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Torah Views on Transgenderism

Source Sheet by Tzvi Sinensky
More info מידע נוסף
Created February 20, 2017 · 1522 Views · נוצר 20 February, 2017 · 1522 צפיות ·
  1. In a heated panel discussion Thursday on the HLN television show “Dr. Drew On Call,” Shapiro said, “Why are we mainstreaming delusion?” And later: “The entire discussion is whether we are embracing mental illness and delusion as a society.”

    Shapiro insisted on referring to the Olympic athlete and reality TV star Caitlyn Jenner, who recently came out as transgender, by male pronouns. He did the same with Zoey Tur, a transgender journalist on the panel with Shapiro. Tur warned Shapiro to stop or “go home in an ambulance.”

     

    The Internet has since been abuzz with commentary, much of it angrily critical of Shapiro. On Friday, Tur agreed with a Twitter user who said he would pay to see her “curb stomp” Shapiro. The tweets have since been deleted.

  2. Letter to the Commentator, Yeshiva University's Student Newspaper

     

    As a proud alumnus, musmach, and past Kollel Elyon Fellow at Yeshiva University, I was deeply disturbed by Mr. Ben Shapiro’s recent talk at Yeshiva University, which I viewed afterward on YouTube.

     

    It should go without saying that Mr. Shapiro’s vengeful mocking of transgenders has no place in halakhic Judaism. That such venom received applause at a Makom Torah was distressing. And the fact that Shapiro is an Orthodox Jew makes the spectacle all the more unsightly.

     

    Of course, such debased political commentary is merely a mirror of America’s current political climate. And for Shapiro, this is just business as usual. But as Bnei and Bnot Torah, we can do better. One need not be a first-rate Torah scholar to know that revenge and ona’at devarim (verbal abuse) are biblically proscribed, and that vulgarity has no place in our tradition and community. The impression that large numbers of Yeshiva University students endorse such crass behavior is a first-rate Chilul Hashem.

     

    Equally distressing were Shapiro’s opening remarks concerning Torah Judaism. In the course of approximately two minutes dedicated to demonstrating Judaism’s unambiguous support for the conservative political agenda, Shapiro made a series of wildly unsubstantiated assertions.

     

    Strangely, he twice mistakenly described Rav Soloveitchik as “the founder of YU.” Although this point was not essential to Shapiro’s larger argument, it did offer something of a taste of what was to come. A citation of Rav Soloveitchik regarding abortion was taken out of context and given no (needed) discussion. The claim that the institutions of terumah and ma’aser prove that the Torah supports a flat tax is indefensible: in halakha, the government is empowered to levy a tax above and beyond the tithes, which support not the state but religious functionaries.

     

    Shapiro’s insistence that “Socialism rejects three of the Ten Commandments outright: belief in God, rejection of theft, and rejection of coveting your neighbor’s property” is mere propaganda, the sort of ugly rhetoric that riles up the base without bothering to pay attention to the facts. And the assertion that “Torah Judaism does not support social justice” is so vague as to be utterly useless.

     

    In short, verbal abuse of one’s political adversaries, gross misrepresentations of Torah ideas and simplistic analyses of complex political problems have no place at any institution of higher Jewish learning, much less Yeshiva University. That significant numbers of Yeshiva students might harbor sympathy for such underhanded, churlish tactics implies an assimilation to the basest elements of our political culture.

     

    In today’s world, civil disagreement has been all but sidelined by provocateurs on both ends of the political spectrum. “Thought leaders” prey on the public’s preference for pat answers over complex solutions, and they ride the social-media-driven culture of political commentary as entertainment. As Torah-committed, university-educated Jews - in short, as a Torah Umada community - we cannot be ensnared by these troubling trends. Quite the opposite: we must model a political conversation that is principled yet humane, passionately argued while, in the spirit of elu ve’elu divrei Elokim chayim, recognizing the possibility of multiple legitimate conclusions. Frankly, it is not only society at large that stands to benefit from this sort of discourse. As a deeply fractured group, Modern Orthodoxy is in desperate need of precisely this sort of mature community conversation.

