The Transitioning of Jewish Biomedical Law: Rhetorical and Practical Shifts in Halakhic Discourse on Sex-Change Surgery
- Nashim: A Journal of Jewish Women's Studies & Gender Issues
- Indiana University Press
- Number 29, Spring 5776/2015
- pp. 81-107
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- Additional Information
This article examines discourse dynamics in Jewish law on sex-change surgery (SCS) and, in general, transitioning between genders. Orthodox medical ethics has moved beyond the abstract condemnation of SCS to the design of practical rules for transsexuals living in observant communities. The reasoning against SCS has also shifted, both in complexity and with implicit ties to Christian and secular tropes. By medicalizing or, conversely, spiritualizing the experiences of transgendered persons, a few Orthodox authors are opening up interpretive space for sympathetic responses to SCS. Such transitions reach their most elaborate expression in Israeli Orthodox rabbi Edan ben Ephraim’s 2004 monograph, Generation of Perversions, which has taken center stage in Orthodox deliberations on transsexuality. Overall, halakhic discourse seems to be moving in innovative, unavoidably interdiscursive directions.