Reform leader speaks movingly about her gender-fluid child revealing identity
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Reform leader speaks movingly about her gender-fluid child revealing identity

Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner says she had to give up on the “fantasy” of her nice Jewish girl marrying a nice Jewish boy

Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner (left) with her eldest child, Tal, who is gender non-binary CREDIT: GRAHAM CHWEIDAN/ GRAHAM@GRAHAMSIMAGES.COM
Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner (left) with her eldest child, Tal, who is gender non-binary CREDIT: GRAHAM CHWEIDAN/ GRAHAM@GRAHAMSIMAGES.COM

Senior Reform Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner has spoken movingly about her gender-fluid child Tal  revealed her true identity and how, as a mother, she had to give up on the “Jewish fantasy” of her nice Jewish girl marrying a nice Jewish boy.

Tal, who now lives in Jerusalem and teaches Palestinians, came out as non-binary (when someone identifies as neither a man or a woman) when Janner-Klausner insisted Tal wear a dress to a relative’s wedding, the rabbi told BBC’s Thought for the Day.

In a subsequent article for The Telegraph, Janner-Klausner said realising your child is non-binary is “liberating,” and – as with all non-binary people – refers to Tal as “they,” rather than “he” or “she”.

Janner-Klausner said Tal had experienced an “increasing holistic calm” since coming out aged 20, and that this had helped her respond to the Government’s consultation on the Gender Recognition Act.

“It made sense,” says Janner-Klausner of Tal’s disclosure. “Our household, in many ways, was not gender binary at all. My dad looked after us and was very much ‘mum’ when mum was ill.”

She said her own reaction had involved “giving up on the fantasy of ‘nice Jewish girl getting married underneath a canopy to a nice Jewish boy… That’s not happening.” Yet she said it resonated with her own experiences.

“There are lots of spaces where I’m the only woman because the religious leadership world is so male, so if you think ‘gender isn’t key here’ then it releases you.”

With Tal, she adds: “Once you get used to it and give up on your Jewish fantasy it’s fine. They’re fulfilling a different Jewish fantasy – they teach Hebrew, they teach Palestinians in Israel, they’re ideological, they’re religious.”

Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner

Did you hear this morning's Thought for the Day on The Today Programme? It's very personal and very moving. Thank you, Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner!

Posted by BBC Radio 4 on Tuesday, 9 October 2018

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