The New York Times recently published a whooper of a guest essay with this whooper of a headline: “Ancient Judaism Recognized a Range of Genders. It’s Time We Did, Too.” The only reasonable response anyone can have to this claim is “No it didn’t, and no we shouldn’t.”
The author, described in the piece as a nonbinary, transgender rabbi, explains, “In my own tradition, Judaism, our most sacred texts reflect a multiplicity of gender.” She adds, “This part of Judaism has mostly been obscured by the modern binary world until very recently.”
Just let that sink in. She is referring to Genesis where we clearly read (See 1:27),
“And God created man in His image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.”
The image of God in creation is male and female. And the next verse solidifies the truth of this when God gives male and female His first command,
“And God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth…”
Male and female, image and likeness of God. Male and female, procreation.
Jason Bedrick, a research scholar at the Heritage Foundation and Cato Institute, draws from his Jewish faith explaining how fabulously wrong this author is, “The NYT piece claims there are ‘four genders beyond male or female that appear in ancient Jewish holy texts hundreds of times.’ Wrong.”
Bedrick adds, “The tumtum, androgynous, aylonit, and saris are NOT genders. ‘Gender’ [as conceived of late] was not even a concept in the Talmud separate from biological sex.”
He is precisely right.
Such assertions, and they are ubiquitous today, operate one a wholly new definition of gender that was completely made up in the last few milliseconds of human history.
Let us look at the actual root meaning of the word.
The etymology of gender has the root gene- from the “Proto-Indo-European root meaning ‘give birth, beget,’ with derivatives referring to procreation and familial and tribal groups.” It is no coincidence at all that gender shares the same root meaning as procreative words like genesis, genealogy, generation, gene, even genitals for goodness sake.
Gender is sex and sex is gender. This new idea that sex and gender are different things is wholly novel, baseless ideology. It is not founded in science, reason or any tradition. It is a manufactured belief system rooted solely in gender ideology.
And Jewish tradition teaches nothing of the sort. Nor does any other ancient religion. Sohrab Ahmari gets it exactly right in his frank criticism of this piece.
Deut 22: "A woman shall not wear a man's garment, nor shall a man put on a woman's clothing; for anyone who does such things is an abomination to the LORD, your God."
NYT guest writer: "The ancient Jews were queer, y'all!" pic.twitter.com/itfNC3bgdN
— Sohrab Ahmari (@SohrabAhmari) March 19, 2023
Bedrick adds, “It’s also ridiculous that the NYT wants to use the Talmud’s recognition of sexual deformities to push transgenderism when the Torah itself very clearly forbids cross-dressing and castration (what’s today euphemistically called ‘gender-affirming surgery’).
It’s also ridiculous that the NYT wants to use the Talmud’s recognition of sexual deformities to push transgenderism when the Torah itself very clearly forbids cross-dressing and castration (what’s today euphemistically called “gender-affirming surgery”).
— Jason Bedrick (@JasonBedrick) March 19, 2023
As Princeton University’s Robert George explains, this so-called trans and non-binary New York Times author’s whole premise falls apart in one admission. Deep in the article, she admits,
There is not an exact equivalence between these ancient categories and modern gender identities. Some of these designations are based on biology, some on a person’s role in society.
And her whole case, like most gender activists, is built in conflating these clear differences into one. But she soldiers on, sticking to her script explaining, “people who are more than binary have always been recognized by my religion. We are not a fad.”
She gets this wrong too. This is a fad, a very destructive one, and even classic liberals like HBO’s Bill Maher recognize the fact.
We need to stop pretending things like what this The New York Times writer is saying are true. They are not.
We need to stop believing such things are rooted in ancient religious texts. They are not.
We need to stop saying this is just how some people are. They are not.
We need to stop saying this is how enlightened, compassionate people now see reality. It is not.
Humanity is male and female. Binary. This is true now. It has always been true throughout human history, across all cultures. It is taught in our ancient religious texts. It is taught by science. Everyone knows this to be true.
It is just that some people wish otherwise and elite media outlets like The New York Times are all too happy to assist them in trying to convince others of such falsehoods.
This is exactly what the Grey Lady has done here. But she also makes a second serious mistake.
Youth Suicide and Emotional Manipulation
The author uses her assertion to give a long and manipulative derasha on how misgendering young people and laws banning experimental bodily mutilation are driving youth suicide to dramatic heights. The author explains, “It’s not being transgender or nonbinary that kills young people; it’s the shunning, lack of acceptance and transphobia they encounter in the struggle to be who they truly are.”
The intended message here is clear: Call someone by the wrong pronoun or support laws prohibiting mutilation of minors and a child’s death could be on your hands. But advocates who work with gender confused youth and suicide prevention will tell you such talk is deeply irresponsible.
One of the major booklets endorsed by such leading activist organizations like HRC, GLSEN, GLAAD, PFLAG, The Trevor Project, National LGBTQ Task Force, and the Transgender Law Center explains why. In “Talking About Suicide & LGBT Populations” they explicitly warn, in literal bold print, “Don’t attribute a suicide death to a single factor (such as bullying or discrimination) or say that a specific anti-LGBT law or policy will ‘cause’ suicide.” The underlying reasons are more multi-layered and complex.
Here is a screenshot of their clear warning (on page 3) against what the NYTs writer does in her piece.
Telling untruths, even for seemingly compassionate reasons, helps no one. And as this emphatic warning shows, it could actually cause tragic harm.
Our media elites must do better.
Photo from Shutterstock.