Conservative Movement Affirms Rights of Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming People

Posted on: Thursday June 2, 2016

NEW YORK — In light of continued discrimination against individuals who are transgender or gender non-conforming, the world’s Conservative and Masorti rabbis for the first time have passed a stand-alone resolution affirming the rights of such individuals.

The resolution was one of 10 measures the Rabbinical Assembly, the association of Conservative and Masorti rabbis, recently approved, dealing with topical matters that include police brutality, Syrian refugees and persecuted Christians.

“With this year’s robust set of resolutions, the Rabbinical Assembly reaffirmed its long-standing commitment to justice in all segments of society,” said Rabbi Edward C. Bernstein, who co-chaired the Rabbinical Assembly Resolutions Committee with Rabbi David Baum.

The transgender resolution encourages all bodies affiliated with the Conservative movement, including synagogues, schools and camps, to work toward becoming welcoming and inclusive places for people of all gender identities. The measure builds upon a 2011 Resolution in Support of Equal Rights and Inclusion for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, And Transgender (GLBT) Persons, focusing this time specifically on transgender and non-conforming individuals.

“Given the many states and municipalities that have been passing discriminatory laws aimed at individuals who are transgender and non-conforming, we felt it was especially important to highlight our support for those individuals,” said Rabbi Julie Schonfeld, executive vice president. “As the resolution notes, rabbinic tradition emphasizes the importance of kvod habriyot, human dignity. With this resolution, we want to remind all institutions affiliated with the Conservative movement of this tradition, and urge them to recognize the needs of these individuals and treat them with the greatest respect.”

Among the nine other resolutions passed by the RA, the Resolution on Racial Injustice and Police Brutality comes after a year of tremendous racial tensions, and attention on harsh police enforcement policies. Among other clauses, the resolution urges synagogues to form relationships across lines of faith and race, as well as with local law enforcement.

The Resolution on Refugees calls on the U.S. government to reject policy proposals that would halt or limit funding for refugee resettlement in the U.S., or prioritize certain refugees over others.

“Our resolutions give guidance to our members and leadership on stances we take on public issues. This resolution on refugees was a result of a number of positions we have taken through various press releases and statements. This resolution was our way of getting our membership’s approval for our past stances,” said Rabbi Baum.

A resolution on anti-Muslim bigotry urges the RA and its members to denounce such bigotry and calls for partnerships with Muslim community organizations.

Another resolution states that the RA will join JACOB: The Jewish Alliance of Concern Over Burma, to inform the Jewish community of this genocide and urge Jews to join efforts to help the Rohingya and address the root causes of this oppression.

Other resolutions call for the implementation of family leave policies, condemn the persecution of Christians, support gun safety advocacy, call on the Israeli government to abide by court rulings regarding asylum seekers, and advocate for clean energy and the reduction of greenhouse gases.

The RA notified its membership of the new resolutions last week.