The Torah is strewn with transgendered hearts.
How can that be true? The Torah, as we know, is not written for or about transgender people, and in any case, “transgender” is supposed to be a noun or adjective, not a verb, an umbrella term for the millions of people whose gender identity or expression is more complicated than “male” or “female.” “Transgender” gathers gender-complicated people into a broad, simple category – the equivalent of “African American” or “Latino” – and implies that our identities, like those of other minorities, are a matter of fact that is not up for discussion. But though “transgender” has real advantages for describing ourselves to others, for many of us who identify as transgender, identity is an often-messy, ongoing process, not a simple, settled fact. For me, “transgender” isn’t just something I am – it is an active, terrifying, exalting process of unmaking and remaking a self that will never quite fit established categories of gender or identity. Continue reading
Jews read sections of the Torah each week, and these sections, known as parshiyot, inspire endless examination year after year. Each week we will bring you regular essays examining these portions from a queer perspective, drawn from the book Torah Queeries: Weekly Commentaries on the Hebrew Bible and the Torah Queeries online collection. This week, David Katzenelson looks at parshat Lech Lecha, and concludes that we can’t begin the work mending the world until we have come to love ourselves.
Our parasha starts with the first words G-d explicitly says to Abraham. These words are also the first commandment given by G-d to a member of the chosen people, a nation that will later adopt the name “Jews.” They embody both the first commandment given to the chosen and the act of choosing itself.
Authors of other Torah Queeries have pointed out “Lech Lecha” means “go to yourself.” I wish to focus on a different issue. Why does G-d say these words to Abraham of all people? Why and how is he chosen? And what is he chosen to do? Continue reading