How One Transgender Camper Helped Shape the Entire Reform Movement

Inside Leadership

How One Transgender Camper Helped Shape the Entire Reform Movement

Playing a supporting role in a major human rights advocacy campaign is both gratifying and humbling. As we mark Transgender Awareness Week, I applaud the recent commitment that my fellow 1.5 million Reform Jews have made to the full equality, inclusion, and acceptance of people of all gender identities and gender expressions by overwhelmingly supporting a a groundbreaking movement-wide resolution on the rights of transgender and gender non-confirming people. For me, it began with one person, a girl named Hannah.

Hannah had previously attended camp as a boy named Jonah. At age 11, Hannah’s family approached us asking if we would welcome her at camp that summer as she transitioned socially to a girl. That began a process designed to enable us to say, yes, Hannah would be welcome at URJ Eisner Camp, just like other girls her age.

It was more than two years ago when I sat and talked with Hannah for the first time. That was a defining moment for me. That was the moment I understood. It’s not a joke when someone says, “I’m trapped.”

I still had a lot to learn, but any concerns about negative responses from other parents, and questions about cabin arrangements and restroom facilities, all seemed so small and inconsequential. This was simply about one little girl wanting to enjoy a summer at the Jewish camp she loves.

Read the rest of this essay from URJ Eisner Camp Director Louis Bordman in the Forward.

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