How does the way you understand and interact with your gender affect your connection to god and spirituality?
How does the way in which others perceive and interact with your gender affect you?
What role does gender play in a community?
What role does sexuality play the way that we understand gender?
What responsibility, if any, does religious community hold to govern or direct those who do not conform to traditional gender roles?
How do we create an inclusive community from a religious tradition that has not always been inclusive?
CCAR Responsa 5769.6: "Circumcision of a Transgender Female"
"The Rabbis, it seems, were aware that not every individual falls clearly within the established gender boundaries, and the category of androgynos served as a special designation encompassing those who straddle the lines. To put this another way, although the traditional Jewish world view presumes the existence of two genders and assigns many religious and ritual responsibilities accordingly, the Sages found a place for this person, who otherwise would not fit within their conceptual world. To us, the great message of these texts is the duty of inclusion: like the Rabbis, we, too, are obligated to find a place within our midst for the outsider, the Jew who does not seem to fit within the established boundaries and social categories upon which our communities are normally based."
The fact that we accept this person as a woman, however, does not necessarily answer our second question. The decision to waive the requirement for "milat gerim" assumes that gender identity, the person’s subjective sense of self, is the determining factor in this question. In our view, however, the objective fact of birth sex is the more compelling consideration. While the Biblical sources of this mitzvah (Genesis 17:10-11 and Leviticus 12:2-3) make it clear that only a male (zakhar) is to be circumcised, they describe the essence of that ritual as the removal of the foreskin (basar orlato). This individual, who possesses a foreskin, is therefore a member of that group of people who are subject to this ritual. Let us be clear: we accept this individual as a female because she presents herself as such and because we understand today – as few could possibly have imagined until very recently in human history – that one’s gender identity is not automatically determined by one’s birth sex. But the objective reality of her birth sex (which, as we have seen, is a very different thing from “gender identity”) does make her one of those who according to our tradition are to carry ot berit, the sign of the covenant of Abraham and of Sinai. Had she undergone sex reassignment surgery prior to her conversion – in other words, had she altered that objective reality through surgical means to bring her sex in line with her gender identity – circumcision would obviously not have been required of her. In the absence of that surgery, we are persuaded that the better response is to urge milah in cases such as this."
How do you understand the phrase "made in the image of god"?
Arthur Green,"Ehyeh: A Kabbalah for Tomorrow," quoting Abraham Joshua Heschel:
"Why are we forbidden to make images of God? It is not because God is beyond all images, so that no image could possibly depict God. If that were the case, images would merely be harmless. God has and image, and that is you. You may not make the image of God because you are the image of God. The only medium in which you can make God's image is the medium of your entire life, and that is precisely what we are commanded to do. Everything you do, everything you say, each moment and the way you use it are all part of the way you build God's image. To take anything less than a full, living human being - like canvas or a piece of marble - and call it the image of God would be to diminish God, to lessen God's image."