וַיִּבְרָ֨א אֱלֹהִ֤ים ׀ אֶת־הָֽאָדָם֙ בְּצַלְמ֔וֹ בְּצֶ֥לֶם אֱלֹהִ֖ים בָּרָ֣א אֹת֑וֹ זָכָ֥ר וּנְקֵבָ֖ה בָּרָ֥א אֹתָֽם׃
(27) And God created adam in Gd's own image, in the image of Gd created Gd adam; male and female created Gd them.
אָמַר רַבִּי יִרְמְיָה בָּן אֶלְעָזָר: בְּשָׁעָה שֶׁבָּרָא הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא אֶת אָדָם הָרִאשׁוֹן. אַנְדְּרוֹגִינוֹס בָּרְאוּ – פָּרָשָׁה
Said Rabbi Jeremiah ben Elazar: “When the Holy One, blessed be the One, created the first adam [human being], [God] created him [an] “androgynos.”
Midrash Rabbah 8:1
(א) ויאמר אלהים נעשה אדם בצלמנו כדמותנו. אמר רבי ירמיה בן אלעזר: בשעה שברא הקדוש ברוך הוא את אדם הראשון, אנדרוגינוס בראו, הדא הוא דכתיב: זכר ונקבה בראם. אמר רבי שמואל בר נחמן: בשעה שברא הקב"ה את אדם הראשון, דיו פרצופים בראו ונסרו ועשאו גביים, גב לכאן וגב לכאן. איתיבון ליה, והכתיב: ויקח אחת מצלעותיו?! אמר להון: מתרין סטרוהי, היך מה דאת אמר: (שמות כו): ולצלע המשכן, דמתרגמינן ולסטר משכנא וגו'.
(1) And God said: Let us make Adam in our image, in our shape: R' Yirmiyah ben Elazar said, when Hashem created Adam HaRishon, Adam was created as both genders; thus is it written, "male and female did Gd create them." R' Shmuel bar Nachman said, when Hashem created Adam HaRishon, Gd created Adam with two faces, one on each side, and [when Gd made Chavah,] Gd split him along the middle, forming two backs. They challenged him: but it is written, "And Gd took one of his ribs!" Gd said to them, ["mitzalosav" doesn't mean rib, it means] one of his sides, similar to that which is said, "and to the 'tzela' of the Mishkan," which is translated "the side of the Mishkan."
The Midrash, classical Jewish exegesis, adds that the [first human] being formed in G-d's likeness, was an androgynous, an inter-sexed, person . . . Hence, our tradition teaches that all bodies and genders are created in G-d's image, whether we identify as men, women, inter-sex, or something else.
Rabbi Elliot Kukla, Reform Devises Sex-Change Blessings
The six 'genders' of the Talmud are often used in modern times to apply to what we would now call Transgender or non-binary people and while this is helpful in some cases (especially if it brings comfort and representation to Jewish trans folk) but it's best to remember these designations are removed from modern context and what they describe is closer to what we'd call 'sex' today as they refer to physical genitals and other sex characteristics.
From this we should first state two things:
- The Talmudic designations of sex are from an ancient society completely removed from modern day gender and sex labels.
- Bearing point 1) in mind, these designations are still excellent proof that people who do not fit into the typical physical characteristics of either binary sex have existed since before the time of the Babylonian Talmud.
The 6 sexes of the Talmud:
Zachar - Male. derived from a word for a sword.
Nekeivah- Female derived from the word for a crevice.
Androgynos- borrowed from the greek (Andros + Gynos Man + Woman) refers to an Intersex person who has both 'Male' and 'Female' sex characteristics.
Tumtum - Means 'hidden' refers to someone whose sex characteristics are somehow obscured. Unlike the Androgynos a Tumtum is seen as being sometimes completely male and sometimes completely female.
Aylonit- Someone who is assigned female at birth but develops male characteristics at puberty. This is also likely an ancient intersex designation but seems to encompass many women who become infertile later in life.
Saris - Used on it's own as a term for a eunuch
- Saris Chammach - someone who is born a saris. Typically they are assigned male at birth but do not develop male characteristics at puberty. But a Saris Chammach can include someone who was either born without a penis due to a genetic condition or whose penis was damaged from infancy. This categorisation it's worth pointing out, seems to encompass multiple Intersex conditions as well as what we now know as Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.
-Saris Adam - someone who becomes a saris later in life and is rendered infertile.
Sources: http://www.sojourngsd.org/blog/sixgenders; Mishnah Bikkurim
Rabbi Arthur Green, “Radical Judaism”:
“Being or Y-H-W-H underlies and unifies all that is. ... There is no ultimate duality here, no "God and world," no "God, World, and self," Only one Being and its many faces.
When I refer to ‘God,’ I mean the inner force of existence itself, that of which one might say: ‘Being is.’ I refer to it as the ‘One’ because it is the single unifying substratum of all that is. (18, 19).
“Being is One, and each person is God’s unique image” (153).
