Meet the former ultra-Orthodox rabbi now living as a woman

"Everyone had told me that I was a boy, but it didn't feel right," Abby Stein said.

Story highlights

  • Abby Stein is an openly transgender woman raised in a Hasidic Jewish community
  • Stein says she wants to help other trans men and women brought up in fundamentalist religious communities

(CNN)Just five years ago, 25-year-old Abby Stein was an ultra-Orthodox rabbi named Yisrael. Today, she's an openly transgender woman. And she's ready to share her extraordinary story with the world.

Stein was born in Brooklyn and brought up in a Hasidic Jewish community, a conservative Jewish sect that shuns the modern world. The sixth child and first son in a family of 13 kids, Abby, like all the males in her community, wore the dark clothes and distinctive fur hat of her religious sect, and spoke only Yiddish.
She dutifully followed the traditional path of a young Hasidic male in her strictly gender segregated community, attending a Yeshiva in upstate New York, and becoming a rabbi. At 17, as is customary in the Hasidic community, a marriage was arranged and she became engaged. At 18, she got married. A year later, Abby's wife had a baby.
    The different faces of Abby Stein.
    Though overjoyed to be a parent, Abby says the birth of her