Abstract

Jewish communities have always had children with intersex conditions, which involve atypical anatomic, chromosomal, or gonadal sex. In the last several decades, Orthodox rabbis have issued ad hoc rulings to assign sex to children and adults with intersex conditions. However, rabbinic texts reflect disunity over whether to assign gender, for the purposes of Jewish law, according to outward appearance or chromosomal makeup. This rabbinic controversy has been exacerbated by an increasingly complicated medical picture. Endocrinologists have diagnosed more than two dozen intersex conditions, across nine overarching congenital types. Such complexity makes it difficult for rabbis to make across-the-board decisions about gender assignment. This essay examines how rabbinic law may change because gender cannot be assigned consistently by chromosomal sex—despite the prevalence of this formulaic criterion in rabbinic opinions. Consequently, Jewish legal reasoning is poised to shift from a static reliance on chromosomal sex. The essay also considers the implications of this trajectory on Jewish law towards sex change surgery and transsexuals.

pdf

Additional Information

ISSN
1534-5165
Print ISSN
0882-8539
Pages
pp. 126-148
Launched on MUSE
2012-09-13
Open Access
No
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.