Our kids are not ok and neither are we.
We are parents of trans, nonbinary, and gender-expansive children. We are also members of the Jewish community. As parents and as Jews, we urge you to take action to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our children.
In state legislatures across the country, our children’s bodies and very lives are being put up for debate by politicians with no understanding of medicine or science or regard for the prevailing opinion of health care experts. Our fundamental rights as parents to be able to make the best decisions for the physical and emotional health of our own children are being stripped away.
In 2022 more than 300 anti-trans bills were introduced, debated, or passed and more than 400 have already been proposed so far this year. These bills ban our children from participating in sports, prevent them from being able to use the bathroom, and criminalize their medical care. We know from our own experience as parents that these bills threaten to erase our children’s identities and jeopardize their lives.
We live in daily fear that these barriers will become too much for our children to bear.
45% of American LGBTQ+ youth last year reported seriously considering suicide (Trevor Project, 2022). Youth who had access to LGBTQ+-affirming communities reported lower rates of suicidality. Pikuach nefesh – saving a life – is the greatest mitzvah in Judaism. What our children need is to be embraced by their communities and for Jewish leaders to express unequivocally that they stand with them.
We salute the strength and bravery of Jewish parents and leaders like Maharat Rory Picker Neiss, Russell Neiss, Rabbi Daniel Bogard, and Senator Karen Burg who are the forefront of fighting these bills. We also thank the Central Conference for Reform Rabbis for publishing a resolution defending our children, as well as the over 200 Jewish organizations that are a part of Thrive: the Coalition to Defend Trans and LGBQ+ Youth. We encourage other organizations to do the same.
As Hayden Cohen, a queer 18-year-old in Texas, told Keshet and the Forward:
“It’s been very, very difficult” to be a trans or nonbinary youth [in Texas]. “The state is really coming for everyone I love.”
“If we saw federations and other major Jewish institutions in Texas really advocating for LGBTQ rights,” they added, “I think that so many other Jewish communities would follow suit. That could change the game here and make a pivotal difference for everyone.”
Our children are looking to you for support and action.
We ask that you:
These precious children are a small minority. They have no agenda but to live their lives. The Torah demands of us: “you must not stand idly by the blood of your neighbor” (Vayikra 19:16). We ask you to join us in fighting the surge of legal assaults on our kids. We fear for our children’s safety and dignity. We fear for their lives. We know the difference it would make for all of us for our Jewish communities to stand with us.