Raised in the Hasidic community in Williamsburg, Abby Stein went from being a Hasidic rabbi to a trans activist.
“To be honest, I didn’t know the difference between boys and girls physically because it was never discussed in our community, she explained.
At 15, Abby’s family sent her to study to become a rabbi in the Catskill mountains of New York. While she knew something we wrong, she suppressed her identity, and never openly strayed from her private teachings. She stayed until she was 20, at which point she was already married with son. The birth made her once again question what she was feeling about her identity and why the prayers and practices in her community weren’t giving her solace.
She began learning about the trans community secretly on the Internet — which is generally condemned in the Hasidic community. After doing research for three months, she eventually decided to tell her wife how she felt, and to leave her community. She was then accepted into Columbia University to get an education, but was still living as a man.
After years of struggling with her identity, she finally started hormone therapy in 2015 to start her transition process. Today, she is a blogger, speaker, and activist within the trans community.
“For people who are struggling themselves, first all know that we are out there,” she explained. “There’s so many people out there who are going to unconditionally accept you and support you. You can and will succeed.”