Rebbe Nachman told a parable about a royal prince who one day woke up and believed he was a turkey.
As usual, Rabbenu was way ahead of his time, and gave us solid advice on how to handle a phenomena that is one of the biggest scourges for our children and our society. So, I thought it was time to update Rabbenu’s parable, a little, and to tell you the tale of the Turkey Trans.
Once upon a time, there was a fine young man, a prince in the royal palace, who spent way too much time on Tumblr, Instagram and Tiktok.
Because it wasn’t so easy being the son of a king, these days.
Everywhere he went, people accused him of having ‘white privilege’, and ‘male privilege’; his opinions were mocked and derided – because what could a spoilt, rich prince know about things that real people experienced, like loneliness and depression?
And he found it really hard to make friends, because it had happened more than once that his so-called ‘friends’ had turned around and sold exposes about him and his family to The National Enquirer.
So, for all his wealth, and all his luxury, and all his ‘elite white male’ privilege, the Prince was actually one of the loneliest and misunderstood people in the whole world.
And he hated being a prince.
One day, he stumbled across a group of Turkey Transitioners on Tumblr, and he was amazed about all the love and acceptance they were getting, as they posted up pictures of the trans journey from human to Turkey.
I am pecking this story out with my new prosthetic beak, wrote @NotForThanksgiving, and I can tell you that I have never felt happier, being a Turkey!
There were like, a gazillion comments underneath the post, cheering @NotforThanksgiving on, and praising his courage and determination to live life in accordance with who he really felt he should be: a Turkey.
The prince felt a twang of envy. And also, a strange urge to go and find some earthworms to snack on…
Hey, he started to wonder, maybe, deep down I’m also really a Turkey?!
A few days later, he made an appointment with the royal psychiatrist, who was really good friends with people like John Stryker.
How can I help you, sire? enquired the shrink, with barely disguised disdain in his eyes for this royal whiner and perfect example of selfish white privilege.
Um. The prince blinked a little, then let out a small stream of bluck, bluck, blucks. The psychiatrist instantly warmed to him. I think I’m a Turkey stuck in a human being’s body, the prince told him.
The psychiatrist beamed widely, and would have given the boy a ‘welcome to the party’ bear hug, except everything was being recorded by the camera in the corner….
That’s wonderful news! Really wonderful! Let’s get you started on some ‘humanity blockers’ immediately – and don’t worry! The effects are totally temporary! They’ll just stop your human brain from developing, and will regress your ability to speak, while you’re trying to figure things out.
But once you fully transition to a Turkey, all your problems will be over, royal highness!
You’ll be living life the way you are meant to be, as the real, Turkey-you!
Wow. The prince had never seen the shrink so friendly and accepting.
He still had some doubts, honestly, about whether being a Turkey was totally the right path, but he had to admit, the shrink’s encouragement was dispelling them like clouds on a hot summer’s day. But then, the Prince remembered something, and his face fell.
What about my dad? he whispered. The King was really not going to like this.
Leave him to me, the shrink nodded sagely. Then wrote something on his notepad, so the cameras wouldn’t catch it:
We’ll tell him that if he doesn’t let you transition to being a Turkey, you’ll kill yourself.
It works every time! he nodded at the prince, smiling.
So, the Turkey-Prince got his new prescription for ‘humanity blockers’, and proudly wrote his first post in the Turkey Transitioners group on Tumblr.
So proud of you, royal sire.
You rock, Turkey-princeling.
Welcome to the club, wrote @TurkeyTwizzler. I’m getting my feet-transformation surgery tomorrow, and I’m really excited to be living life as a free (range…) turkey.
Harry, we have a problem.
The King raised a grumpy eyebrow, and grunted for his wife Mathilda to continue. Always problems, problems, problems, and hardly ever solutions. His father had warned him that being a King was not as much fun as it was cracked up to be…
Our son, the royal prince, is sitting under the table on the patio naked, and pecking at some grubs. Mathilda flushed bright red with the shame of it all. He tells me he’s transitioning to become a turkey!
