Monday, September 08, 2008


Found this article in the NY Post about a transgendered Prof at YU. R Moshe Tendler is outraged:

"He's not a woman. He's a male with enlarged breasts," said Rabbi Moshe Tendler, a senior dean at Yeshiva's rabbinical school and a professor of biology and medical ethics. "He's a person who represents a kind of amorality which runs counter to everything Yeshiva University stands for. There is just no leeway in Jewish law for a transsexual.

"There is no niche where he can hide out as a female without being in massive violation of Torah law, Torah ethics and Torah morality."

What I don't understand is that it seems to me that Halakha, from the Mishna to Shulchan Aruch,deals with the questions of androgeny and transexualism, and seems to do so in a non-judgemental and a-hysterical fashion. In light of this, I find R Tendler's quote puzzling. is it a matter of bedieved vs l'hatchila?

Here is an article giving a good summary of halacha of tumtum and androgenous.


Blogger Jewish Atheist said...

It's got nothing to do with halakha and everything to do with prejudice. R' Tendler thinks transgendered people are disgusting. Then again, I'm sure the author of Deuteronomy would agree.

September 08, 2008 8:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


'He's a person who represents a kind of amorality'

Amorality? Does he mean 'immorality'? I don't get that comment at all.

September 08, 2008 10:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Unlike a 21st-century transgender, the tumtum and androgenos do not develop their condition by choice.

If the professor under consideration has kept male distinguishing parts, Halakha considers that person male. The tumtum and androgenos have neither or both, respectively. The Halakha does not recognize the concept of transexualism that e-kvetcher refers to. It would clearly consider relations with a male to be homosexual in nature.

Nevertheless, R' Tendler's response is not that of the clinically detached Talmudist, as JA notes. The terms "Torah ethics" and "Torah morality" are extrahalakhic, obviously. While accusations of prejudice are unsubstantiated, moral disgust on the part of R' Tendler is clearly apparent.

By the way, JA, I believe you meant H (Leviticus 18 and 20), not D.

September 08, 2008 7:48 PM  
Blogger Yosef said...

See here for one take on the basis for such statements. Torah law does not consider a person's outward appearance; a person's "gender" is fixed at birth, and anyone living as "the other gender" cannot help but cross (in the sense of the verb `over, to cross or transgress) the Torah's moral code.
Granted, it's not a PC thing to say, but Torah is a moral code from On High, and that certainly should supercede political correctness in terms of how one should live one's life.

September 08, 2008 8:45 PM  
Blogger N. Nussbaum said...

Check this out for an alternate view point of the halacha regarding transsexuality.

September 09, 2008 11:57 AM  
Blogger The back of the hill said...

I would think that the relevant details would be what the person does with the sexual equipment they have vis a vis the party they are doing it with.

In other words, if there are no more male squidgy bits (not yet the case, from what I understand), and only female squidgy bits (whether or not fully functional), then the person can only have "congress" with a male to whom hse is married (in order for it to be halachically 100% approved).

Of course, irrespective of halacha, whatever they do with whatever they have is not our business if they do it in private, and no children, animals, or old people are harmed in the process.

If the professor decides to go the whole nine yards and have some serious re-architecture performed, I hope for her sake that the surgeon is an artist.

September 09, 2008 6:24 PM  

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