National Jewish Book Award Finalist for Memoir
National Jewish Book Award Finalist for Memoir
"Transgender and Jewish" tells the story of the first wave of gender-nonconforming Jews to take its place in the mainstream. Today, trans Jews direct summer camps, write ritual and even lead congregations as rabbis. Yet while non-Orthodox venues have made enormous strides in welcoming gay and lesbian members in recent decades, some trans people say they still feel like outsiders in Jewish settings, including, at times, the synagogues or camps they attended before their gender expression changed. "Transgender and Jewish" explores the world of trans Jews as they push for inclusion, and, through their presence, help congregations and denominations move beyond rigid definitions of male and female. For the people in the book -- and their communities -- being transgender and Jewish is not a contradiction in terms, but a viable and flourishing identity.
***WINNER, 2011 Lambda Literary Award - Transgender Non-Fiction While the Jewish mainstream still argues about homosexuality, transgender and gender-variant people have emerged as a distinct Jewish population and as a new chorus of voices. Inspired and nurtured by the successes of the feminist and LGBT movements in the Jewish world, Jews who identify with the “T” now sit in the congregation, marry under the chuppah, and create Jewish families. Balancing on the Mechitza offers a multifaceted portrait of this increasingly visible community. The contributors—activists, theologians, scholars, and other transgender Jews—share for the first time in a printed volume their theoretical contemplations as well as rite-of-passage and other transformative stories. Balancing on the Mechitza introduces readers to a secular transwoman who interviews her Israeli and Palestinian peers and provides cutting-edge theory about the construction of Jewish personhood in Israel; a transman who serves as legal witness for a man (a role not typically open to persons designated female at birth) during a conversion ritual; a man deprived of testosterone by an illness who comes to identify himself with passion and pride as a Biblical eunuch; and a gender-variant person who explores how to adapt the masculine and feminine pronouns in Hebrew to reflect a non-binary gender reality.
What do you do when the other woman is your husband? A wife's memoir of her husband's sex change Christine Benvenuto had been married for more than twenty years—with three young children—when her husband turned to her one night in bed and said "I'm thinking constantly about my gender." He was unhappy in his body and wanted to become a woman. Part memoir, part voyeur's look into a marriage, Sex Changes is a journey through the end of a marriage and out the other side. We see a woman, desperate to save her family and shelter her children, discover a well of strength and resilience she never knew she had. We learn what to tell the neighbors when your husband starts wearing heels with his shirts and ties. We see a woman open herself to a group of friends who travel with her through her darkest times, provide light and levity throughout—and who offer the opportunity to learn how to give as well as receive the love and support of true friendship. When she lost her husband to skirts and hormones, life made Chris a better woman. Sex Changes is the story of what one woman discovered about herself in the midst of the conflagration of her family. Fiercely funny, self-lacerating, and not entirely politically correct, Sex Changes is a journey of love and anguish told with hilarity, heartbreak and a lot of soul searching. It is about the mysteries in every marriage, the secrets we chose to keep, and the freedom that the truth can bring.
Yiscah's 40-year memoir details her joys and struggles with her own spirituality, gender identity, and commitment to living true to herself. The story she tells is one of a man, facing his truth, embracing the woman she was always meant to be, and returning to her faith with wholeness and authenticity. Her story must be told. It is important for everyone to hear and will hopefully inspire and empower many others who face seemingly insurmountable obstacles to wholeness in their lives.
These psalms grow out of a decades-long fascination with the biblical psalms, particularly the Davidic psalms, which portray the tempestuous, sometimes awful intimacy of the Divine-human relationship. In the lightning-shot Psalm-space where Divine meets human, time shatters, splits, leaps like a river, and so does the soul of the speaker, now hunting God, now hunted, now languishing in despair, now reclining in quiet triumph against the pillars of Heavens. These contemporary psalms attempt to create a corollary to that biblical psalm space, a space narrowed to a single room in which God and the speaker have no choice but to face and struggle toward one another through the whirlwind of pain and love.