     

    Offering a platform for, and especially applauding, Ben Shapiro sends the wrong messages. Instead, I would urge student groups at YU to craft and publicize programs that explore today’s controversies in ways that cast light, not darkness. Those would be events I would celebrate as a proud alumnus of YU.

     

    (Rabbi) Tzvi Sinensky

    Rosh Beit Midrash, Kohelet Yeshiva

    Lower Merion, PA

  3. Merriam Webster

    Transgenderism: of, relating to, or being a person whose gender identity differs from the sex the person had or was identified as having at birth; especially : of, relating to, or being a person whose gender identity is opposite the sex the person had or was identified as having at birth :

  4. Transgender people face alarmingly high risk of suicide

    , USA Today Published 12:11 p.m. ET Aug. 16, 2015 | Updated 6:59 p.m. ET Aug. 16, 2015

    Suicide attempts are alarmingly common among transgender individuals such as Lampe; 41% try to kill themselves at some point in their lives, compared with 4.6% of the general public. The numbers come from a study by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and the Williams Institute, which analyzed results from the National Transgender Discrimination Survey. Researchers are preparing to launch another version of the online survey on Wednesday.

    More than a dozen other surveys of transgender people worldwide since 2001 have found similarly high rates, and the problem has grown more visible since Caitlyn Jenner's coming out raised awareness about transgender health issues overall.

  5. Huffington Post

    THE BLOG

    11/14/2015 04:16 pm ET | Updated Nov 14, 2016
     

    The Truth About Transgender Suicide

     

    For this year’s transgender awareness week I wanted to write about something that the transgender community and its allies are often afraid to discuss. Those who want to drive transgender people into the closet, legislate against us, and stigmatize us, talk about all the time in order further marginalize us. It is literally a matter of life and death.

     

    It is suicide.

     

    People know that transgender people are at a higher risk of suicide, but why this risk is higher is often not understood by the public, or misused by people who wish us further harm. The statistic that 40% of transgender people have attempted suicide is used all the time to justify all sorts of things that have absolutely zero basis in science.

     

    Why transgender people are at risk is something that has actually been studied in great detail by psychologists and sociologists. They have found many of the same factors increase risk across multiple peer reviewed studies.

     

    Rejection by friends and family increases suicide risk

    Transgender people who are rejected by their families or lack social support are much more likely to both consider suicide, and to attempt it. Conversely, those with strong support were 82% less likely to attempt suicide than those without support, according to one recent study. Another study showed that transgender youth whose parents reject their gender identity are 13 times more likely to attempt suicide than transgender youth who are supported by their parents.

     

    Discrimination increases suicide risk

    Transgender people in states without LGBT legal protections are at higher risk of suicide. Other studies have found that transgender people who have been discriminated against are at a higher risk of suicide. What makes this worse is that discrimination against transgender people in health care, employment, accommodations, and housing is very common. Even in places with legal protections for transgender people, like Washington D.C., cultural bias and discrimination remains.

     

    Physical abuse increases suicide risk

    Transgender people who have been physically or sexually abused because they are transgender are at a higher risk of suicide. As the number of abusive incidents increases, the more likely the person is to have attempted suicide. The amount of abuse is also associated with the number of time suicide has been attempted. Again, studies on how often transgender people are assaulted show shockingly high levels of violence.

     

    Being seen as transgender or gender non-conforming increases suicide risk

    People who are seen as transgender or gender non-conforming are more likely to have attempted suicide. Also, people who have had access to surgery which allows them to “pass,” such as facial feminization surgery, report qualities of life not significantly different from the general population. This is perhaps the most damning study, since it strongly suggests that when transgender people are treated the same as cisgender (non-transgender) people, the risk of suicide becomes no different than for anyone else.

