When Abby Stein came out as trans, she sent shock waves through the ultra-Orthodox Hasidic community. A direct descendant of Hasidic Judaism’s founder, The Baal Shem Tov, Abby’s parents considered her their first-born son and a future rabbi – but she was adamant that she was a girl.
My dad is a rabbi, and having a son was a big deal. He would always tell me that after five girls he had almost given up on having a boy, and how much it meant to him. I almost felt bad for him throughout my childhood – a feeling of: “I’m so sorry, but I can’t give you what you want.”
I didn’t know there were other people like me, but I knew what I felt – I just saw myself as a girl.
I sometimes wish that I’d had a teacher who was transphobic, because that would have meant I knew trans people existed. In the Hasidic community they simply never spoke about it.
What kept me sane during my childhood was my imagination.