Whaaattt? King Harry roared out. That son of his had always been a nincompoop, with all his stupid ideas about abolishing the monarchy are redistributing the family’s wealth and land to the poor people. But this took the biscuit!
Get me the royal psychiatrist, right now!
The Royal Shrink arrived, bowed deeply and kissed the King’s hand.
What a creep, the King muttered to himself, conspicuously wiping his hand on a piece of ermine. If Stryker hadn’t paid him $10 million to have the guy on his staff, he would have beheaded him a long time ago.
My son thinks he’s a Turkey. What can we do to cure him of this mental illness?
The Royal Shrink bowed again. O sire, we have to be extremely careful with these young people! The best thing to do is to affirm his own feelings. If he believes he is a Turkey, then he really is a Turkey, and should be supported on his path. That’s what all the people at Harvard are saying.
The King was so stunned, it took him a moment to regain his royal composure.
And if I don’t ‘support him’ on his path, and try to beat some sense into him instead? King Harry demanded.
The shrink smiled obsequiously.
Then he will kill himself! Isn’t it better to have a live Turkey on the throne, than a dead Crown Prince?!
All day long, there was a massive argument between Mathilda and Harry, about what to do to help their son.
Mathilda had been listening in to the conversation with the Royal Shrink, and when he mentioned that her son would probably go and kill himself, if he wasn’t allowed to transition into a Turkey-Prince, her heart almost burst.
Mathilda, this is nonsense!! Harry snapped back. It doesn’t matter how many ‘human blockers’ the boy takes; how much surgery he has to sew up his mouth and give him a prosthetic beak; how many feathers he has surgically embedded in his skin – he will never be a Turkey!
Mathilda peeked out the window, to where the Crown Prince was clucking around outside and getting himself all dusty.
But Harry, he looks so much happier and calmer, now he’s come out as a Turkey, she called back over her shoulder. Maybe, he really is a Turkey soul, stuck in a human body.
Doesn’t the Zohar talk about that?
Harry hrumphed again.
Just then, there was a knock at the door.
Sire, there is a man here who says he can help your son.
There had been a steady stream of ‘experts’ arriving at the palace, since the news had exploded on Tiktok that the Crown Prince was transitioning. Most of them were now sitting in the royal dungeons.
I don’t need anyone else here recommending the best ‘Turkey feet plastic surgeon’! Harry roared out.
No, no sire, this gentleman says that he can help your son regain his mental equilibrium again…. so that he will understand that God made him a human being, and not a Turkey.
Usually, Harry didn’t go in for all the religious mumbo-jumbo. But at this point, he was desperate, and he was willing to try anything.
Ok, show him in!
How can you help my son, wise man, when all my other Harvard-trained ‘experts’ are telling me that if I don’t let him transition to live as a Turkey, he’s just going to jump on some BBQ grill somewhere?
Sire, the wise man answered. God created him a human being, and God doesn’t make mistakes. Your son just needs some love, acceptance and trauma counselling.
This also sounded like preposterous nonsense. But at least they weren’t talking about prosthetic beaks.
OK, you have permission to try, wise man. But if you don’t come up with the goods… Harry nodded down, to where the dungeons lay.
The next morning, the Crown Prince gobbled down his ‘humanity blockers’, then went back to scratching in the dirt.
He was pecking away happily, when out of the corner of his eye, he saw another man in a pair of modest boxers, also pecking around in the dirt and trilling Turkey sounds.
He watched him carefully. I haven’t seen this guy on the Turkey Transitioners group on Tumblr, the Crown Prince mused to himself. Although honestly, the more ‘humanity blockers’ he took, the harder it was getting to think , or see, straight.
For a whole day, the two just pecked in the dirt together, and made Turkey noises and exaggerated wing movements with their arms.
Finally, the Crown Prince’s curiosity got too much for him.
Who are you? he asked the stranger.