     

    Internalized transphobia increases suicide risk

    Internalized transphobia is when a transgender individual applies negative messages about transgender people in general to themselves. It’s not hard to find such messages in our culture, especially since a multi-million dollar smear campaign in Houston successfully convinced an uninformed populace that transgender people should be treated like rapists and pedophiles. When transgender people start applying such messages to themselves, the suicide attempt rate skyrockets.

  6. יומא פ״ה ב:ג׳

    ר' שמעון בן מנסיא אומר (שמות לא, טז) ושמרו בני ישראל את השבת אמרה תורה חלל עליו שבת אחת כדי שישמור שבתות הרבה א"ר יהודה אמר שמואל אי הואי התם הוה אמינא דידי עדיפא מדידהו (ויקרא יח, ה) וחי בהם ולא שימות בהם

    Rabbi Shimon ben Menasya said: It is stated: “And the children of Israel shall keep Shabbat, to observe Shabbat” (Exodus 31:16).The Torah said: Desecrate one Shabbat on his behalf so he will observe many Shabbatot. Rav Yehuda said that Shmuel said: If I would have been there among those Sages who debated this question, I would have said that my proof is preferable to theirs, as it states: “You shall keep My statutes and My ordinances, which a person shall do and live by them” (Leviticus 18:5), and not that he should die by them. In all circumstances, one must take care not to die as a result of fulfilling the mitzvot.

  7. (כז) וַיִּבְרָ֨א אֱלֹקִ֤ים ׀ אֶת־הָֽאָדָם֙ בְּצַלְמ֔וֹ בְּצֶ֥לֶם אֱלֹקִ֖ים בָּרָ֣א אֹת֑וֹ זָכָ֥ר וּנְקֵבָ֖ה בָּרָ֥א אֹתָֽם׃

    (27) And God created man in His image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.

  8. 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'.

    Said R’ Yirmiyah ben Elazar: In the hour when the Holy One created the first human, He created him [as] an androgyne/androginos, as it is said, “male and female He created them”. Said R’ Shmuel bar Nachmani: In the hour when the Holy One created the first human, He created [for] him a double-face/di-prosopon/ du-par’tsufin, and sawed him and made him backs, a back here and a back [t]here, as it is said, “Back/achor and before/qedem You formed me” [Ps 139:5]. They objected to him: But it says, “He took one of his ribs/ts’la`ot . . . ” [Gn 2:21]! He said to them: [It means] “[one] of his sides/sit’rohi”, just as you would say, “And for the side/tsela` of the Tabernacle/ mishkan” [Ex 26:20], which they translate [in Aramaic] “for the side/seter”.

  9. ברכות ס״א א:ו׳-ז׳

    (בראשית ב, כב) ויבן ה' אלקים את הצלע רב ושמואל חד אמר פרצוף וחד אמר זנב

    It is stated: “And the tzela which the Lord, God, had taken from the man, He made a woman, and brought her unto the man” (Genesis 2:22). Rav and Shmuel disagree over the meaning of the word tzela: One said: It means face. Eve was originally one face or side of Adam. And one said: It means tail, which he explains to mean that the tzela was an appendage, i.e., one of the ribs in Adam’s chest.

  10. והזמן היה מכלה אותו לולא החכמה האלוהית אשר עשתה לו תחבולה מיחדת בבראה אותו זכר ונקבה למען ישאר המין בקימו גם כאשר יאבדו אישי המין אולם כל אלה מתהוים על ידי סבוב הגלגל ועל ידי זריחת השמש ושקיעתה כמו שנרמז לפנינו בספר זה אגב מעיר המחבר כי אין הפרש בין תבנית גוף הנקבה לתבנית גוף הזכר כי אם בהיות אברים אחדים משלהם נגלים בזה ונסתרים בזו וכבר באר דבר זה בחכמת הנתוח כי אברי הנקבה הם הם אברי הזכר אך מהפכים לצד פנים

    Time would have destroyed them, had not Providence instituted the masculine and feminine principles in order to preserve the species, in spite of the decay of the individual. This is a consequence of the revolution of the sphere as well as of the rising and setting [of the heavenly bodies]. The book calls attention to this circumstance, and says that there is no physical difference between woman and man except certain external and internal organs. Anatomy teaches that the female genitals are but the inverted male ones.

