April 23, 2012
In 2008, Joy (formerly Jay) Ladin made headlines around the world when, after years of teaching at an Orthodox Jewish university as a man, she returned as a woman. In Through the Door of Life, Ladin takes readers on a distinctly Jewish journey through the transition process – a process not just of changing genders, but of creating a new self. From her childhood discovery that the God portrayed in the Torah seemed to share her social problems and the condition that caused them – it’s hard to make friends when you don’t have a body – to her account of visiting the Wailing Wall first as a man, then as a woman, Ladin’s gender identity and Jewish identity are in dialogue with one another – a dialogue that went public when she became the first openly transgender employee of an Orthodox Jewish institution. With unsparing honesty and surprising humor, Ladin wrestles with both the nuts-and-bolts problems of gender transition, such as how to change from female to male on the way to work, and the Jewish tradition that both clarifies and complicates the larger moral, spiritual and philosophical questions raised by the mismatch between the gender of her body and the gender of her soul.