At the age of 70, Dorit – a father of five and grandfather of 12 – decided to fulfil her dream and embark on the process of gender reassignment. Four years later, at the age of 74, Dorit celebrates International Women’s Day, declaring: “I have never been happier.” This is the story of the oldest transgender woman in the Middle East:
“I grew up in the United States. By the age of 19 I was already unhappy that I was imprisoned in the wrong body. It was the turbulent 1960s, and although there was a Woodstock atmosphere outside, when I first shared my story at university, people claimed it was a mental disorder and I was hospitalised in a psychiatric institution. I realised that in order to live, I had to be silent.
“I fled to a commune in Vermont where I met a woman ten years older than me. I revealed to her my secret and she loved me unconditionally. She was open-minded and for her it was fun to dress me in her clothes.
“All this time, I was looking for a cure for my mental illness, a divine reason why I was born that way and a meaning to life. And so we emigrated to the Holy Land, Israel.
“We moved to the wonderful north, my wife and I built a glorious family and the years passed. I was a respectable man with a good family and a loving wife. But no one other than my wife knew what I was going through underneath the surface.
“Then the world changed. Suddenly transgender people were exposed and I felt I was not alone. There is no longer this label of being mentally ill and there is an understanding and acceptance for people like us that I had never dreamed I would get to see in my life. I felt there were no more excuses. The kids grew up, grandchildren were born, my wife got Alzheimers, so how much longer can I keep quiet and live in hiding? It’s my time, now it’s my turn to live.
“When I entered the eighth decade of my life, I decided that this was the gift I was giving myself and opened a new chapter in my life. The medical committee said the approvals take about two years, I laughed. I immediately asked to start and speed up the whole procedure. I do not have time to waste, I explained, life is short, that’s it. They took into account my age and my situation in particular and quickly, I went through the surgical procedure of gender adjustment. From now on, there is no way back, I am a woman and I am very happy to undergo the treatment and follow-up today with Dr. Iris Yaish, director of the Gender Adjustment Center here in Ichilov Medical Centre.
“When I told the kids, one of my daughters made an “out of the closet” party just for me. It was weird and funny but so exciting. Except for one relative, who is still having a hard time and not talking to me, all the rest of the family and friends, accept me with love.
“My wife, her carer and myself moved to Tel Aviv and started a new life. At the country club where I train, I am considered the most attractive senior of Zumba classes. They do not know my history at all. So hey, yeah, it’s me.
“For 70 years I dreamed of being a woman. I am very excited to expose myself here for the first time to all the people of Israel and am aware that this is a kind of historical moment as people tell me here in Ichilov, that I am the oldest patient who has undergone this life-saving process. The fact that a public hospital chooses to publish on this day precisely my story on International Women’s Day, just shows how the world has changed and believe me, what a wonderful world it is.”