Trans Spirituality 5/4/20

| May 4, 2020
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As we are all too painfully aware, we are deep in the COVID-19/Coronavirus crisis. Many of us are going stir crazy in our homes, while some of our trans siblings sit unhoused on the streets or turn to sex work to survive, putting themselves further at risk during these trying times. I know many people have been working tirelessly to support these less fortunate of our siblings. This, in fact, is COMMANDED by our religious doctrines, and is HOLY work, even if those doing it do not see it as such.

During Passover, those of us who are engaged Jews, always end up spending more money than usual because of predatory pricing on kosher food. I urged those who could this year to spend an amount at least EQUAL to their Passover spending on food banks and other ways to support those in need right now. Because I’m financially secure, I chose to do far more than this, and I hope many others did as well.

In my pastoral counseling work, I have recently begun working with an organization called Ruach, which means Spirit. We are supporting people across the country who have nobody else to turn to for emotional support during this crisis. I have several clients who come from traditional backgrounds, but are queer and do not want to hear traditional religious answers. When I assured them that as a pastoral counselor, I would not break out the religious stuff unless they specifically asked for it, they were quite relieved.

In fact, I have worked with trans clients who are Pagan, Wiccan and Satanist for the same reason. They trust that I will work with their needs but not preach to them.

To be quite honest, even to me as a rabbi, the traditional answers don’t really work. The Talmud teaches “if you have a headache, study Torah…”. Let me tell you, I suffer from chronic debilitating headaches. When they hit, the last thing I can do is study Torah or anything else, so this kind of solution does not work for me. I share this with my clients, because I believe that sharing my disabilities and issues makes me more real and human to them, and builds trust. I have been very successful with this, even though the conventional wisdom in standard therapy training is to not reveal too much about yourself.

But I do have to wonder. When people who still hold to religious traditions do not want to engage in them during trying times, what do they engage in to give them grounding? Especially now when we don’t really have communal energy. Sure, some people live in collectives and have their communal neighbors, but most people don’t. And we have social media and video and audio, but it’s just not the same as communal energy.

And then we have all of our trans siblings who came from religious traditions and abandoned them because of the abuse heaped on them by the religious leaders. And also those who were raised atheist and agnostic. They do not have a tradition to turn to in times of turmoil. So many of them turn to science as the answer.

Before I was a rabbi, I WAS a scientist. I have degrees in chemistry and engineering. I was a Navy Nuclear Engineer. I know from science. But it is important to remember that in the end, science is at its heart, PEOPLE. And People are flawed. Especially when it is the government setting the agenda for science.

But even when it’s not, there are flaws, so for instance, the late Prof. Stephen Hawking was a proponent of the Multiverse theory. The problem is that it does nothing to prove the origin of existence. Why? Drill down to the original universe of the Multiverse. Drill down to the original energy of that universe. Where did it come from? The Multiverse cannot answer it! We as people have limitations, but then so do religions.

The Rambam, Rabbi Moses Maimonides, taught that it is best to take a balanced, moderate approach in life, and I truly believe that this is the best approach. So I approach things with both religious and scientific principles since I can access both. And I do not go to extremes on either.

I hope that we can all find balance in our lives through the remainder of this crisis, and quickly return to normalcy.

Peace out,


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Category: Transgender Body & Soul


About the Author ()

Rabbah Rona Matlow (ze/hir) is an AMAB NB trans woman. Ze is a retired navy nuclear power officer, permanently disabled veteran and ordained rabbi. Ze is the author of the upcoming book “We are God’s Children Too”, part autobiography and part text which debunks the myths that conservative clergy have been teaching about trans and queer people for millennia. Ze is a communal activist, pastoral counselor and educator. Hir websites are and

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