Over the years, I discovered that in Judaism there are actually more than two genders. In the Talmud there is male, female, androgenic and also Tumtum, the real essence of someone whose gender was covered by skin until they were like 16 or 17 and then it was revealed.
When you say tumtum in the sense of the Talmud, it means that you are in between phases. I was amazed because it‘s so beautiful. This made me feel a little bit more connected to Judaism, not the religion itself, but more about the texts and the idea that it was always there. But in Hebrew, tumtum means silly.
I am very connected to my family. So for me there is my real Mischpoche, which is my parents and my sister and my brother. And the other one that I created myself, which is my partner, my dog and my alternative Mischpoche, the queer Mischpoche. I like that from the moment you say Mischpoche, it feels already positive.
My identity is something between investigating the idea of being a wandering outsider, and a connection to my gender identity that’s different from the mainstream narrative in the trans community. I don’t feel that I‘m transitioning from a male body to a female body. I don‘t think it‘s black and white. The beauty in my journey, which I guess will be until the end of my life, is the beauty of searching and experimenting and trying to understand who I am because the body is a vessel and the soul has no gender. The energy of this transition is somehow connected to the energy that I feel here in Germany being a Jew. Nobody will tell you something about being Jewish. But I know it‘s there. I know that it‘s still an issue.
For many years I was afraid to deal with the idea of the wandering Jew. Every place I go, I am always looking for a community and home, but at the same time, I never feel that I belong and I feel like an outsider. I don’t think it’s just because of being a trans person, it’s just the way I am because I’m a little bit different and I think different. But this paradox between always looking for home and community on the one side and not finding it on the other side is essential in the Jewish perspective in Europe. And when I moved to Europe I found out that this is part of Jewish history.
I don't think this idea of owning a country where everyone should be Jews is an important part of being Jewish today. I think that part of being Jewish is the idea that I'm redefining, rethinking my Jewishness every day because of the history, because who I am without being religious. In Germany you cannot say that you are Jewish without bringing up issues, because it's part of the common history.
Roey Victoria Heifetz lives and works in Berlin. Heifetz has exhibited in numerous international groups and solo exhibitions around the world, including solo exhibitions: ‘The Teacher’s Nap,’ Künstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin; ‘Victoria,’ The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, and ‘Third Body,’ an Ann and Ari Rosenblatt Prize-winning exhibition in Tel Aviv and the Venice Biennale (Israel Pavilion 2019). As Roey Victoria self-identifies as a transgender woman, she uses images of strong and older women to expose the painful discrepancy between social expectations and the physical reality of changing and growing old as a woman. At the same time, her work allows her to imagine her own future as she moves closer to her female body. This is expressed in large-format drawings that explore the long psychological and emotional journey, and the implications of this momentous change of transitioning from a man to a woman.