What is gender and how do we relate to it? There are entire cultures for which gender is a different conversation than it is in the US. Nine countries – Germany, Australia and India among them – allow their citizens to have non-binary gender identities on legal documents: male, female, other. And yet, in today’s American cultural landscape, the conversation about the human rights and dignities of transgender individuals seems to be just beginning.
This panel will look at the fluidity of gender through many lenses – historical, cultural, biological – to understand how societal bias takes root. We will look particularly at the Jewish relationship with gender identity. Ultimately we will ask: What is the future of gender? How do we speak of gender for future generations – as parents, as Jews, as a society – so that all members of the community can live fully as who they are, and every voice can be included?
Image Credit: Wiki Commons
BIO: Idit Klein
Executive Director of Keshet, has been an activist for equality and social justice for the past 20 years. Since 2001, she has served as Executive Director of Keshet, a national organization that works for full LGBTQ equality and inclusion in Jewish life. During this time, Klein has built Keshet from a one-person, local organization to a nationally recognized advocacy group. Klein was honored by the Jewish Women’s Archive with a Women Who Dared award and named to the Forward 50.
BIO: Schuyler Bailar
A competitive swimmer at Harvard, is the first openly transgender athlete to compete in any sport on a Division 1 men’s team. By age 15, he was ranked one of the top 20 15-year-old breast strokers in the country. He went on to set a national age group record. Schuyler’s difficult choice – to transition while potentially giving up the prospect of being an NCAA Champion – was historic and timely. His story has appeared everywhere from The Washington Post to The Ellen Show. Schuyler chronicles his journey on Instagram @pinkmantaray so that others may explore his example in their journey.
BIO: Mimi Lemay
Mimi is a trans rights activist and author. Her viral essay, “A Letter to my Son Jacob on his 5th Birthday” follows her son’s transition from assigned female to affirmed male at the age of four. Lemay is an international advocate for transgender youth, and has appeared on shows ranging from NBC Nightly News to the Today Show. Recently, Lemay and her family were on the front lines in the fight for Massachusetts legislation protecting transgender and non-binary people from discrimination in public spaces.
Mimi is writing a memoir for Houghton Mifflin on her Ultra-Orthodox Jewish upbringing and her recent experiences parenting Jacob. She holds a MALD from the Fletcher School of Law & Diplomacy at Tufts University and a BA in Iran & US Foreign Policy from Boston University.
BIO: Dr. Norman Spack
Dr. Norman Spack is Senior Associate Emeritus in the Endocrine Division at Boston Children’s Hospital where he has been on staff for 45 years. Dr. Spack co-founded the hospital's Gender Management Service clinic, an interdisciplinary clinic for Transgenderism which serves as a model for 60 comparable clinics throughout North and South America. He is an internationally recognized expert and advocate for transgender individuals. Dr. Spack has been interviewed by news programs and periodicals including ABC, NPR, BBC, Time Magazine, The Atlantic Monthly, The Boston Globe, The London Times and for Diane Sawyer’s special on Caitlyn Jenner. His TedTalk, uploaded internationally in 2014, has had over 1.5 million views. The United States Department of Justice has engaged Dr. Spack as an expert witness on the government’s behalf against state-level challenges to transgender rights.
BIO: Nick Teich
Nick is the founder and CEO of Camp Aranu'tiq of Harbor Camps. Aranu’tiq is the world’s first camp exclusively for transgender and gender-variant youth, with locations in New Hampshire and California. Besides working year-round to run Harbor Camps, Nick is also a PhD candidate at Brandeis's Heller School. In 2012 he authored Transgender 101: A Simple Guide to a Complex Issue (Columbia University Press). He has a deep personal interest in helping transgender youth to be themselves.