMPORTANT. 3 1/2 YEARS LATER, ACCOMPLISHED. 3 1/2 YEARS LATER, ACCOMPLISHED. THE COMMUNITY IS TRANSPHOBIC, THE COMMUNITY IS TRANSPHOBIC, NOW THEY TALK ABOUT T WHICH IS NOW THEY TALK ABOUT T WHICH IS VERY IMPORTANT TO ME. VERY IMPORTANT TO ME.>>THE MEMOIR, “BECOMING EVE MY

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