Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2018-11-07
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage



Trans Israeli activist Ofer Erez on making IDF history, Open House role
by Carrie Maxwell, Windy City Times

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Ofer Erez, 25, made history when he became Israel's first openly trans Israel Defense Forces ( IDF ) officer in 2013. Erez has since retired from the military and is the CEO of Jerusalem Open House ( JOH ), the city's LGBTQ community organization.

A Wider Bridge ( AWB ) awarded JOH an impact grant this summer to help fund, alongside other funders, the annual Jerusalem March for Pride and Tolerance, which was attended by 30,000 people. Erez will be bringing his story to Chicago Oct. 22 at Temple Sholom, 3480 N. Lake Shore Dr.; the event, co-sponsored by AWB and Temple Sholom, begins at 6:30 p.m.

Erez served in the IDF for six and a half years, the first three years in the behavior analysis unit and the rest serving as a General Headquarters project officer. He explained that he could not be an out trans serviceperson when he entered the military because it was not yet even an option.

"Nobody in the IDF knew what it meant to be trans," said Erez. "I was also terrified I would face transphobia and be discriminated against."

Although Erez did not disclose his status as a trans person when he was drafted, he said he did tell his immediate commanders right away because he wanted to be honest with them about who he is. They immediately accepted him.

After Erez came out to the entire company, he explained that it became apparent to him that this was something the IDF should address on a systemic level.

"I approached IDF's Gender Affairs Office and explained the necessity of this policy," said Erez. "We analyzed my personal experience, including the obstacles and challenges that I had to face, and thought about how to change the system to make the IDF more trans friendly. From those conversations, we came up with a trans inclusive policy that the IDF now uses for every trans soldier."

Erez decided to leave the military because he wanted to serve the community in a different way. He described JOH as an amazing organization.

"I saw in JOH's work so many aspects that I can relate to and be a part of," said Erez. "The JOH is not only working to build a community or to create social change, it does both of these things together. It is a space where people from many diverse communities can be together under one roof. I love that the JOH is aiming for a more inclusive, open and tolerant Jerusalem. It makes the city better not just for LGBTQ people, but for all people."

As for what the AWB Impact Grant has done for JOH, Erez said it allowed them to organize the largest-ever Jerusalem March for Pride and Tolerance, where people from all over Israel and elsewhere gathered to celebrate. Erez explained that among the attendees were secular and religious people, people of all ages, Jews, Christians and Muslims.

Erez's journey to this moment in his young life began in the northern part of Israel on a small kibbutz called Ein Dor. He later moved with his family to another kibbutz called Kfar Menahem.

A kibbutz is a small community usually located far away from the cities," said Erez. "It is like a small town, where everyone knows each other. If you are a kid, you grow up with a tight-knit group of friends. You feel like you are surrounded by a big family.

"Because I had supportive parents, I grew up feeling true to myself without having to explain it to others," said Erez. "My parents let me cut my hair and they did not make me wear girls' clothes. Coming out, to me, was not about coming out to myself, but about explaining to others how I felt. It was hard because there were no role models for trans people around me. There was no trans visibility. Not in the media. Not in my community."

Erez said he had no way of expressing himself openly until he was 16 years old and met another trans person named Eli who was dating a friend of his. After that, he was able to tell his friends privately and they were all supportive.

"The first time I actually came out publicly in front of a group was during my military service," said Erez.

When Erez is not working he likes to travel and spend time with his blind black lab dog Baloo.

In terms of what people will hear at Erez's talk Oct. 22, he said it will encompass all the facets of his life and the work he currently does at JOH.

"I never dreamed of being an activist," said Erez. "It is something that I discovered is important to me. I think that being involved and being able to impact one's community is very important. I encourage everyone who wants to make a difference to go out there in whatever way you can, to change the world."

To RSVP for this free event, visit

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


Gay News

NATIONAL Don Lemon, Kan. governor, LGBT electoral wins 2018-11-13 - Don Lemon took President Donald Trump to task for the president's thoughts about the migrant caravan traveling through Mexico, The Huffington Post reported. ...

Gay News

'TransScripts' brings lives of transgender women into the light 2018-11-13 - In the shadow of President Trump's alleged memo that seeks to define them out of existence by declaring that gender is immutable from ...

Gay News

'Unicorn Ball' Dec. 15 at The Shapiro 2018-11-13 - The 2018 Unicorn Ball—Brave Space Alliance's largest annual fundraiser—will take place Saturday, Dec. 15, at 9 p.m.-2 a.m. at The Shapiro Ballroom, 1612 ...

Gay News

Kyrsten Sinema wins key race, becomes first openly bisexual member of U.S. Senate 2018-11-12 - From The LGBTQ Victory Fund: Washington, DC — U.S. Representative Kyrsten Sinema was tonight declared the winner in the U.S. Senate race in ...

Gay News

Judge orders IDOC to thoroughly review trans-prisoner case 2018-11-09 - In a ruling that lawyers called "historic," a federal judge ordered that Illinois Department of Corrections ( IDOC ) review the case of ...

Gay News

ELECTIONS 2018 Heuerman, Reneau secure victories 2018-11-09 - Among the LGBTQ-related victories in Illinois during the Nov. 6 elections were those of Dustin Heuerman and Rob Reneau. Heuerman won his race ...

Gay News

Historic Number of LGBTQ People Elected to U.S. House 2018-11-07 - Washington, DC — Eight openly LGBTQ candidates have won their races for the U.S. House and one will head to a recount — ...

Gay News

Late gay artist's identity, politics intersect at MoCP 2018-11-07 - Several small portraits of collage artist Ralph Arnold hang at the entrance of the Museum of Contemporary Photography ( MoCP ), 600 S. ...

Gay News

Ex-Neo Nazi talks about what spurred him to change 2018-11-07 - To look into the eyes of Christian Picciolini—eyes that seem to smile in a nonthreatening and empathetic way—one would probably not believe at ...

Gay News

My boss fired me from my funeral-home job for being transgender 2018-11-07 - I was in funeral services for nearly three decades before I was fired in 2013 for being transgender. In March, a federal appeals ...


Copyright © 2018 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.








About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group produces Windy City Queercast, & publishes Windy City Times,
The Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community,
Nightspots, Out! Resource Guide, and Identity.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.