My 40-year memoir of the joys and struggles with my own spirituality, gender identity, and commitment to living true to myself.
What is 40 Years in the Wilderness – My Journey to Authentic Living?
The story I tell is one of a man, facing his truth, embracing the woman she was always meant to be, and returning to her faith with wholeness and authenticity. I believe my story must be told. It is important for everyone to hear and will hopefully inspire and empower many others who face seemingly insurmountable obstacles to wholeness in their lives.
My story is not simply a tale of personal triumph over inner demons. Rather, I am telling my story in order to, with the help of God, inspire and help others who are mired in obstacles — people for whom achieving a life of authenticity, genuineness, and wholeness feels impossible. I, like many individuals, was paralyzed by fear, shame, and low self-esteem for most of my life.
Like me, these individuals find themselves unable to make the leap of faith they need to honor their own inner truth. Many people, deep inside, yearn to somehow catapult past their personal demons, the forces strangling, suffocating, and wringing the life out of them.
40 Years in the Wilderness: My Journey to Authentic Living will appeal to any human being who struggles daily to be honest with him or her self. Imagine what it would be like for that person to wake up one morning and live the entire day as a personal testimony to his or her inner truth. The Jew, the gender variant, or anyone, who wonders how he or she can go on one more day living a life that belongs to someone else, a life that is tragically not their own. My book may, just may, help one of these individuals. It is for that one individual I am writing this book.
In 1971 I visited Israel for the first time, a 20-year-old man tormented by gender identity confusion. Long before the advent of the internet, support groups, and immediate accessibility to both massive amounts of information and a global community, I felt isolated from the world. I truly believed I was the only person on the planet suffering from the chronic pain of feeling that I was a female trapped in a male body. I left Israel feeling a new sense of pride in my Jewish identity. I made a commitment to myself to study and experience more of Jewish culture and tradition. Alongside this enthusiasm was the certainty that I would always be challenged by my own Judaism, even more than the world in general, to live an authentic life. In a way, my newly found source of pride and identity only exacerbated my distance and disconnect from myself and from those around me.
The Jewish world that I was about to explore adhered to a strict binary gender system, leaving no room for the blurring of lines or any fluidity.
As with the children of Israel’s physical journey in the wilderness, I journeyed for 40 years in my own personal wilderness. I too left a place of exile, a place of bitter enslavement to forces inhibiting my authenticity. And I too, after 40 years in the wilderness, began to experience personal redemption and sweet freedom, to taste truth and wholeness. In 2011, I returned to Israel. This time I was no longer tormented by gender identity confusion. This time I did not feel isolated from the world. This time I was no longer one gender trapped in the body of another. This time I was a woman.