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  12. Sources on whether the surgery is permissible: 

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  14. (כד) וּמָע֤וּךְ וְכָתוּת֙ וְנָת֣וּק וְכָר֔וּת לֹ֥א תַקְרִ֖יבוּ לַֽה' וּֽבְאַרְצְכֶ֖ם לֹ֥א תַעֲשֽׂוּ׃

    (24) You shall not offer to the LORD anything [with its testes] bruised or crushed or torn or cut. You shall have no such practices in your own land,

  15. (ה) לֹא־יִהְיֶ֤ה כְלִי־גֶ֙בֶר֙ עַל־אִשָּׁ֔ה וְלֹא־יִלְבַּ֥שׁ גֶּ֖בֶר שִׂמְלַ֣ת אִשָּׁ֑ה כִּ֧י תוֹעֲבַ֛ת ה' אֱלֹקֶ֖יךָ כָּל־עֹ֥שֵׂה אֵֽלֶּה׃ (פ)

    (5) A woman must not put on man’s apparel, nor shall a man wear woman’s clothing; for whoever does these things is abhorrent to the LORD your God.

  16. בבא קמא צ״א ב:ז׳

    אלא תנאי היא דאיכא למ"ד אין אדם רשאי לחבל בעצמו ואיכא מ"ד אדם רשאי לחבל בעצמו

    Rather, it must be that this is a dispute between tanna’im, as there is a tanna who says that it is not permitted for a person to injure himself, and there is a tanna who says that it is permitted for a person to injure himself.

  17. (טו) וְנִשְׁמַרְתֶּ֥ם מְאֹ֖ד לְנַפְשֹׁתֵיכֶ֑ם כִּ֣י לֹ֤א רְאִיתֶם֙ כָּל־תְּמוּנָ֔ה בְּי֗וֹם דִּבֶּ֨ר ה' אֲלֵיכֶ֛ם בְּחֹרֵ֖ב מִתּ֥וֹךְ הָאֵֽשׁ׃

    (15) For your own sake, therefore, be most careful—since you saw no shape when the LORD your God spoke to you at Horeb out of the fire—

  18. Sources on whether the surgery halakhically changes the person's gender: 

  19. (כב) ואת זכר. אחר שמצאנו הן שכבתי אמש את אבי הנה אזהרה לשוכב ולנשכב ויאמר רב חננאל ז''ל כי יש מי שיחדש בגופו כצורת בשר אשה וזה לא יתכן בתולדה ויש אומרים אנדרוגינוס וכל הצער הזה בעבור היות משכבי אשה לשון רבים ודברי יחיד שני משכבים והנכון בעיני כי המצוה כפשוטה גם אנשי התושיה חייבו מיתה עליה

    (22) AND WITH A MALE. Since we find: "Look, I lay last night with my father"(Gen 19:34), see, it is a warning to the lier and to the laid. Rabeinu Hananel, z'l, said that there is one who recreates within his body something like the form of a woman's flesh, and this is not likely at birth. And there are those who say: androgynous. And all this trouble is on account of a woman's lyings being in the plural with the words of an individual referring to two lyings. The correct understanding, in my eyes, is that the mitsvah is as its simple meaning. Also, the men of wisdom condemned to death on account of it.

  20. שו"ת ציץ אליעזר חלק יא סימן עח

    תינוק שנולד ומבחינה חיצונית נראה כנקבה ומבחינה גנטית הינו זכר אם מותר לנתחו ולהפכו לזכר או לנקבה.

