The Tzaddik of Ludomir: A Transgendered Chassid
One of the rare examples of a significant trans figure in earlier Jewish history is the Beula (or Maid) of Ludomir, Hannah Rochel (1805-92). Before her planned marriage, Hannah went into a trance and claimed to receive a "new and sublime soul." He broke his engagement and began acting like a man, wearing tallis and tefillin and studying and praying. His synagogue was equipped with a special room for his own prayer and study, and from which, with the door open, he would deliver sermons to his followers in the next room.
(Jewish law would not permit a woman or a transman to worship in the same room with non-trans men.) Due to his brilliance, and the belief that his new life was the result of a miracle, he beacame a well-known Chasidic leader whose followers were known as the Chasidim of the Betula of Ludomir.
The Zaddik of Chernobyl, a well-known Chasidic leader, finally convinced him to marry at the age of forty—a marriage he was unable to consummate. After his marriage his influence waned. He had previously been seen as a male tzaddik (righteous man) residing in the body of a woman. With his marriage, his identity as a woman was established, diminishing his credibility as a religious leader. The story is a sad one, full of repressed transsexuality. Although there is no evidence that he ever was an active lesbian his ambiguous gender was directly responsible for his influence as a Chasidic leader and his return to "normality" for the loss of his power.