Mycroft Masada is a nonbinary trans and queer Jewish leader with 30 years of experience who moved to Gaithersburg, Maryland (Montgomery County near Washington DC) from their lifelong home of Boston in 2014. A TransEpiscopal Steering Committee member and former Congregation Am Tikva board member, Mycroft is particularly called to pursue LGBTQ+ and fat justice, and is an advocate, organizer, consultant, educator, trainer, writer and artist. They are married to Julia McCrossin, the mas(s)culine fatshion blogger, and with her they co-parent a dogter. Their central online home is

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Saturday, November 21, 2015

Congregation Beit Tikvah's LGBTQ film festival

The flyer for tonight’s event, which also lives at

Tonight was part one of a planned three-part LGBTQ  film festival by and at Congregation Beit Tikvah, and I was one the of the panelists.  The fest is free, including  refreshments, and is co-sponsored by Interfaith 
Fairness Coalition of Maryland, JQ Baltimore and The Faith Communities of Baltimore with PRIDE.  The 
other two nights are scheduled for December and 

Nu, why is this night different from all other nights?  It isthe most trans-themed, with the films being the 
documentaries “Becoming Ayden” and “Devout”, and my fellow panelists being Tyler Vile, Beth Feigin 
Bugnaski, and Rabbi Gila Colman Ruskin; we were 
moderated by CBT’s Rabbi Larry Pinsker.

This was my first visit to and connection with CBT.  I  know their member William Palmer through his work asVice President of IFCMD, Rabbi Ruskin since meeting her at JQ Baltimore’s Pesach (Passover) seder last March, and I knew of Tyler; Beth and Gila are parents of queer young adults.  I had heard about both films but hadn’t seen either until after I accepted the invitation to be on the panel -- “Becoming Ayden” is not 
available for free, but I researched it otherwise; “Devout” I watched for free on YouTube today.

“Becoming Ayden” is actually very problematic – primary subject Ayden Scheim and his friends make the 
best of the bad situation (which unfortunately can’t be said of all of the subjects, including some of the other  trans ones), but the film is probably most useful as an example of how not to make films about trans people.  While it wasn’t a good choice for the festival, at least not without a lot of framing, it did trigger a discussion 
that badly needed to be had, especially about where Beit Tivkah is and is going, in terms of trans issues and a number of other things.  Interestingly, this is similar to what happened when the film was originally aired – 
as explained here by Ayden’s friend and fellow film subject Evan Smith, and tonight by Rabbi Pinsker, who moved here from Canada recently.  Too, things have improved greatly for Ayden over the decade since the 
film’s release.

“Devout” is a much better film in many ways, and needs much less introduction, but it does have some of the typical faults of films and other works that are primarily about ‘homosexuality’ but include a trans story; too, 
the film gives little if any sense that bisexuality, queerness, etc. exist.  But for the most part it does what it 
says on its tin:  “Devout is a 37-minute documentary film that follows the lives of seven women in New York and New Jersey who are trying to reconcile their alternative sexuality with their commitment to Orthodox      Judaism. Their faith has always condemned homosexuality in the harshest terms. Find out how Chani, Pam,  Elissa, Hayley, Lina and "Miriam" have dealt with being "unacceptable" while still remaining devoted to their  strict faith and community.”

Tonight was definitely a long, strange schlep in at least a few ways, but I think it turned out to be worthwhile  for all involved in different ways; and I hope that CBT will continue the conversation and move forward.