Abstract

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.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1565-5288
Print ISSN
0793-8934
Pages
pp. 81-107
Launched on MUSE
2016-03-13
Open Access
No
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