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Tahera Ahmad: Flying While Muslim and Trans Poet Joy Ladin
June 04, 2015
Summary: Why a mid-flight Diet Coke has turned into a national conversation on Islamophobia. And before Caitlyn Jenner, there was Joy Ladin, the first openly trans professor at an Orthodox Jewish university.
Tahera Ahmad | Northwestern University McSA
Islamophobia in the Skies June 04, 2015
It started with a Facebook post about a Diet Coke. On May 29, a Muslim woman who wears the hijab posted this on her Facebook page: "I am sitting on a United Airlines flight in the air 30,000 feet above and I am in tears of humiliation." She had asked the flight attendant for an unopened can of soda, and was told no, her soda could be used "as a weapon." The story has exploded online, with reaction from eye rolls to outrage, and the flight attendant has been fired. A panel of Muslim and Sikh civil rights advocates who have faced their own problems at airports explain why this story struck such a nerve.

Hoda Hawa, Director of Policy and Advocacy at Muslim Public Affairs Council
Riham Osman, Communications Coordinator for the Muslim Public Affairs Council
Rajdeep Singh, Senior Director of Law and Policy at the Sikh Coalition

Joy Ladin, Finding Her True Self June 04, 2015
Before Caitlyn Jenner, there was Joy Ladin. Joy is the first openly transgender professor at an Orthodox Jewish university, and Maureen’s 2009 conversation with her remains one of our most memorable. Back in 2007, when the tenured English professor informed Yeshiva University that she would be transitioning her gender, the school first responded by putting her on indefinite leave. Hers is a story of a poet, a Jew, and above all, a woman—in her own words, "caught in the act of becoming."

Joy Ladin, English professor at Yeshiva University and author of Through the Door of Life: A Jewish Journey between Genders

A poem from her newest book of poetry, Impersonation:

Somewhat After Puberty

Novice knitter, knit with us.  
Your odyssey of transformation
deserves sashes and broaches, extra needles, florals and coral strands.

How many years has it taken?
Wiggle the steering wheel, shift the transmission,
beg and borrow whatever you need
to finally take possession
of your first-person pronouns.
The divorce is finally over.
It's time to feel forgiven
for the unsightliness of adolescing
somewhat after puberty,

for the pain your ex and children feel
watching your long-dammed water flow
from soil into blossom.  

Soul and body have begun to knit, to kiss.
Novice knitter, bride-to-be –
Step into the goddess.