Monday, December 5 (7:30pm)
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?
Idit Klein (pictured), 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.
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.
Nick Teich 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.
Dr. Norman Spack is a pediatric endocrinologist at Boston's Children Hospital and the co-founder of the hospital's Gender Management Service clinic. Created in 2007, the clinic remains one of the few in the world that treats minors with hormone replacement therapy. Spack began working with college-aged transgender patients professionally in 1985, but found that once patients had reached adulthood, it was extremely difficult to treat their sexually mature bodies using hormone therapy. When parents of transgender children began seeking him out through online support groups, Spack started to think about possible treatments for patients in their youth, before puberty has permanently changed their bodies. Since then Spack has spoken widely on pediatric hormone therapy and has campaigned for law reform in several states to protect transgender people against hate crimes and discrimination.