Gender and tahara

Society is presently coming to terms with the idea that not every person identifies with traditional male or female gender. Expression of this may take the form of aligning one’s pronouns with their gender identity, dressing in a manner that is culturally affirming their gender identity (which may differ from the one to which one was assigned at birth) or, in some cases, undergoing gender-affirming surgery.

As a community chevra, Chevra Kavod haMet seeks to honor all those for whom we provide services. As such, the leadership has developed a policy and practice for providing tahara to individuals who are non-cisgender.

In response, Chevra Kavod Hamet will make every effort to provide tahara services, including the gender of the shroud and gendering of prayer, according to the wishes and preferences of the deceased, if known. In the case of someone who identified as male, they will have a male team. In the case of someone who identified as female, they will have a female team. If someone was non-binary or gender fluid, if the wishes of the deceased are not know, they will have a mixed gender team. Further questions may be addressed to chevra leadership here.

We strongly encourage trans and gender non-binary individuals to appoint a person who will make decisions regarding their final disposition in order to preserve their gender identity and make their wishes regarding tahara and burial known to that person and/or their next of kin. They should also have a notarized document expressing their wishes. [Link to Appointment of Person Regarding Disposition of Remains]

In order to share common meaning, we have created a small glossary of some relevant terms:

Gender: the state of being male or female – typically used with reference to social and cultural differences rather than biological ones.

Sex: either of the two main categories (male and female) into which humans and many other living things are divided on the basis of their reproductive functions.

Cisgender: denoting or relating to a person whose sense of personal identity and gender corresponds with the gender to which they were assigned at birth.

Transgender: denoting or relating to a person whose sense of personal identity and gender does not correspond with the gender to which they were assigned at birth.

Gender binary: the classification of gender into two distinct and disconnected forms of masculine and feminine. Gender binary is one general type of a gender system.

Non-binary: also known as gender fluid, a category for gender identities that are not exclusively masculine or feminine‍, or do not identify with the gender binary system.

Gender pronouns: are linguistic tools that we use to refer to people.  (i.e. they/them/theirs, she/her/hers, he/him/his). We believe that it is important to give people the opportunity to state the pronoun that is correct to use when referring to them. Click here to learn more.