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Through the Door of Life
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Professor Jay Ladin made headlines around the world when, after years of teaching literature at Yeshiva University, he returned to the Orthodox Jewish campus as a woman—Joy Ladin. In Through the Door of Life, Joy Ladin takes readers inside her transition as she changed genders and, in the process, created a new self.
    With unsparing honesty and surprising humor, Ladin wrestles with both the practical problems of gender transition and the larger moral, spiritual, and philosophical questions that arise. Ladin recounts her struggle to reconcile the pain of her experience living as the “wrong” gender with the pain of her children in losing the father they love. We eavesdrop on her lifelong conversations with the God whom she sees both as the source of her agony and as her hope for transcending it. We look over her shoulder as she learns to walk and talk as a woman after forty-plus years of walking and talking as a man. We stare with her into the mirror as she asks herself how the new self she is creating will ever become real.
    Ladin’s poignant memoir takes us from the death of living as the man she knew she wasn’t, to the shattering of family and career that accompanied her transition, to the new self, relationships, and love she finds when she opens the door of life.

“Wrenching—and liberating. . . .[it] opens up new ways of looking at gender and the place of LGBT Jews in community.”—Greater Phoenix Jewish News

“Given her high-profile academic position, Ladin’s transition was a major news story in Israel and even internationally. But behind the public story was a private struggle and learning experience, and Ladin pulls no punches in telling that story. She offers a peek into how daunting it was to learn, with little support from others, how to dress as a middle-aged woman, to mu on make-up, to walk and talk like a female. She provides a front-row seat for observing how one person confronted a seemingly impossible situation and how she triumphed, however shakingly, over the many adversities, both societal and psychological, that stood in the way.”—The Gay and Lesbian Review Worldwide

Table of Contents

  1. Cover
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  1. Title Page, Copyright Page
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  1. Contents
  2. pp. vii-viii
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  1. Acknowledgments
  2. pp. ix-x
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  1. A Blessing - Spring 2007
  2. pp. 3-5
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  1. 1. Introduction: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Stern College - September 2008
  2. pp. 7-18
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  1. Part One: Who Will Be
  2. pp. 19-96
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  1. 1. Things Fall Apart - Summer 2005
  2. pp. 21-35
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  1. 2. Being a Man - Fall 2006
  2. pp. 36-43
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  1. 3. Girl in a Bag - Winter 2007
  2. pp. 44-54
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  1. 4. In the Image - Spring 2007
  2. pp. 55-61
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  1. 5. Suicide - Spring 2007
  2. pp. 62-74
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  1. 6. Truth - Spring 2007
  2. pp. 75-80
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  1. 7. Choosing Life - June 26, 2007
  2. pp. 81-96
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  1. Part Two: Adolescence
  2. pp. 97-152
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  1. 8. Adolescence - Summer 2007
  2. pp. 99-114
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  1. 9. Mothering - Summer 2007
  2. pp. 115-123
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  1. 10. Like a Natural Woman - July 2007
  2. pp. 124-131
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  1. 11. Anger - Summer 2007
  2. pp. 132-152
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  1. Part Three: The Door of Life
  2. p. 153
  1. 12. The Day My Father Died - October 2, 2007
  2. pp. 155-164
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  1. 13. The God Thing - Fall 2007
  2. pp. 165-186
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  1. 14. The Voice of the Future - Summer 2008
  2. pp. 187-202
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  1. 15. Two Trips to the Wailing Wall - March 2002 and October 2008
  2. pp. 203-213
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  1. 16. Teaching Naked - Spring 2010
  2. pp. 214-224
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  1. 17. The Door of Life - March 2010
  2. pp. 225-243
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  1. 18. Try - May 2010
  2. pp. 244-255
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  1. Further Reading, Back Cover
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