Transing the Talmud: Androgynes and Eunuchs in Rabbinic Literature
October 18 @ 5:00 pm - 6:30 pm
What happens if we place eunuchs and androgynes at the center of canonical Jewish sources? What can we learn about gender, Jewish law, and the project of transgender history from late ancient texts about these figures? The rabbis constructed intricate taxonomies of sex/gender; rather than anomalies to be justified or explained away, eunuchs and androgynes profoundly shaped ideas about law and gender. These premodern sources challenge the notion that Judaism is solely invested in binary gender, and requires us to reassess our received narratives about the relationship between religion and gender.
Dr. Max Strassfeld (Ph.D. in Religious Studies, Stanford University) specializes in Rabbinic Literature, Transgender Studies, and Jewish Studies. His book Trans Talmud: Androgynes and Eunuchs in Rabbinic Literature (University of California Press, 2022) explores eunuchs and androgynes in Jewish law, and pairs classical Jewish texts with intersex autobiography, transgender studies, and theories of queer temporality, in order to argue that the rabbis use these figures to map the boundaries of normative masculinity.