The Central Conference of American Rabbis strongly opposes proposals under consideration at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to define gender narrowly, as determined solely by sex organs at birth, an approach which is contrary to medical evidence and denies the life experiences of millions of Americans. The results of these proposed changes could be devastating: Transgender Americans, already facing discrimination, stand to lose federal civil rights protections based on their gender identity.
The Central Conference of American Rabbis was the first mainstream religious organization in the nation to affirm transgender Americans’ rights when we adopted our Resolution on the Rights of Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming Individuals in 2015. In that resolution, Reform rabbis urged “the adoption of legislation and policies that prevent discrimination based on gender identity and expression and that require individuals to be treated under the law as the gender by which they identify.”
As early as 1978, Reform rabbis had affirmed the life experiences of transgender Jews in CCAR Responsa, the body of Jewish legal opinion. In a 2009 responsum on “Circumcision of a Transgender Female” (CCAR 5769.6), the CCAR Responsa Committee held that “like the [ancient] Rabbis, we, too, are obligated to find a place within our midst for … the Jew who does not seem to fit within the established boundaries and social categories upon which our communities are normally based…. We have no need as a community … to question any person’s expressed identity…. Our concern, quite simply, is to welcome [each person] into the community of Israel.”
The CCAR will continue to amplify our collective rabbinic voice on behalf of transgender and gender non-conforming individuals, including cherished members of our own rabbinic Conference and of the communities we lead.
The CCAR calls upon President Trump, Health and Human Services Secretary Azar, and Attorney General Sessions to stand up for equal rights and to affirm the right of all Americans to define their own gender identity.
Central Conference of American Rabbis
Rabbi David E. Stern
Rabbi Steven A. Fox