On the face of it, "Through the Door of Life: A Jewish Journey Between Genders" (just out from University of Wisconsin Press) is the story of how Jay Ladin, the author and an English professor at Yeshiva University in New York City, transitioned into living as Joy Ladin. But it's Ladin's relationship with Judaism that anchors this book and makes it stand out.So is transgender kosher? Because it is rabbis who determine what is kosher, the official answer to the that is no, transgender is not kosher. Here is more from the review that makes clear what the situation entails.
Several weeks after she was awarded tenure, in June 2007, Ladin told the dean at Stern that she was transitioning to become female. She was kept on the payroll but forbidden to set foot on campus until September 2008, when her attorneys demanded that she be allowed to return. Since New York City prohibits the firing of employees based on gender identity, legally Y.U. had to retain Ladin on its academic staff. On her first day back at Y.U., the New York Post snapped a photo of Ladin and then published it under the headline "YE-SHE-VA." Ladin was taken to task for "sporting pink lipstick, a tight purple shirt and a flirty black skirt." In fact the shirt was not tight and the knee-length skirt was far from immodest.
At Y.U., the distinction between male and female is as absolute as that between milhig (dairy) and fleishig (meat). You can tell whether a student is female or male from a mile away, since females wear skirts, never pants, and males wear skullcaps.
"Gender is so central to tradition-based communities such as Orthodox Judaism," Ladin writes, "that it is more or less impossible for those communities to accommodate people who can't be easily identified as male or female." Ladin points out that this rigidity is hardly limited to Orthodox Judaism -- the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival, for instance, welcomes only those born female -- but within Orthodox Judaism, being trans is considered sinful and amoral.
Rabbi Moshe Tendler, a senior dean at the rabbinical school, as well as a professor of biology and medical ethics, told the Post, "He's not a woman. He's a male with enlarged breasts," pointedly referencing that Ladin had been taking progesterone and estrogen to feminize her appearance. "He's a person who represents a kind of amorality which runs counter to everything Yeshiva University stands for. There is just no leeway in Jewish law for a transsexual."...