Ladin draws the reader into a world of harsh truths, uncanny beauty, inspired erudition, ironic wit, and cadenced music. loss. Despite the ubiquity of evil and death in her poems, there is, in Yeats's words, 'a gaiety transfiguring all that dread'.
Winner of the Lambda Literary Award and the Ferro-Grumley Award: A beautiful novel about the strength of love and personal perseverance during the political fervor of the Progressive Era Set in Russia and New York during the early twentieth century, Beyond the Pale follows the lives of two women born in a Russian-Jewish settlement who immigrate to New York’s Lower East Side. Gutke Gurvich is a midwife who travels to America with her partner, a woman passing as a man. Their story crosses with that of Chava Meyer, a girl who was attended by Gutke at her birth and was later orphaned during the Kishinev pogrom of 1903. Chava immigrates with the family of her cousin Rose, and the two girls begin working at fourteen as they live through the oppression and tragedies of their time. They grow to become lovers, which leads them to search for a community they can truly call their own. Touching on the hallmarks of the Progressive Era—the Women’s Trade Union League, the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire of 1911, anarchist and socialist movements, women’s suffrage, anti-Semitism—Dykewomon’s Beyond the Pale is a richly detailed and moving story, offering a glimpse into a world that is often overlooked.
"The power of Conley’s story resides not only in the vividly depicted grotesqueries of the therapy system, but in his lyrical writing about sexuality and love.” —Los Angeles Times “This brave and bracing memoir is an urgent reminder that America remains a place where queer people have to fight for their lives... Boy Erased is a necessary, beautiful book.” —Garth Greenwell, author of What Belongs to You A beautiful, raw and compassionate memoir about identity, love and understanding. The son of a Baptist pastor and deeply embedded in church life in small town Arkansas, as a young man Garrard Conley was terrified and conflicted about his sexuality. When Garrard was a nineteen-year-old college student, he was outed to his parents, and was forced to make a life-changing decision: either agree to attend a church-supported conversion therapy program that promised to “cure” him of homosexuality; or risk losing family, friends, and the God he had prayed to every day of his life. Through an institutionalized Twelve-Step Program heavy on Bible study, he was supposed to emerge heterosexual, ex-gay, cleansed of impure urges and stronger in his faith in God for his brush with sin. Instead, even when faced with a harrowing and brutal journey, Garrard found the strength and understanding to break out in search of his true self and forgiveness. By confronting his buried past and the burden of a life lived in shadow, Garrard traces the complex relationships among family, faith, and community. At times heart-breaking, at times triumphant, this memoir is a testament to love that survives despite all odds.
"When troubled twenty-one-year-old Seamus Blake meets the enigmatic Jimmy (just arrived in San Francisco by bicycle from his hometown in Buffalo, New York), he feels his life may finally be taking off. But the ensuing romance proves short-lived as Jimmy dies of an AIDS-related illness. The grieving Seamus is obliged to keep a promise: "Take me back the way I came," Jimmy had asked. And so Seamus sets out by bicycle on a picaresque journey with the ashes, hoping to bring them back to Buffalo. He meets truck drivers, waitresses, Native Americans, college kids, farmers, ranchers, and Marines--each one giving him a new perspective on his own life and on Jimmy's death. When he falls in man whose mother has also recently died, Seamus's grief and his story become universal and redemptive. Award-winning novelist Trebor Healey depicts San Francisco in the 1980s and '90s in poetic prose that is both ribald and poignant, and a crossing into the American West that is dreamy, mythic, mystifying."--Publisher's description.
That a Jew living in Nazi Berlin survived the Holocaust at all is surprising. That he was a homosexual and a teenage leader in the resistance and yet survived is amazing. But that he endured the ongoing horror with an open heart, with love and without vitriol, and has written about it so beautifully is truly miraculous. This is Gad Beck's story.