    הן אמנם באנדריגוניס ישנה בעי' הלכותית נוספת והוא, במה ששוללים ממנו עי"ש שיהפכו אותו לנקבה המצוות שהי' מתחייב מספק גם כזכר כמבואר ומפורט בברייתא דאנדרוגינוס בפ"ד דבכורים וברמב"ם בהלכותיו.

     

    אבל אי משום הא אין לאסור, בהיות ומציאותו משתנה, וכעין שמצינו בטומטום שנקרע, שבהשתנות גופו משתנה גם דינו (יעוין במאירי ביבמות שם) ובפרט כשמבצעים זאת בקטנותו בטרם שמתחייב עוד בכלל במצוות, ורק צריכים קביעה דקדוקית ברור האם אמנם ע"י ביצוע הניתוח שיבצעו באנדרוגינוס ישתנה ויהפך באמת לנקבה ודאית, ומה גם שהרמב"ם הרי קבע להלכה בפ"ב מה' אישות שם שמהותו של האנדרוגינוס לא יוכל להקבע בודאות לעולם, ולכן יש לחזר היטב כדי להודע אם העד כדי כך נשתנה כעת הטבע או התפתח הידע הרפואי?

     

    עכ"פ אין לזה שייכות לעצם ביצוע הניתוח שכאמור דעתי נוטה שמותר לבצע זאת הן באופן כללי להפוך את המין היילוד שמבחינה גנטית הינו זכר, לנקבה. וגם לרבות במקרה שלפנינו העומד על הפרק שמותר לכרות את האשך היחיד ולהפוך לנקבה היילוד אשר מבחינה חיצונית כבר נראה כנקבה.

    English
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  22. Orthodox rabbi addresses transgender issues

    LA Jewish Journal

    BY JAWEED KALEEM | PUBLISHED FEB 17, 2016 | RELIGION




    The transgender rights movement has become a hot-button topic in popular culture and among liberal religious institutions, so much so that the Union for Reform Judaism last fall passed a monumental transgender rights policy that called for spreading “awareness and increase knowledge of issues related to gender identity,” including the use of preferred pronouns and, when needed, gender-neutral language in religious and social settings.


    Yet, the picture for transgender Jews has been more fraught among conservative traditions. In recent years, on Jewish campuses and at rabbinical seminaries as well as within congregations, consciousness and debate have arisen about the role and acceptance of the growing number of Jews who have come out as transgender.

    Perhaps that’s one reason why a talk on the evening of Feb. 10 on transgender issues given by one of the top leaders of the modern Orthodox movement attracted more than 100 people to the Modern Orthodox Beth Jacob Congregation in Beverly Hills.


    In his discussion of Jewish thought on being transgender, Rabbi Tzvi Hersh Weinreb, executive vice president, emeritus of the Orthodox Union, touched on topics ranging from talmudic references to gender to how Jewish law relates to people who transition sexes, as well as questions of prayer and social interaction inside and outside religious settings when it comes to transgender Jews. While transgender people are diverse in how they present their gender and their transition process — many do not undergo sex reassignment surgery, for example — much of the rabbi’s talk focused on physical changes, such as surgery and hormonal treatments and how Jewish law and tradition sees the body.


    “A person who is a committed Jew but wants to live in contemporary society has to walk a fine line,” said Weinreb, who hinted at being somewhat personally uncomfortable with the quick rise of what media outlets have dubbed the “transgender moment.” Weinreb at times described Jewish tradition and scholars as categorically denying the possibility of modifying one’s body through clothing, makeup, hormones or surgery to transition genders, yet, during other moments, explained exceptions under Jewish law where a person could legally change both body and name to match gender identity. In his talk, he continually returned to three instructions.


