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Aaron Devor | Profile

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Biography

Aaron Devor has been studying and teaching about transgender topics since the early 1980s. He established and holds the world’s only Chair in Transgender Studies; initiated and hosts the international, interdisciplinary Moving Trans History Forward conferences; and founded and serves as the Academic Director of the world’s largest Transgender Archive. Aaron is an author of numerous articles and five books on transgender topics. He has also been an author of versions of the World Professional Association for Transgender Health’s (WPATH) Standards of Care since 1999 and is overseeing the translation of the most recent version into world languages. Aaron has delivered lectures to audiences around the world, including more than 35 keynote and plenary addresses. He is a national-award-winning teacher, a Fellow of the Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, an elected member of the International Academy of Sex Research, and an elected Fellow of the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality. An out trans person, Aaron is a former Dean of Graduate Studies (2002-2012), and a professor of Sociology, at the University of Victoria in British Columbia, Canada. 

Devor was president of the Jewish Federation of Victoria and Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada from 2013-2016 and on the Board since 2011. He has been the Past-President since 2016. He served as a Board member of Hillel British Columbia 2007-2018. He was the Jewish member on the Greater Victoria Police Diversity Advisory Committee 2005-2010. Devor thinks that he may have been the first out trans man elected to any of these positions. 

Devor served as a President, Past-President, Vice-President, and board member of Victoria’s Conservative Congregation Emanuel 1999-2003. During his time as President and Vice-President Devor was living as a lesbian and may have been the first out lesbian to be elected as a vice-president or president of a Conservative synagogue. 

Devor and his wife used to be a lesbian couple. We were married (without kiddushin) in 1992, just days after a Conservative responsa forbidding same-sex marriage. The wedding was done by their Conservative congregational rabbi in a public ceremony in their home attended by a large number of congregants. As far as they have been able to discover (and they have consulted Rabbi Elliot Dorff, the head of the Conservative Rabbinical Assembly's Committee on Jewish Law and Standards), there was only one Conservative same-sex marriage before theirs, a gay men’s ceremony in NY the weekend just before the 1992 decision, and no other Conservative same-sex weddings again until 2006 when there was a new Conservative responsa allowing same-sex weddings.

They were married a second time, this time as a heterosexual couple with kiddushin in 2004. This marriage was conducted by a different Conservative rabbi from the same synagogue as before but this time it was in the synagogue with hundreds of people in attendance. As far as they know (but they are less sure of this), this was the first Conservative wedding involving an out trans man. They have one kettubah in two layers for these two historic weddings. It was displayed in a traveling “Families” exhibit put on by the Royal British Columbia Museum. 

Devor asks that if anyone can verify any of the above “firsts” one way or the other, please contact him.

(This biographical statement provided by Aaron Devor.  Photo: Blake Little.)

Biography Date: January 2020

Additional Resources

Here is link to video presentations by Aaron Devor:
https://onlineacademiccommunity.uvic.ca/ahdevor/video/ 

Tags

Jewish (ethnic, Reform, Reconstructionist, Orthodox) | Transgender activism | Victoria | British Columbia | Canada | Author/editor

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