Dr. Jillian T. Weiss

"When I Was A Little Boy, I Prayed To God"

Filed By Dr. Jillian T. Weiss | August 09, 2010 8:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: CBST Community Chorus, Congregation Beth Simchat Torah, Siddur B'chol L'vav'cha

Several years ago, my synagogue asked me to write something about being transgender and Jewish.Jill022.jpg

I grew up very, very devoutly religious, and I felt terrible about my feelings inside. It hurt me every day. Can you see it in that little face?

The piece has been published in our prayer book, Siddur B'chol L'vav'cha (which means "With All Your Heart," a reference to the injunction in Deuteronomy 6:5 to love God with all your heart).

I thought you might find it interesting.

Growing up very religious, and believing very deeply, I thought a lot about God.

This prayer is about how I felt about being trans, and my relationship with God, as a young person in my pre-teen and early teen years, and how that resolved as I grew older.

"When I was a little boy, I prayed to God.

I prayed God would make me a girl because I knew I wasn't really a boy, not inside. I didn't want to keep pretending to be a boy because it was hard to pretend all the time. I knew I couldn't go on forever pretending like that. It made me very tired and sad. I wondered why God would want me to be tired and sad every day.

But I tried hard not to disappoint God.

One morning, after praying like this for many years, I woke up and God had changed me.

God changed my tiredness into courage. God gave me the courage to tell the truth. God gave me the courage to tell people that I wasn't a boy, even though it made some people laugh and some people get mad.

God's courage has made me happy. God's courage has taught me to love myself. God's courage lets my outside be like my inside. God's courage gives me the gift of honesty. God is Truth.

I thank God for giving me the courage to tell the truth. I thank God for giving me the courage to be me.

Thank you God, for creating the whole infinitely complex universe and for creating the infinitely complex me."

This is also available on the Jeff Herman Virtual Resource Center of Hebrew Union College.

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Thank you, Jillian. You've really got it. Your destiny is fabulous.

Welcome to the New Age.
Welcome to the Masterplan.

So beautiful. Thank you.

I'm always impressed by people who have been marginalized taking the concepts of religion and making it work for themselves. It's too easy for some people to have "I'm wrong" beaten into them. Thanks, Jill.

This was stunningly beautiful, Jill. I made sure to add it to the TBP page as well as my own.

As I learn more and more about you, I adore you more.

Very moving. I am reminded of my own Catholic upbringing and the difficulties I had growing up gay. They say God has a plan. It's not always immediately apparent. If we're lucky, he graces us with the courage to fight through the hard times until we can figure out what his plan is.

It is obvious, to me at least, that his plan for you was to be the wonderful, inspiring and courageous woman that you are.

Hi Gillian.

I never prayed for that. For one thing, I did really well in Sunday School. And I decided it was all on a par with Santa Claus. At age 3, I'd climbed into the fireplace and verified for myself there was no freaking way that anyone could get down a chimney. Even if they could magically thin themselves down - because they'd be as black and filthy as I was, and the stench in the chimney was overpowering. But I digress.

The thing was... I was a girl. I didn't want to be one. Boys got to do the cool stuff. Be Doctors and Astronauts, not Beauticians and Secretaries. Being put in the wrong group wasn't a great inconvenience, I was more concerned about the upheaval that would happen when everyone found out that a mistake had been made, when I reached my teens.

They weren't big on Sex Ed in England in the 60's. I had no idea that boys and girls were born looking different, I thought that differentiation only happened at Puberty.

Anyways.... I didn't pray. For there was no-one to pray to. Not for me the desperate longing to be like other girls either. I was OK with it.

Of course... Gender Dysphoria gets worse with age.

If there is an Almighty, I'm going to have serious words with Him. Because I did get a miraculous change. OK, at age 47, a bit late, but I'm not complaining about that. I learnt the meaning of the word "Happiness". Something most humans on the planet take for granted. It was something I'd never been, you see. You know what it's like, you're Trans.

My beef is that I got a miraculous change without asking for it, and so many, many, many Trans children cry their hearts out every night for that very thing, and are not granted it.

Why ME? Why did I get such a wonderful cure when so many who deserve it, who pray for it, do not? I don't even believe in God. Something is seriously awry.

Maybe there's some great Divine Plan, that all this - and Auschwitz for that matter - is necessary. There had better be.

Stuart Wilber | August 10, 2010 11:50 AM

We treasure you Dr. Jillian Weiss - your truth-telling and your truths are an inspiration and a reminder to us that telling the truth is an option that can change hearts and minds.

Growing up Baptist I had to pray to God's Son! I used to also pray to God directly even thought I was so frightened to bypass. I was caught wearing lipstick early on in life and got the belt for it! I never let my parents see me as I saw myself again except in Cub Scouts. For a Halloween, they chose me to be a bride in the Halloween float! I was the smallest and the only one to be able to fit the Brides dress they had! I was in Heaven! Makeup Hair done, nail polish, and all the under garments. Wow It was as if the Cub Scout den-leader knew! I mostly played with the Girls on the block and we would play nurse and doctor I got to play nurse most of the time! the girls sometimes chose me as a patient and they were very interested that I did not look like them but they treated me as one of the girls anyway! Dr. Jillian Weiss Thank you for bringing me down memory lane! What a great trip!

Wonderful. I have been wanting to do a paper for my religious community addressing our views of LGBT issues theologically. While my faith is very different from your own this was very nice to read and share with you.

Jillian, this is absolutely beautiful. It is for children like you once were that I must stand up and speak out. Children must know that God loves them exactly as they are, unchanged.

You said "God is Truth." That simple statement belies the complexity of the thought behind it. It is what we all struggle to learn. Your courage is a testament to your faith and an example for us all.

Jillian, I would like to think that 95% of the fortitude it took for you to become came from your own resources :)

Mazel tov! Your post brought tears to my eyes! Beautiful words.

Jillian, your prayer was read at the Pride Shabbat at Temple deHirsch Sinai in Seattle June 25. I started crying when it was read, because I felt like there was something in the service that related to my experience. I used up two packages of tissues the rest of the service.

I am not religious and I don't believe in g_d. But I started having panic attacks in church (I was raised Catholic) in high school, when I was already quite conscious of being trans, but could no longer cry. The panic attacks went away when I came out, but Pride Shabbat was the first service I've been to since then. It occurred to me at Pride Shabbat that the panic attacks happened when I would be emotional and might cry, which my Dad had beaten out of me.

Thanks for writing something so moving and true.