As a transgender Jew—a Jew whose gender doesn’t readily fit into the binary categories of male and female—I have always known that the binary distinctions on which we base identity can hurt as well as help, exclude as well as embrace, lead to oppression as well as liberation... Passover is not only a festival that celebrates and enforces binary distinctions—but it is also a festival that confronts us with our inability to make messy human reality conform to those distinctions.
As maddening and uncomfortable as they can be, for me, the laws of Passover ensure that at least once a year, every observant Jew struggles with a condition of existence that transgender Jews live with and suffer from all the time: the fact that the binary distinctions on which Jews traditionally depend to define ourselves are unworkable simplifications of lives that are too complicated to fit within them.
Most Jews do not identify as transgender, but like Joseph, the Egyptian Jew / Jewish Egyptian whose assimilation into Egyptian culture first brought our ancestors to Egypt, in one way or another, all of us are always more than either/or, this or that. This Passover, I hope you will join me in celebrating that.
From Passover: Festival of Binaries by Dr. Joy Ladin
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