“Impersonation was originally conceived as the first book of a triptych charting gender transition; however, the second and third books in the sequence, Transmigration and Coming to Life, were published first, and this collection kept growing. Impersonation now bookends the sequence, collecting poems written before and after the stages of transition marked by Transmigration and Coming to Life.”—From the Author’s Note
Denise Chanterelle DuBois's transformation into a woman wasn't easy. Born as a boy into a working-class Polish American Milwaukee family, she faced daunting hurdles: a domineering father, a gritty 1960s neighborhood with no understanding of gender nonconformity, trouble in school, and a childhood so haunted by deprivation that neckbone soup was a staple. Terrified of revealing her inner self, DuBois lurched through alcoholism, drug dealing and addiction, car crashes, dangerous sex, and prison time. Dennis barreled from Wisconsin to California, Oregon, Canada, Costa Rica, New York, Bangkok, and Hawaii on a joyless ride. Defying all expectations, DuBois didn't crash and burn. Embracing her identity as a woman, she remade herself. Writing with resolute honesty and humor, she confronts both her past and her present to tell an American story of self-discovery.
A moving memoir about growing up with a gay father in the 1980s, and a tribute to the power of truth, humour, acceptance and familial love. Alison Wearing led a largely carefree childhood until she learned, at the age of 12, that her family was a little more complex than she had realized. Sure her father had always been unusual compared to the other dads in the neighbourhood: he loved to bake croissants, wear silk pyjamas around the house, and skip down the street singing songs from Gilbert and Sullivan operettas. But when he came out of the closet in the 1970s, when homosexuality was still a cardinal taboo, it was a shock to everyone in the quiet community of Peterborough, Ontario—especially to his wife and three children. Alison’s father was a professor of political science and amateur choral conductor, her mother was an accomplished pianist and marathon runner, and together they had fed the family a steady diet of arts, adventures, mishaps, normal frustrations and inexhaustible laughter. Yet despite these agreeable circumstances, Joe’s internal life was haunted by conflicting desires. As he began to explore and understand the truth about himself, he became determined to find a way to live both as a gay man and also a devoted father, something almost unheard of at the time. Through extraordinary excerpts from his own letters and journals from the years of his coming out, we read of Joe’s private struggle to make sense and beauty of his life, to take inspiration from an evolving society and become part of the vanguard of the gay revolution in Canada. Confessions of a Fairy’s Daughter is also the story of “coming out” as the daughter of a gay father. Already wrestling with an adolescent’s search for identity when her father came out of the closet, Alison promptly “went in,” concealing his sexual orientation from her friends and spinning extravagant stories about all of the “great straight things” they did together. Over time, Alison came to see that life with her father was surprisingly interesting and entertaining, even oddly inspiring, and in fact, there was nothing to hide. Balancing intimacy, history and downright hilarity, Confessions of a Fairy’s Daughter is a captivating tale of family life: deliciously imperfect, riotously challenging, and full of life’s great lessons in love. Alison brings her story to life with a skillfully light touch in this warm, heartfelt and revelatory memoir.
Mitzvah Girls is the first book about bringing up Hasidic Jewish girls in North America, providing an in-depth look into a closed community. Ayala Fader examines language, gender, and the body from infancy to adulthood, showing how Hasidic girls in Brooklyn become women responsible for rearing the next generation of nonliberal Jewish believers. To uncover how girls learn the practices of Hasidic Judaism, Fader looks beyond the synagogue to everyday talk in the context of homes, classrooms, and city streets. Hasidic women complicate stereotypes of nonliberal religious women by collapsing distinctions between the religious and the secular. In this innovative book, Fader demonstrates that contemporary Hasidic femininity requires women and girls to engage with the secular world around them, protecting Hasidic men and boys who study the Torah. Even as Hasidic religious observance has become more stringent, Hasidic girls have unexpectedly become more fluent in secular modernity. They are fluent Yiddish speakers but switch to English as they grow older; they are increasingly modest but also fashionable; they read fiction and play games like those of mainstream American children but theirs have Orthodox Jewish messages; and they attend private Hasidic schools that freely adapt from North American public and parochial models. Investigating how Hasidic women and girls conceptualize the religious, the secular, and the modern, Mitzvah Girls offers exciting new insights into cultural production and change in nonliberal religious communities.