Hasidic Jewish man Srully Stein leaves community to live as a transgender woman

Before: Although she always knew she was a woman, Abby grew up in an Orthodox household in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and felt there were no options for her other than what the religion offered
  • Srully Stein, 24, from Brooklyn, got married at age 18 and soon had a child, despite knowing he was a woman since childhood
  • At age 20, Srully, who now goes by Abby, left Hasidism and began transitioning into a woman
  • Her family and former community are outraged, and her father hasn't spoken to her since she broke the news
  • However, Abby says 17 members of the Hasidic community have reached out to her about their similar gender identity struggles

A former Hasidic Jewish man has angered the orthodox community and his family by transitioning into a woman and speaking out about the religion's strict biases.

Srully Stein, 24, who now goes by the name Abby, recently came out as a woman after years of trying to suppress her true identity in a restrictive, ultra-conservative household in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

Calling her childhood 'horrible', Abby writes on her blog: 'Not only was I confused, but as you all know, in the community that I was raised in, Trans did not exist, neither was it ever discussed.

Brave: Srully Stein, 24, who now goes by the name Abby, left his Hasidic Jewish community at age 20 to transition into a woman 

Brave: Srully Stein, 24, who now goes by the name Abby, left his Hasidic Jewish community at age 20 to transition into a woman 

Before: Although she always knew she was a woman, Abby grew up in an Orthodox household in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and felt there were no options for her other than what the religion offered 

Before: Although she always knew she was a woman, Abby grew up in an Orthodox household in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and felt there were no options for her other than what the religion offered 

'I was therefore convinced that I have to be crazy, and that I have to get this "stupidity" of feeling like a girl, out of my head.'

Abby, whose grandfather is the prominent Rabbi Mordechai Stein, says that from the age of 14, she was continuously depressed because she knew her true identity, but felt like she couldn't really do anything about it. 

So, at age 18, she followed the traditional Hasidic path and got married and had a child. 

But two years later, she divorced her wife and officially left the community to pursue a college education and find her true identity.

When she was 22, she met with a gender specialist, who told her: 'You are a woman, and you ought to deal with that.'

 
Making changes: Abby followed the traditional Hasidic path by getting married at age 18 and having a child. But at age 20, she left the community and began to embrace her true identityMaking changes: Abby followed the traditional Hasidic path by getting married at age 18 and having a child. But at age 20, she left the community and began to embrace her true identity

Making changes: Abby, who is pictured in a recent Facebook image, followed the traditional Hasidic path by getting married at age 18 and having a child. But at age 20, she left the community to embrace her true identity

A long journey: From her birth in 1991 to 2012, Abby lived as a Hasidic man. From 2012 - 2015, she lived as a secular man. Finally, this year, she began dressing as a woman and undergoing hormone replacement therapyA long journey: From her birth in 1991 to 2012, Abby lived as a Hasidic man. From 2012 - 2015, she lived as a secular man. Finally, this year, she began dressing as a woman and undergoing hormone replacement therapyA long journey: From her birth in 1991 to 2012, Abby lived as a Hasidic man. From 2012 - 2015, she lived as a secular man. Finally, this year, she began dressing as a woman and undergoing hormone replacement therapy

A long journey: From her birth in 1991 to 2012, Abby lived as a Hasidic man. From 2012 - 2015, she lived as a secular man. Finally, this year, she began dressing as a woman and undergoing hormone replacement therapy

Challenges: It was extremely difficult for Abby to leave the community, especially because her grandfather is the prominent Rabbi Mordechai Stein

Challenges: It was extremely difficult for Abby to leave the community, especially because her grandfather is the prominent Rabbi Mordechai Stein

Abby, who grew up in a strict household without internet, TV, or movies, reveals that transitioning - and adjusting to secular life - was extremely difficult because of her conservative upbringing.

'My family and community was so sheltered that up to around 14, I thought that most of the world is Jewish and most of the Jews are ultra-Orthodox,' she tells the New York Post.

She says that she hasn't heard from her father since she broke the news about her gender transition.

'I think right now it’s shock more than anything. He doesn’t know what to do,' shares Abby, who began hormone replacement therapy on September 4.

Members of the Hasidic community are similarly outraged, with one person writing in the group's WhatsApp chat: 'And family is nothing? The lowest scum of earth live with deficiencies with lifelong pain not to hurt their family.

Breaking free: On her blog, Abby reveals she met with a gender specialist shortly after leaving the Hasidic community, and was told that she was a woman 

Breaking free: On her blog, Abby reveals she met with a gender specialist shortly after leaving the Hasidic community, and was told that she was a woman 

Milestones: In addition to her gender identity, Abby says she left Hasidism to pursue her education. She is currently enrolled at Columbia University, where she is taking classes in gender studies

Milestones: In addition to her gender identity, Abby says she left Hasidism to pursue her education. She is currently enrolled at Columbia University, where she is taking classes in gender studies

Helping others: Abby says that 17 people in the Hasidic community have reached out to her revealing similar gender struggles

Helping others: Abby says that 17 people in the Hasidic community have reached out to her revealing similar gender struggles

'I saw your father today in synagogue, he is going to die of the shame you have caused him. No human in the world puts his pleasure in front of the pain of his loved ones. What kind of animal are you?'

Another person wrote: 'It’s all the devil, the evil inclination that says there is such a thing a man can be born in the wrong body.'

However, many people in the community have also shown support to Abby - and some have even come out about their own gender struggles.

'Since I’ve gone public, 17 people have reached out to me who still live within the community and struggle with similar things. Most of them didn’t know there’s help,' she revealed.

Abby is now raising money for her transition on her blog, but she says her main goal is to bring awareness to trans people living in the Orthodox community.

The trans activist is currently enrolled at Columbia University, where she is taking classes in gender studies and political science.

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By Mathias Dillion 11/18/2015 14:45:00
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