Taken from a Orthodox Rabbi, and written for the New York Times.
In the 1970s a cousin of mine, Paula Grossman, became one of the first people in America to undergo sex-reassignment surgery. As Paul Monroe Grossman, Cousin Paula had been a beloved music teacher in New Jersey. She was fired after her surgery, and she subsequently lost her lawsuit for wrongful termination based on sex discrimination (though a court did rule that she could receive a disability pension). The story was all over the news back then; I’d like to think it would have ended differently today.
Forty years after the Supreme Court refused to hear Paula’s appeal in 1976, the transgender story is still unfolding. This month, a transgender high school student in Virginia lost the right to use the restroom of his choice when the Supreme Court temporarily blocked a lower court’s order. Still, for the first time it is possible to imagine a ruling from a fully seated Supreme Court to comprehensively outlaw discrimination against transgender people. There is real reason to be hopeful, even if social prejudices don’t disappear overnight.
I’m a rabbi, and so I’m particularly saddened whenever religious arguments are brought in to defend social prejudices — as they often are in the discussion about transgender rights. In fact, the Hebrew Bible, when read in its original language, offers a highly elastic view of gender. And I do mean highly elastic: In Genesis 3:12, Eve is referred to as “he.” In Genesis 9:21, after the flood, Noah repairs to “her” tent. Genesis 24:16 refers to Rebecca as a “young man.” And Genesis 1:27 refers to Adam as “them.”
Surprising, I know. And there are many other, even more vivid examples: In Esther 2:7, Mordecai is pictured as nursing his niece Esther. In a similar way, in Isaiah 49:23, the future kings of Israel are prophesied to be “nursing kings.
Why would the Bible do this? These aren’t typos. In the ancient world, well-expressed gender fluidity was the mark of a civilized person. Such a person was considered more “godlike.” In Ancient Mesopotamia and Egypt, the gods were thought of as gender-fluid, and human beings were considered reflections of the gods. The Israelite ideal of the “nursing king” seems to have been based on a real person: a woman by the name of Hatshepsut who, after the death of her husband, Thutmose II, donned a false beard and ascended the throne to become one of Egypt’s greatest pharaohs.
The Israelites took the transgender trope from their surrounding cultures and wove it into their own sacred scripture. The four-Hebrew-letter name of God, which scholars refer to as the Tetragrammaton, YHWH, was probably not pronounced “Jehovah” or “Yahweh,” as some have guessed. The Israelite priests would have read the letters in reverse as Hu/Hi — in other words, the hidden name of God was Hebrew for “He/She.” Counter to everything we grew up believing, the God of Israel — the God of the three monotheistic, Abrahamic religions to which fully half the people on the planet today belong — was understood by its earliest worshipers to be a dual-gendered deity.
Scientists now tell us that gender identity, like sexual orientation, exists on a spectrum. Some of us are in greater or lesser alignment with the gender assigned to us at birth. Some of us are in alignment with both, or with neither. For others of us, alignment requires more of a process.
It may come as a surprise that scientists view gender as anything other than a simple binary. But thousands of years ago, as a review of ancient literature makes clear, that truth was known. In court challenges, administrative directives and popular culture, the issue is playing out in real time, before our eyes. But behind the unfolding legal drama lies the reality of human nature: the fact that gender is not, nor has it ever been, a matter of “either/or.”
Gender, as Cousin Paula might have put it, is more like music: Each of us has a key and a range with which we are most comfortable. Attuned to ourselves and to one another, we can find happiness and harmony.
Independientemente de el hálito transfóbico que existe detrás de este bus del miedo, que tiene como intención reafirmar una clara dictadura del binarismo genérico, existe un argumento que escapa ante tanto odio e ignorancia.
Existen personas, de hecho el 1% de la población que nacen con cromosomas, hormonas y genitales ambiguos, personas que no tienen ni vulva ni pene, o tienen ambos, o un espectro entre el uno y el otro. Personas como yo, con identidades funcionales y cuerpos que merecen ser respetados.
El argumento empieza a ser aun mas inválido cuando el género que acuden a proteger es un género completamente construido bajo paradigmas sociales.
En ningún código genético esta escrito (Tienes concha: úsese falda, sea sumisa y déjese crecer el pelo) (tienes pene, séase violento y domine al otro).
La Naturaleza es un grato reflejo de la diversidad sexual y de género, por eso es grato ver quienes son los que hacen parte del lado erróneo de la historia.
I always wanted to be my mom reflection. I had that dream of seeing in her what I wanted to be, the past was not easy and the understanding no our friend. Today I can appreciate that. What I have became… and from where I came.
In this picture we both are 29. We are sisters of a conmutable past. We both ran away, we both now live exiled.
Han sido muchos meses en lo que he caído en el silencio.
Quiero renovar mi espacio personal y componer pensamientos.
Aunque sea poco el tiempo que me da mi vida en NZ.
Quiero recuperar este tiempo de reflexión.