Trans author, activist, speaker, and educator
Abby Chava Stein (1 October 1991) is an American transgender author, activist, blogger, model, speaker, and rabbi. She rose to fame through writing her blog "The Second Transition", which resulted in intense media coverage of her gender transition.
- [Talking about gender transition) I want to say here, in clear and bold words to all humans out there who are going through similer experiences, and especially these of Ultra-Orthodox background: "You can Do It!!! It is not going to be easy, but it is way easier than not transitioning. When you start to see the changes, and feel more comfortable with your body, you wouldn't stop loving yourself."
- I always say: I believe in Judaism more than I believe in god. [Interviewer: What do you mean by that?] Belief is maybe a very strong word. I’d say I relate to Judaism more.
- Being trans in some ways is very similar to being an atheist, in that some people don’t grasp it. People that come from different backgrounds just [say], “What do you mean you don’t believe in God?” They don’t get you. To them [religion] is just so obvious, and I feel like I keep on having that with gender, also. Some people just have in their mind very firm ideas of gender, and they just can’t get it into their head.
- [Blogging] helps me to get out my feelings, get out my emotions. [When I started] I was mainly writing for my own sake. It really helped me articulate what I think, to get my thoughts out. I like to get feedback sometimes—although there’s a lot of hate, there’s always good advice. I found it really helpful for myself. Writing always helps.
- There is no straight way to not being straight. We (Queer individuals) all have different stories.
- Personally I also identify as a Jewish Atheist, which is that from a philosophical perspective I think that there is no reason to claim that the world has a divine creator, or divine providence. However in ways of relating to something more than surface human level, I connect to an idea of deeper understanding, a connection between all of humanity, and a universal connection with everything in existence. In my experience, the Jewish Tradition as well as the Hasidic Tradition (a mystical Jewish movement founded by my ancestor the Baal Shem Tov in the 18th century) via the Neo-Hasidic teachings, offers a lot of insight.
- I loved the way Judaism does life cycle events. I loved the idea of having one day of the week off. (Even though, if I don’t believe, there’s no reason why it would be Saturday and not Tuesday). I related to Jewish music, to the food, and even the spirituality part, I’ll admit it.
- You’re saying God is all made up, but okay, who cares? People say, “I can’t pray because I feel like I’m talking to myself.” The rabbi would say, “Pray! That’s so good. Go talk to yourself.”
- I wanted to show that if you claim being trans is unacceptable in traditional Judaism, well, here is a community that is not just okay with accepting me as I am, but is celebrating with me, rejoicing with me. What I’m hoping is that by sharing my story, others in the same situation will realize that you can have your name changed in a synagogue. There are so many synagogues where you can’t, but there are also those where you can — the Jewish Reform movement, the Conservative movement. Within Orthodoxy, there’s still a long way to go. Every time something like this is done, it’s one step closer to acceptance for everyone.
- “I have mood swings, but I can deal with that by watching Netflix and eating pickles.”
- I say to a lot of people who struggle [with coming out] — they're always afraid how it's going to affect their family — and to me it's always family is really important, but there has to be a 'you' that can be part of a family. If there's no 'you,' [you can't] be part of the family.
- “Some religions might have at least a facade of a very anti-LGBT or very non-progressive culture so to speak -- or like you can’t be religious and be whatever. I’m telling you from experience that yes you can,” ... “You might have to make it work but thankfully we live in a place and in a time when there’s a lot of communities with a lot of places that you can find support.”
- The most effective path to resistance is when the persecuted, in whichever way it is, gather to fight back, together.
- When and if, all the Jews, Muslims, LGBTQIA, People of Color, People of less privileged socio-economic status, and so on, with the help of allies, gather to cry out loud: “WE RESIST” there is nothing we cannot accomplish!
- Society expects trans women to be perfect the way they expect all women to be perfect.
- “People exotic-ise you [trans individuals) in a weird way. They conflate sexuality and gender, which have nothing to do with each other. If you date women, it’s like, ‘Oh, you like women, so you wanted to become one’. If you like guys, it’s ‘Oh, you’re gay, but you didn’t want to be, so you transitioned’.”
- It’s past talking time. The time to say: ‘We’ll pray, and we’ll be fine’ is long over.
- "People use religion, dogma, community as an excuse to justify their own intolerance, or their own phobia from something that doesn't fit into their conceived notions of gender and of identity."
- "To some extent, leaving the community was even harder than transitioning. I had no idea what I was getting into. I didn't know anyone, couldn't speak the language, and didn't have an education. I didn't know how to dress. I didn't know how to talk. I remember the first time walking into a Starbucks, I was like, 'OK, what's happening here?' The culture shock is just in every level, every way. ... It's like being an immigrant in your own country."
- (On gender transition:) "It's hard, but it's possible."
Quotes about Abby SteinEdit
- Hyper-smart and fearlessly self-possessed, Stein represents a new generation of activist, an unapologetic personality whose equal passions for Judaism and human rights make her a potent force.
- [Talking about Abby's Jewish Week 36 Under 36 award] We celebrate our first-ever 36er of transgender experience — a thinker, blogger and activist.
- There are few people I was more excited to interview than Abby Stein. ... Stein bravely chronicles her struggles and triumphs on her blog and Twitter, largely focusing on the aftermath of her transition, leaving the Hasidic community she was raised in, reinventing her identity, and being a parent to her son. Currently, she’s a student at Columbia University, where she is pursuing genders studies in hopes of doing policy work relating to LGBT issues.
- So many of us have different identities. Each one is unique and each one needs to be figured out and focused on. Abby is such an inspiration [for] being yourself and finding who you are. It’s a journey, it’s a process.
- As the only Hasid in America to come out publicly as transgender, she is in great demand as a speaker from Limmud Jewish education organization, to college and LGBTQ groups. She also runs an online support group for Hasidic trans people.
- [Writing a story about Stein] In the depressing and dreary state of our political world in the Age of Trump, this is touching and lovely story about the power of transformation and self-creation is life affirming.
- Always an excellent student, Stein got her high school diploma and in 2014, enrolled in her dream school, Columbia University.
- Leaving (the Hasidic community) is anything but simple or straightforward, but through the work and advocacy of people like Stein, it has become more commonplace in recent years. When she left almost five years ago, Stein said most people in her position were shunned by their families. While leaving still causes a rift, it less frequently results in total ostracism.