When I was 18, I realized that I could not resolve the serious doubts I was having about the tenets of ultra-Orthodox Judaism, I felt profoundly out of place in the ultra-Orthodox community, and I wanted to live by a philosophy and values I believed in. That year, I told my family that I was no longer Orthodox and that I was going to live a secular life.
My family had a hard time accepting my choice, but they remained in my life as I went to college, where I excelled. However, it was during my studies that I also came to terms with another aspect of myself – I realized that I was transgender and needed to transition.
My coming out was the last straw for my family.
They had sent me to the local yeshivish girls’ school and expected me to be married at 19 or 20 to a nice yeshivah bucher (male yeshiva student). It was hard enough for them to come to terms with my secularism, but when I came out to my mother on the last day of June 2011, it became clear that I was not someone my family could stand behind. We struggled to find a way we could still be connected, but at this point we haven’t yet found it, and I don’t know if we will. I’ve lost contact with my parents, siblings, and nieces and nephews, some of whom I helped raise. The loss of my family has been the most difficult part of my journey.
I have been paying a heavy price, but I also have a life I’ve built for myself and genuinely believe in. I’ve surrounded myself with community, I graduated college and am now in medical school, working to not only become a doctor but to raise the medical profession’s awareness of trans issues. And, finally, I am able to move in the world with authenticity and wholeness.