Transgender teen from East Bay on Forward 50 list

The Forward 50 — an annual list of American Jews who have displayed hard work, creativity, ingenuity and chutzpah — includes well-known names such as presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, comedian Amy Schumer and actor Jeffrey Tambor.

Tom Sosnik is also on the list. He’s the 13-year-old boy from Oakland who made headlines in March when he came out as transgender in a ceremony in front of his Jewish day school classmates.

Tom Sosnik

The Forward released the list on Nov. 8. Others on it include Sen. Dianne Feinstein, MacArthur genius grant winner Marina Rustow and  former prisoner in Cuba Alan Gross.

Of Sosnik, the Forward wrote: “During what has been a tumultuous and important year for transgender rights, Sosnik shared with the world a very Jewish and very personal coming out story, one that could perhaps serve as a model for the Jewish community at large.”

Sosnik told the Forward that he decided to come out in front of his friends and teachers at Tehiyah Day School in El Cerrito after reading about Leelah Alcorn, a transgender teen who committed suicide in 2014 after her family and friends refused to accept her.

At the ceremony at Tehiyah, as reported by J. on March 24 (www.jweekly.com/article/full/74231), Sosnik said: “I am no longer Mia. I never really was. And now I finally stand before you in my true and authentic gender identity as Tom. I stand before you as a 13-year-old boy.”

For the full Forward 50, which also includes racehorse American Pharoah, whose owner is Jewish, visit www.forward.com.