ספר רזין דאורייתא, בשם הרבי ר' מיכל מזלאטשוב
אולם הכוונה, דנודע אשר יצחק נולד בנשמת נוקבא, וכמו שכתב בעל אור החיים הק', ועל ידי העקדה היה לו נשמת דכר להשפיע. ועל פי זה מובן למה לא נמצא באדם יותר עקרה מאשר מבבהמה, אשר בפסוק נשתוו זה לזה בברכה, לא יהיה בך ובבהמתך עקר ועקרה, רק זאת נודע סדר הגלגולים. ולפעמים נקבה תסובב גבר כי בסבת הגלגול נשמת נקבה תבוא בזכר, כאשר י'תרעם ה'גלגל ו'יתרעש ה'חוזר לבוא בגלגול שני ושלישי. ואם נקבה אשר תסובב בגבר, שני נקבות אינם מולידים, רק עח ידי מעשי הטוב מחליפין הנשמה, וליצחק החליפו הנשמה. לפיכך לו ולא לה, כי יצחק היה צריך לאותו דבר ולא רבקה:
18th Century Hasidus
It is known that when Issac was born, he was born with the soul of a female, as it is written in Or Hachaim, and through the akeidah (binding of Issac) he got a male soul that can influence (meaning, can impregnate). [With that we can understand why they more infertile humans than animals, even though that they both got the same blessing "It will not be within you and within your animals infertility".] But, this is known according to the Sod (Secret/Mysticism) of reincarnation - that at times, a female would be in a male body, because in the reasons of gilgal (reincarnation) the soul of a female would come to be in a male. ... that is why it says by Issac that Hashem (Divine) answered to him and not to her (Rebecca), because he needed divine help to be able to have kids.
Translation by Abby Stein
מוסף לראש השנה
אַתָּה זוֹכֵר מַעֲשֵׂה עוֹלָם וּפוֹקֵד כָּל יְצוּרֵי קֶדֶם. לְפָנֶיךָ נִגְלוּ כָּל תַּעֲלוּמוֹת וַהֲמוֹן נִסְתָּרוֹת שֶׁמִּבְּרֵאשִׁית. כִּי אֵין שִׁכְחָה לִפְנֵי כִסֵּא כְבוֹדֶךָ וְאֵין נִסְתָּר מִנֶּגֶד עֵינֶיךָ:
זֶה הַיּוֹם תְּחִלַּת מַעֲשֶׂיךָ, זִכָּרוֹן לְיוֹם רִאשׁוֹן. כִּי חוֹק לְיִשְׂרָאֵל הוּא מִשְׁפָּט לֵאלֹהֵי יַעֲקֹב:
Musaf, Rosh Hashanah
You remember the dealings of the world, and You consider the behavior creatures who lived in earlier times. In Your Presence are revealed all that is hidden, and the multitude of secrets from the beginning of creation; for there is no forgetfulness before the throne of Your Glory, and there is nothing hidden from Your eyes. This day [Rosh Hashana] is the beginning of Your work, a memorial to the first day.
“Were the case for gay inclusion to be made, well grounded in Jewish legal texts and employing precedent in methodologically sound ways, it would still be unable to convince rabbinic authorities to overturn the prohibition against same-sex relations. Real world solutions to human problems require much more than a change of mind. They are made possible by the rising tide of new moral awareness, by gradual changes of the heart that push against the comforts of habit and stasis.”
Rabbi Steve Greenberg, Wresting with G-d and Man: Homosexuality in the Jewish tradition. Pg 21.
Keshet (US Based Reform/Progressive Jewish LGBTQ Rights Organisation)
Eshel (US Based Orthodox Jewish LGBTQ Rights Organisation)
TransTorah (Website run by Openly Trans Reconstructionist Rabbi, Rabbi Elliot Kukla.)
International LGBTQ Resources
Rainbow Youth (LGBT Youth Org based in NZ)
OUTLine (LGBT Helpline based in NZ)
0800 688 5463
InsideOUT (LGBT Youth Org based in NZ)
Agender NZ (Trans resources for New Zealanders)
General LGBTQ+ Resources
My kid is gay. com (For parents of LGBTQ kids)
It Gets Better
The Trevor Project
An illustrated online book discussing gender, sex and trans identities.
Sexuality: One's physical and romantic attraction to others
Lesbian: A woman exclusively attracted to other women.
Gay: A man exclusively attracted to other men. Though gay has come to be used to describe any same-gender attraction it still predominantly applies to men.
Bisexual: A person who is attracted to two or more genders.
Asexual: Someone who does not experience sexual attraction to any genders.
Queer: originally a slur, now largely reclaimed and used as an umbrella term for non-cisgender/ heterosexual identities
Rainbow: Another umbrella term like queer or LGBTQ+ that refers to the Rainbow flag.
Gender: The state of being male or female (or neither). Gender is what the brain perceives the self as.
Transgender: A person whose gender differs from the gender they were assigned at birth. I.e a trans woman is a woman who was assigned male when she was born.
Cisgender: The opposite of transgender. A person whose gender is the same as the gender they were assigned at birth. i.e: A cis woman is a woman who was assigned female when she was born
Non-binary: Someone who does not identify as solely male or female. Non-binary is an umbrella term for any genders outside of the male-female binary. Non-binary people may identify as multiple genders or as being outside gender entirely.
Genderfluid: Someone whose gender identity is not fixed in place, whose gender may vary and change.
Sex: Physical sexual traits of a person including internal/external genitalia and hormone levels.
Intersex: Someone born with both male and female genitalia and sex characteristics or having ambiguous sexual characteristics due to genetic or physical traits.
Perisex: Someone whose physical sex characteristics meets the binary classification of male or female.
If you want a copy of this resource sheet find it online here at
“Who would you be, if you had never been punished for gender inappropriate behavior? What would it be like to walk down the street, go to work or attend a party and take it for granted that the gender of the people you met would not be the first thing you ascertained about them? What if we all helped each other to manifest our most beautiful, sexy, intelligent, creative, and adventurous inner selves, instead of cooperating to suppress them?”
– Patrick Califia
“In order to understand transgender expression and see and respect people as they really are, we have to break down our gender conditioning. We have to get used to (and excited about) bearded ladies… short boys with ‘dessert hands’ and big-boned gals with deep voices. We have to trash the lists. this is exciting because when we validate other people and create space for their own unique gender, we do the same for ourselves.”
– Micah Bazant