I’m a turkey-trans, he replied. Just like you.
The next day, the Crown Prince sidled up to the stranger and asked him: Are you on ‘humanity blockers’ too?
The stranger let out a loud cluck, then shook his head vigorously.
Whoever heard of a real Turkey popping prescription drugs? And besides, the side-effects are so bad, I was getting a migraine every time I was trying to chase down a bug.
The Turkey-Prince was confused. It’s true, real Turkeys didn’t take prescription medication. Only human beings would do something like that. A little later, he circled around, and came back up to the stranger.
When is your feather-enhancement surgery meant to be happening?
I’m not doing that either, answered the wise man. Since when does a real Turkey pay thousands of dollars to go under the knife?! Are you really going to trust these people? You know what ‘Thanksgiving’ is, right?
The Crown Prince shivered.
So, you’re not getting a prosthetic beak? he tried again.
Nah, waste of time. They don’t really work, they just get infected and honestly? The wise man leaned over and pulled an escaping worm out of the ground with his fingers. It’s way easier to catch lunch like this.
The Crown Prince had to admit that the other turkey had a point.
He’d been kinda surprised that no-one else in the Turkey-Trans group has been writing about how difficult this journey actually was. He’d only managed to eat three ants in the last few days – and he’d cheated to catch those – and he was dying for a hamburger.
But if he wimped-out of the transitioning process now… The Crown Prince cringed, thinking about all the bashing he’d get on social media.
From the side, the wise man was watching.
The next day, a tray of fresh hamburgers appeared in the middle of the garden, and the wise man made a beeline for them, clucking merrily.
He sat down, and started eating a juicy burger with pickles, relish, and all the fixings.
Hey! The Crown Prince screamed at him. Turkey’s don’t eat meat!!!
Sure they do, the wise man replied. You’re just making a human value judgement. Who is to say that a cow’s life is really worth more than a grub’s? Or an ant? Turkeys eat other animals all the time. You can still eat a burger, but stay a turkey…
The Crown Prince clucked closer, than hunger overtook him, and he wolfed down three burgers in half a minute.
Over the coming days, the Crown Prince realised that he could still be a Turkey and walk upright, without killing his back.
He could still be a Turkey and have deep, human conversations with other Turkey-Trans, who also felt they just didn’t ‘fit’ somehow, in the world.
And he could still be a Turkey and fight for social justice.
But, the wise old man warned him, just like real Turkeys don’t pop pills, they also don’t use social media. Did you ever see a natural-born Turkey with a TikTok account?
Now that the Crown Prince was off the ‘humanity blockers’, and had been avoiding the Turkey-Trans Activist groups on social media, he was finding it easier and easier to think straight.
You know, you’re right!
The Crown Prince picked up his iPhone, and tossed it into the royal fountain.
Son, I’m moving on, the wise man told him one day, as they were eating butter croissants with jam for breakfast in the royal gazebo, and drinking Starbucks espresso.
The Crown Prince was going to be very sad to see his Turkey-Trans friend go. Who was he going to speak to, who was he going to hang out with now?
I want you to remember something, the wise man told him. No two souls are alike. God created each of us as unique individuals, with our unique struggles and tests and abilities. We don’t have to fit into anyone else’s ideas about ‘what a Turkey’ should be.
You can still be the king one day – and be a really good Turkey. Don’t forget that.
They hugged each other goodbye, as King Harry and Queen Mathilda reappeared with a big purse of money for the wise man.
Turkeys don’t need endowments or grants from people like John Stryker or Paul Singer, the wise man said, while he winked at the Turkey-Prince.
Please use that money to set up an education foundation to teach Turkeys that they don’t need pills or dangerous and destructive surgery to live life as the ‘real them’.
And put your son here, in charge of it.
And what happened to the Royal Shrink, and all the other ‘experts’?
The King signed a royal charter that they should be ‘transitioned’ to become wolves in sheep’s clothing.
And so it was.
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