Ezra Furman performs in London, England, August 14, 2019. (Photo /JTA-Robin Little-Redferns)
Ezra Furman performs in London, England, August 14, 2019. (Photo /JTA-Robin Little-Redferns)

Oakland’s own Ezra Furman announces she’s a trans woman — and a mom!

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This piece first appeared on Kveller and was distributed by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

Jewish indie rocker Ezra Furman is a trans woman — and has been a mom for years — she revealed this month.

In an Instagram post the 34-year-old Oakland-based musician briefly explained her journey, her experience of motherhood and why she’s sharing her story.

“I wanted to share with everyone that I am a trans woman, and also that I am a mom and have been for a while now (like 2+ years),” Furman wrote. “About being a trans woman: for my own reasons I have been hesitant to use these words, especially the ‘woman’ word.

“I have often described myself as non-binary, which maybe is still true (I’m just gonna sit with that question for the moment),” she continued. “But I’ve come to terms with the fact that I am a woman, and yes for me it’s complex, but it’s complex to be any sort of woman. I am very proud to be a trans woman and to have come to know it and be able to say it. This has not been an easy journey.”

Furman — who provided much of the soundtrack for the Netflix hit “Sex Education,” and has directly addressed her Jewish identity in her songs over the course of five albums — next touched on the subject of motherhood.

“About being a mom: there’s enough said in public about the magic of parenthood,” she wrote. “It is beautiful and holy and I love it — that’s all on that subject. I have not yet mentioned in public that I’m a parent because I have been afraid of being judged and grilled about it as if it’s anyone’s business other than mine and my family’s.

“But. I’m telling you I’m a mom now for a specific reason. Because one problem with being trans is that we have so few visions of what it can look like to have an adult life, to grow up and be happy and not die young. When our baby was born I had approximately zero examples that I had seen of trans women raising children.”

Furman was the lead singer and guitarist of Ezra Furman and the Harpoons, a four-piece rock band that was active between 2006 and 2011. Since then, she has recorded several albums, including Transangelic Exodus in 2018, in addition to her work on the “Sex Education” soundtrack.

Furman, who attended a Jewish day school in her hometown of Evanston, Illinois, has performed in tzitzit and is known to talk Jewish philosophy at live shows.

“At the end of the concert,” noted a 2020 article for Alma, “Furman put down her guitar and talked about a biblical idea that was on her mind. She talked about how Judaism teaches that people were made in the image of God, and that the way to get closer to divine power is to be vulnerable and full of love for the people around you.”

In recent years, Furman has been exploring her Jewish identity, becoming more observant and attending an Orthodox synagogue when she’s at home in Oakland. In 2016, Furman told JTA that she observes Shabbat and reads the weekly Torah portion while on tour. What’s more, she doesn’t play shows on Friday nights or travel on Saturdays.

“I like being known as Jewish and I like being known as queer because I like to be an example to show this is possible,” she told JTA. “I like to say this is a way to be Jewish, and this is a way to play rock and roll that you might not have expected.”

Her post on Instagram has received an outpouring of support.

One example: “I have been listening to ur music for a while now, and I have and still will always look up to u, I am non binary myself but I sympathize with feeling like the answer is so complex. I rlly want to be a parent when I’m older, I wanna have a family and an adult life, and seeing this means so much to me, and it makes me feel like the life I want is possible, you are valid as who u are, thank you so much.”

Lisa Keys

JTA contributor