Dear TEE community,

Fifteen years ago, activist Rachel Crandall Crocker created an annual event, marking March 31st as Transgender Day of Visibility (TDOV). Like Jews, transgender people are often only seen in the popular imagination as victims. Crocker wanted to create a day to celebrate the creative, life-affirming aspects of trans experience. Three years ago, Joe Biden became the first President to designate March 31st as TDOV and its observance has begun to spread both nationally and globally.

This week’s Shabbat service will include special readings for TDOV to acknowledge and honor the full diversity of our community. Especially at this moment, when both political and physical threats to the wellbeing of trans people are increasing, observing TDOV is an important way for American Jews to demonstrate our commitment to fostering an inclusive and welcoming community for trans and gender non-conforming individuals.

Jewish teachings emphasize the importance of treating all human beings with dignity, respect, and compassion. Observing TDOV aligns with these core Jewish values by recognizing the inherent worth and humanity of transgender people in a culture which too often marginalizes and harms them. Additionally, as our TEE community has become more inclusive, those of us who are cis gender need to continue to educate ourselves about the experiences, challenges, and resilience of our trans members and neighbors. There is a rich and long history of Jewish trans experience which we can all celebrate and embrace as part of our shared cultural heritage.

By observing TDOV, cis gender American Jews also demonstrate our commitment to being allies to the transgender community. Transgender youth are especially vulnerable and under attack at this moment* There are currently 538 proposed laws in 41 states aiming to restrict access to gender-affirming healthcare, prevent transgender students from participating in school sports consistent with their gender identity, and prohibit the teaching of LGBTQ+ topics in classrooms ( The proliferation of anti-trans legislation across the country has created a climate of fear and uncertainty for transgender individuals and their families, particularly in states where these laws have been enacted or are under consideration.

This issue is a personal one for me. As the parent of a gender non-conforming child, I have come to understand how serious these legislative attacks are. As a Jew, I regard them as comparable to the Nuremberg Laws of Nazi Germany, which stripped Jews of their rights as equal citizens. More positively, and in the spirit of TDOV,  I have been privileged to be my child’s student and learn some humility about generalizing from my own experience. I have come to appreciate so much more about the endless and amazing diversity of human identity and expression. The increasing visibility of trans people and trans history has opened up new understandings of Jewishness and the possibility of a future of greater freedom and authenticity for all of us.

I hope you will join me in this celebration.

Rabbi Drorah Setel

*For further information about supporting LGBTQ+ Jewish youth, learn about the work of Keshet at