Queer in faith- a Jewish example:
Last night I had 26 people join me for shabbat dinner. Not just any Shabbat… but a Transgender Shabbat. Not that Shabbat itself was trans (perhaps we welcomed a Sabbath Husband?), but we specifically invited the transgender community and their friends to join JQ International’s Trans Inclusion Committee for a potluck and icebreaker discussion of the intersection between Judaism and gender identity.
Rabbi Julie Pelc-Adler led the group in a discussion about terms for gender diversity used in classical Jewish texts including:
Part of the discussion was about some specific Hebrew words concerned with gender issues. As my own knowledge of Hebrew us virtually non-existent, I offer this extract with no comment, except to say that I share the sense of amazement expressed by the participants:
Angrogynous: A person who has both “male” and “female” sexual characteristics. 149 references (WOW!!!!) in Mishna and Talmud (1st-8th Centuries CE); 350 in classical midrash and Jewish law codes (2nd-16th Centuries CE).
Tumtum: A person whose sexual characteristics are indeterminate or obscured. 181 references in Mishna and Talmud; 335 in classical midrash and Jewish law codes.
All of these references within the text seemed to liberate a room full of people that have been told repeatedly that their identity was an obstacle for connection and home within the Jewish religion. The very fact that multiple Jewish authority figures consider the first human creation of G-d to be one of mixed or indeterminate gender seemed to show us all that in fact, the transgender Jew might have been THE first Jew. How fantastic!!! We were each asked to then by Trans Inclusion Committee member Kadin Henningsen to share “How does the idea that you were specifically created by G-d as you are (with both male and female characteristics) make you feel?”
As we dined together we shared together. A common theme of “freedom” was tied to many of our answers – that it was liberating to think that it wasn’t an accident.
“the transgender Jew might have been THE first Jew”.
That would certainly be a new idea to me, and puts the religious right argument from one man and one woman in a completely new light. Ia anyone with knowledge of Hebrew and Jewish Scriptures able to comment?
Read the full discussion at Jewish Journal.com, OY GAY
- Conflating Gay And Trans — And More Religious Right Fear Mongering About It (pinkbananaworld.com)
- Making Sports Fair For Transgender Athletes [Gender Games] (jezebel.com)