Jewish and trans: a com­ing-of-age story

The Canadian Jewish News (Toronto) - - News - SU­SAN MINUK SPE­CIAL TO THE CJN

Child­hood pho­to­graphs are scat­tered through­out the fam­ily home – mo­ments in time cap­tured that will al­ways be re­mem­bered.

Lu­cas Bloch, 24, re­flects on a happy child­hood when he opened his heart to The CJN to tell his story of strug­gle and tri­umph.

Bloch, who was born fe­male, grew up as a typ­i­cal tomboy.

“I had awe­some par­ents who ba­si­cally al­lowed me the free­dom to wear what­ever I wanted and do what­ever ac­tiv­i­ties I wanted,” said Bloch.

It wasn’t un­til pu­berty that Lu­cas’ emo­tional dis­tress man­i­fested it­self in sui­ci­dal thoughts and de­pres­sion. Drug use and self-harm were how he coped with anguish and dis­tress through­out high school.

“I didn’t see any fu­ture for my­self at all,” Bloch said. Bloch came out as a les­bian at age 18. “I didn’t know that I was trans. I liked girls, so ‘I am gay’ was the as­sump­tion.

“There were things I re­ally hated about my body that I didn’t think other peo­ple were ex­pe­ri­enc­ing. I re­mem­ber the com­fort I felt af­ter ‘com­ing out’ and the free­dom to start ex­per­i­ment­ing with more mas­cu­line cloth­ing and ap­pear­ance. That’s when I said to my girl­friend, ‘I re­ally wish I didn’t have breasts.’

“I found my­self com­par­ing my­self to other men, wish­ing my hips were nar­rower or my shoul­ders were broader or my jaw was more de­fined. It was a grad­ual un­der­stand­ing and dis­cov­ery of my gen­der iden­tity,” Bloch said.

He started re­search­ing ev­ery­thing trans and came across the hash­tag #FTM (fe­male to male) on In­sta­gram.

“I was mind-blown by the num­ber of fe­male-to-male tran­si­tion peo­ple. I had no idea you could tran­si­tion your body shape or get fa­cial hair,” Bloch said.

Fur­ther re­search led him to learn about bind­ing (chest flat­ten­ing), hor­mone re­place­ment ther­apy, and top surgery (which in­volves breast re­moval and chest re­con­struc­tion).

His mother, Giselle Bloch, re­called a dis­cus­sion with her son. “One day, Lu­cas and I were home alone, and I asked him with the only words that I knew, ‘Lu­cas, do you want to be a boy?’

“Lu­cas started cry­ing. He was 22 years old, and he said to me, ‘Mommy, I am trans­gen­der and I want to tran­si­tion to male.’ At that point, we went up­stairs with an ipad and a lap­top and sat for six hours read­ing and watch­ing videos to­gether. I was learn­ing and ask­ing a ton of ques­tions.”

Once Lu­cas had come out as trans­gen­der, he be­came emo­tion­ally sta­ble.

Love is love. Lu­cas had the com­plete sup­port of his fam­ily – his fa­ther and two younger sib­lings. His friends and col­leagues were also un­der­stand­ing.

The fam­ily be­longs to Tem­ple Si­nai Con­gre­ga­tion, a syn­a­gogue that is ac­cept­ing.

“I went to speak to [Tem­ple Si­nai spir­i­tual leader Rabbi Michael Dol­gin] shortly af­ter Lu­cas came out. He asked how he could help and what he could do to sup­port us, and it was won­der­ful. He made sure to use the right pro­nouns and to ad­dress Lu­cas the way he needed to be ad­dressed. It was so af­firm­ing,” Giselle said.

Lu­cas had asked his girl­friend to start us­ing male pro­nouns and to in­tro­duce him as her boyfriend.

Shortly af­ter com­ing out as trans, Lu­cas had his eggs har­vested.

“I knew I wanted kids one day. I also knew I would never carry a child – that was never an op­tion for me, but know­ing a pos­si­bil­ity of a bi­o­log­i­cal child ex­isted, I def­i­nitely wanted it,” said Bloch.

Af­ter some six months of be­ing out, Lu­cas had top surgery. About 1-1/2 months later, he be­gan hor­mone re­place­ment ther­apy.

“I take weekly in­jec­tions of testos­terone, which have low­ered my voice, given me some fa­cial hair, and changed my fat dis­tri­bu­tion. I have a ton more body hair and mus­cle mass, and my pe­riod has stopped.”

Lu­cas had a full hys­terec­tomy last Septem­ber. “I also went through gen­der marker change on all ID doc­u­men­ta­tion,” he said.

He’s pur­su­ing so­cial work at univer­sity in or­der to give back to his com­mu­nity.

His par­ents sought and found emo­tional sup­port for par­ents of trans youth.

“I had to learn that gen­der is not bi­nary, that gen­der is a spec­trum and a per­son can tran­si­tion from one to the other. Gen­der is how you feel in­side you, it’s not just based on your bi­o­log­i­cal sex,” Giselle said.

“We are now al­lies in the LGBTQ com­mu­nity and have been priv­i­leged to ac­com­pany our son down the path to­ward liv­ing his truth. I be­lieve in un­con­di­tional love.”

Lu­cas, mid­dle, with his par­ents Giselle and Alan Bloch at the eighth an­nual Trans March in Toronto last July.

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