The shapes of trans lives, identities, and cultures are changing rapidly. The term transgender is itself just a few decades old, and exists in a web of ideas about sex and gender that only calcified in the 20th century. At the same time, people who deviated from social conventions of what we would now call sex or gender—people we might see as ancestors of trans people today—have always existed. What happens when we look for them in ancient texts? How might we think about trans continuity in our cultural archives, without coercing ancestors into contemporary categories? Join Max Strassfeld—whose recent book, Trans Talmud, investigates the androgynes and eunuchs who appear throughout the foundational Jewish text—along with scholars Jules Gill-Peterson and Joy Ladin, for a conversation on reading the trans archive today, moderated by Jewish Currents editor Ari M. Brostoff.
Jules Gill-Peterson is the author of Histories of the Transgender Child, published by the Univeristy of Minnesota Press in 2018, and teaches at Johns Hopkins University. She is a general co-editor of TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly, and her next book, A Short History of Trans Misogyny, will be published by Verso Books.
Joy Ladin is the author of a memoir of gender transition, National Jewish Book Award finalist Through the Door of Life; Lambda Literary and Triangle Award finalist, The Soul of the Stranger: Reading God and Torah from a Transgender Perspective; and ten books of poetry, including her new collection, Shekhinah Speaks (Selva Oscura Press), National Jewish Book Award winner The Book of Anna, and Lambda Literary Award finalists Transmigration and Impersonation. Her work has been recognized with a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, a Fulbright Scholarship, an American Council of Learned Societies Research Fellowship, and a Hadassah Brandeis Institute Research Fellowship, among other honors. Her writing is available at joyladin.wordpress.com.
Max Strassfeld is an Associate Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Arizona. They are the author of Trans Talmud: Androgynes and Eunuchs in Rabbinic Literature, which came out with the University of California Press in 2022.
Ari M. Brostoff is a senior editor at Jewish Currents. Their first book, Missing Time, came out this year.