This afternoon, I taught a Trans 101 workshop to seventh grade students at the synagogue I attended as a child. Mere hours later, I received this email:
Dear Rebecca,My name is [name removed] and you spoke at my synagogue to the seventh grade class. I was in that audience and I thought that you were so inspiring. I’m having my Bat Mitzvah [this year] and I would love to do something in the transgender community to spread awareness. I was wondering if there is anything you could suggest to get started.Thank you, [name removed]
I’m slowly getting used to receiving emails from students or audience members. It certainly doesn’t happen every time I perform or teach a workshop, but it’s not uncommon. I’ve received emails from trans or genderqueer people sharing their experiences, the loved ones of trans people talking about how my work helped them understand a trans person in their lives, and people who have no familiarity with trans issues and had their eyes opened a little. I always love receiving such emails, since it assures me the work that I’m doing has some life beyond the classroom or theater space. That said, this may be my favorite email of the all the ones I’ve received.
I love her earnest honesty, and her desire to Do Something. For those who aren’t familiar with why her upcoming Bat Mitzvah might prompt this email, most (all?) synagogues require kids about to undergo Bar or Bat Mitzvah to do some sort of public good deed. Mitzvah literally means commandment, but can also mean a moral deed done as a spiritual or religious act, even if deed itself isn’t religious. (For my Bar Mitzvah, I collected money (about $140, if I remember) for the Make A Wish Foundation.) I am so excited to encourage this student, and hope to talk with her and her parents about a project that is appropriate for her, and will also have a real impact.