    In a world of increasing anti-Semitism and division, Weinreb said, nobody should reject a Jew from a religious congregation or community because he or she is transgender. The rabbi also encouraged compassion for transgender people, saying he personally knew several transgender Jews who are “very sincere in their desire to worship the Almighty and to observe His Torah and mitzvot” and should be encouraged to “remain within the fold of observant Judaism.” Last, the rabbi said, while “there are guidelines in our religion for how to disagree, hatred is not OK.”

    Weinreb spoke for about 90 minutes on the subject, saying he pursued research on Jewish tradition on gender in response to receiving questions from campus mentors who work on college and university outreach for the Orthodox Union. The rabbi said his professional background — he previously had a private psychotherapy practice — also spurred his interest.


    On biblical laws, Weinreb said, many Jewish scholars have determined that prohibitions against castration, dressing and grooming oneself like the other gender, wounding oneself “when not medically necessary,” and “entering a dangerous situation” (“all surgery and general anesthesia comes with great risks,” the rabbi said), generally would prohibit one from acts such as changing one’s clothing, or the use of makeup by transgender women, as well as undergoing a sex-reassignment surgery.


    Yet, “there are exceptions,” Weinreb said. “If my life is in danger, I can do all of the above.” For example, he said, “If a person is suffering from gender dysphoria, is that person’s life in danger?” If, as a result, the person is suicidal, the rabbi said, then his or her life is in danger, making it permissible to transition to the other gender.

    Yet, he pointed out, even if a person changes their name, pronoun and way of dress or modifies their body to match their gender identity, “Most rabbis believe birth gender is the halachic gender for life.”


    In an email later, the rabbi explained, “Thus a person born male who becomes a trans-female is still a male halachically, and for example, is obligated to wear tefillin. A person born female who becomes trans-male is exempt from tefillin.”


    Weinreb frequently cited “Dor Tahapuchot” by Rabbi Idan Ben Efraim, a Hebrew exploration of transgender issues that he said is considered one of the most extensive. “The current appearance of a transsexual [does] have some bearing in social interactional situations, so that a trans-male should dress like a man and a trans-female should dress like a woman,” Weinreb said via email. Efraim, he wrote, “suggested that in an Orthodox synagogue, where the genders sit separately, a trans-male should sit in the men’s section, and the trans-female should sit in the women’s section.” Similarly, for someone who is shomer negiah, concerned about touch, Weinreb said a transgender person should be treated based upon how they present their gender, not the gender they were assigned at birth.


    Weinreb did not address the issue of mikveh in his talk “in the interest of modesty,” but he elaborated on it via email.


    “The primary purpose of a mikveh in present times is for a married woman whose menstrual period has ended to resume marital relations with her husband. A born male who has undergone gender change to a woman is a male from the halachic perspective, and men do not menstruate. … A born woman who has changed gender to a male will not menstruate at all, so will never be required to immerse in a mikveh.”


    In an email exchange with the Journal after the presentation, Rabbi Kalman Topp, senior rabbi at Beth Jacob, described the presentation at his synagogue as “nuanced” and said it was “well-received by our diverse audience.” Weinreb also conducted a lengthy question-and-answer session after his formal talk ended, fielding pointed questions and commentary from audience members, ranging from those who felt he wasn’t supportive enough to transgender people, to some who thought his presentation was too radical a departure for an Orthodox rabbi.


    “One of his overarching messages, which I fully agree with, is that a transsexual is first and foremost a human being who must be treated with dignity, respect and sensitivity,” Topp told the Journal.


    “The way I see it is that the Torah is both a Torat emet — a Torah of truth conveyed through laws and values, as well as a Torat chesed — a Torah filled with compassion. A religious Jew is compelled to grapple with this dialectic and integrate both components,” Topp said. “With this issue, it means that we adhere fully to our tradition of Jewish law without denying the commandments inherent in it. At the same time, we recognize that a core element of that tradition is to appreciate — with compassion and respect — the humanity of every single individual and act accordingly.”

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