Roadside Assistance: My Teenage Daughter Wants to Transition to a Boy

Roadside Assistance: My Teenage Daughter Wants to Transition to a Boy


Rabbi Rami explores your questions about trans loved ones, the image of God, and interpreting dreams.

This is a very difficult question for me to ask. My teenage daughter wants to transition to a boy. I love my daughter and I support her decision, but I love my Bible too, and I’m told I must choose between them. I am desperate for you to show me otherwise.

Rabbi Rami: What a blessing that the love you and your child share is strong enough to work through this together. Let’s see if we can do the same with the Bible by engaging in a close rabbinic reading of Genesis 1:26: “Let us make adam in our image, after our likeness;” and Genesis 1:27: “God created adam in God’s image, in the image of God, God created him; male and female God created them.”

First, the Hebrew word adam (pronounced ah-dahm) usually translated as “man,” comes from the Hebrew adamah and is best translated as “earthling.” Indeed, “man” (ish in Hebrew) doesn’t appear in the Bible until after woman (ishah) is removed from adam’s side (not rib) in Genesis 2:24. Technically, woman is created before man in the Bible.

Second, notice the pronouns referring to adam in verse 27: him and them. According to ancient rabbinic commentators, the singular pronoun him reveals that only one adam/earthling was created; the plural pronoun them reveals that this one adam was an androgyne: a being both female and male. From this, the rabbis spoke of six possible sexes: ishah (female), ish (male), tumtum (one who is neither female nor male), androgyne (one who is both female and male), aylonit (a person designated female at birth who becomes male later on), and saris (a person designated as male at birth who fails to develop as a man or who has his testicles removed, which is the closest they could imagine to a male becoming female). With this in mind, let’s look at the notion of “image and likeness.”

In Genesis 1:26, God says, “Let us make adam in our image, after our likeness.” In Genesis 1:27, however, only God’s image is mentioned. Why? God’s image is the original androgynous nature of an earthling at birth: adam as female and male. God’s likeness is how that androgynous earthing develops over time into one of the six sexes. When your child speaks about transitioning from female to male, think of this as the androgynous image of God maturing into the likeness of God as an aylonit. This is not a violation of God’s design but a natural part of it.

I’m always looking for God. Why is God so difficult to find?

I’m surprised you are having difficulty finding God. In my experience, God is everywhere. There’s Christ, Krishna, Allah, Kali, Ahone, Ataensic, Zeus, Y-H-V-H, Lakshmi, Saraswati, Na-maka-o-Kaha’i, the list goes on and on. What are you looking for that one or more of these gods fails to offer? Answering my own question, I would say that I am looking for the looker: not the God one can see, but the Seer forever unseen and unseeable. This is the I AM the Hebrew Bible calls Ehyeh, and the Upanishads call Aham Brahmasmi. This is the I AM at the heart of the teaching of Jesus, Nisargadatta Maharaj, and Ramesh Balsekar. You can’t find this God because you are this God.

My granddaughter, Mia, died two weeks ago. She was one year old. I’m not religious. Maybe spiritual, I don’t know. A friend said Mia died because she had completed her work on Earth. This comforted me for a moment, then I asked her what work Mia could have completed as an infant. She looked at me and just smiled. I wanted to smack her. I am deadened with grief. Why do you think Mia died? What was the task she completed?

With all due respect and compassion, Mia died because living was more than her tiny body could manage. As for her task, there is only one task we humans are called to in life: love, and this is not a task one completes. As Rabbi Tarfon said centuries ago, “We are not expected to complete this task, but neither are we free to abandon it” (Pirke Avot 2:21). If Mia awakened you to love, then she continued the task she and we are called to do. This is no small thing. Mia didn’t abandon the task of love. You shouldn’t either.

I am so tired of mass shootings. Do thoughts and prayers help? What can we do to really change things?

Thoughts and prayers don’t help because the thoughts we think and the prayers we offer are creations of the same mind that caused the shooting in the first place: a mind trapped in what Albert Einstein called the delusion of dualistic consciousness alienating us from one another and from nature. If things are to change, we need to experience what St. Paul called metanoia, literally going beyond our delusional dualistic mindset to know all life as the manifesting of nondual Aliveness. This should be the primary work of religion: not loyalty to tribe or dogma but awakening to the One manifesting as all. This should be the primary work of spirituality: not the pursuit of self-actualization but the pursuit of self-realization. Unless and until enough of us change, nothing will change.

I have dreamed the same dream every couple of days for over a month. I’m walking down a flight of stairs wrapped around a tower. The stairs lead to a river where a tall woman with long white hair wearing a flowing red robe and hood walks along the riverbank. Her back is turned toward me. I know I am supposed to meet her, but a voice from atop the tower calls me to walk back upstairs. I hesitate in my descent and wake up. What does this mean?

Only the dreamer can determine the meaning of their dream. That said, if this were my dream, I’d say the tower is my conscious mind, and my descent is my journey into the subconscious where Mother Wisdom awaits to baptize me in the Water of New Life. My ego is calling me back, fearing what this immersion will bring. The dream reoccurs because it remains uncompleted. Given that the dream is interrupted by my ego, I would say this to my ego before I go to sleep: “I know you want to protect me, and I appreciate that. So, let’s make a deal. Let me descend to the River and the Woman Who Waits; let’s see what comes from my being baptized by Her. If it turns out to be too much for me, please call me to wakefulness. Otherwise, trust that I will return to you on my own and that both of us will be richer for it.”

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Roadside Assistance My Teenage Daughter Wants to Transition to a Boy

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