Gender Inclusion at JRC
JRC is committed to the full equality and inclusion of people of all gender identities and gender expressions. JRC strives to be a safe, supportive environment for all of its members and visitors and recognizes the need to be proactive in creating a culture that respects and values all members of our community. JRC also recognizes that people of all genders and gender identities benefit from an inclusive congregation.
JRC’s affirmation of its commitment to inclusion of individuals of all gender identities led to a similar affirmation by the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College.
About the Task Force
The Gender Inclusion Task Force provides information and facilitates opportunities for learning and advocacy on the issue of gender diversity and inclusion. The Task Force works to ensure that JRC is welcoming in all aspects of congregational life including educational programs, ritual, facilities, communication, and events.
Gender Inclusion Policy
On March 9, 2016, the JRC Board passed the following motion:
It is moved that JRC affirm its commitment to the full equality and inclusion of
people of all gender identities and gender expressions. A task force has been
formed to make recommendations to the Board regarding how best to implement
It is further moved that JRC publicly affirm this commitment and advocate that
the Reconstructionist Movement affirm its own commitment to the full equality
and inclusion of people of all gender identities and gender expressions.
Gender Inclusion Procedures
These procedures are the realization and reflection of the vision set forth by the Board in its
commitment to full equality and inclusion for people of all genders, gender identities and gender
expressions. JRC strives to be a safe, supportive environment for all of its members and visitors.
JRC recognizes the need to be proactive in creating a culture that respects and values all
members of our community. JRC also recognizes that people of all genders and gender identities
benefit from an inclusive congregation. While these procedures cannot address every situation
that may arise, the hope and goal is to provide guidance so that all people are treated
compassionately and with respect.
Understanding the terminology associated with gender identity is important to providing a safe
and supportive environment for all people. These definitions are provided not for the purpose of
labeling but rather to assist in understanding these procedures and to aid the JRC community in
fully understanding gender inclusion.
- Cisgender: Cisgender is a term used to describe people whose gender identity corresponds with their assigned sex at birth.
- Gender Identity: Gender identity is a person’s inner sense of being male or female, a combination of both, or neither, regardless of their sex assigned at birth. All people have a gender identity, not just transgender people. It is important to note that some people might not feel comfortable asserting their gender.
- Gender Expression: Gender expression is an individual’s characteristics and behaviors such as appearance, dress, mannerisms, speech patterns, and social interactions that are perceived as masculine or feminine.
- Gender Expansive (also called Gender Nonconforming, Gender Variant, or Gender Creative): Gender expansive is a term that refers to individuals whose gender expression does not follow social expectations or stereotypes based on their sex assigned at birth. It may (or may not) include a change in gender identity. For example, a person with sex assigned at birth as male could be: “I am a girl and I like to express femininity.” Or “I am a boy and I like to express femininity.”
- Sex Assigned at Birth: Sex Assigned at Birth is often based solely on external genitalia but also includes internal reproductive structures, chromosomes, hormone levels, and secondary sex characteristics. This is typically the sex reflected on one’s original birth certificate.
- Sexual Orientation: Sexual orientation is a person’s emotional and sexual attraction to other people based on the gender of the other person. Sexual orientation is not the same as gender identity. Not all transgender people identify as gay, lesbian or bisexual, and not all gay, lesbian and bisexual people display gender nonconforming characteristics.
- Transgender: Transgender is a term that describes individuals whose gender identity is different from what is assumed based on their sex assigned at birth, and/or whose gender expression is different from the way males or females are stereotypically expected to look or behave. This term applies to identity, appearance, and behavior but not necessarily body parts. This is an umbrella term for a variety of gender identities and expressions.
- Transition: Transition is the process whereby people may change their gender expression, bodies and/or identity documents to match their internal gender identity. Transition can be social, emotional, and/or medical and is different for every individual. For some transgender people, particularly children, the experience of transition does not involve medical intervention but rather will be achieved through social transition, a process whereby they begin to live and identify with the gender consistent with their gender identity.
Names, Pronouns and Gender Markers
All transgender and gender expansive individuals are to be referred to by their name, gender, and
pronoun of preference at JRC, including within the early childhood and religious school
JRC will ensure that it only requests gender information from members when necessary and that
people are able to provide the gender, gender terms, pronouns and other gender markers to which
Every person who enters JRC shall have access to restrooms that correspond to their gender
identity regardless of the person’s sex assigned at birth. The discomfort of other people is not a
reason to deny access to a restroom to a transgender individual. JRC will also explore
opportunities to provide gender-neutral restrooms.
Participation in Activities and Programs
All members and visitors to JRC shall be permitted to participate in programming consistent with
their gender identity, including in early childhood and religious school programming. JRC will
also endeavor to avoid gendered programming whenever possible.
JRC will plan events at JRC and participate in events in the community to support gender
diversity and inclusion, including PRIDE Chicago and Trans Remembrance Day.
Curriculum and Pedagogy
In the early childhood and religious school programs, all teachers, administrators, staff, and
support staff shall use a gender-affirming approach. A gender-affirming approach is a
framework used to create an environment in which transgender and gender expansive youth are
able to live as the gendered person they identify themselves to be, and achieve healthy
development and social, emotional, and academic success. This approach includes affirming
students’ gender identities and being flexible during gender transition processes.
Teachers are encouraged to develop age-appropriate lessons for students about gender diversity
and acceptance regardless of whether or not there is a transgender student in their class. Staff
should create inclusive lessons so that all students see themselves reflected in the curriculum. It
is essential that an individual student’s gender transition or personal gender history should never
be the subject of a class lesson.
Books used in the programs and available in the classrooms should include accurate information
on gender diversity.
A gender-affirming approach should also be used in all adult educational courses and
All rituals at JRC may be adapted to ensure that all individuals feel safe, included, and honored.
To discuss individual rituals, please contact Rabbi Weiss.
How You Can Help
Attend Task Force events.
Reach out to Task Force members and Rabbi Weiss to learn more about gender identity and how you can help support a positive and welcoming JRC environment.
Want to know more? Please email [email protected].