Imagine you leave work one semester as a man but when you return to the classroom a few semesters later you are a woman. Imagine trying to smile through this gender transition if you teach at a conservative religious institution where gender roles are clearly delineated. And, just for kicks, imagine what your second day would be like if your first day back at work at Yeshiva University Stern College for Women was heralded on the front page of the New York Post with the headline, “Ye-She-Va.” Instead of imagining, you could read Joy Ladin’s dignified testimony. “I am surrounded by love,” she writes. And she means it.
Through the Door of Life: A Jewish Journey between Genders recounts the author’s transformation from Jay Ladin (father of three, prize-winning teacher, and poet) to Joy Ladin. As Joy she’s still all of those things and yet she’s someone else entirely. On her journey she howls at the walls and tears at her own flesh with lengthening nails; she coldly contemplates suicide at the appropriate time for a life insurance claim; and she talks to God in her “gratitude bath” every night of a debilitating and unexplained illness in the middle of 2009, months after the Post headline.
–excerpted from a review by DAN FRIEDMAN at frontpsych.com