Leprous Transsexuals: A Queer Midrashic Reading of Vayikra/Leviticus 13-14
This thesis demonstrates how transgender experiences can illuminate the biblical metanarrative of the metsora (leper). The book of Vayikra (Leviticus) tells kohanim (priests) how to identify and deal with metsoraâ€™im (lepers), namely by removing them from the community. Similarly, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) tells American psychiatrists how to identify and deal with gender deviants. In both cases, professionals wield texts given the power to determine the lives of people whose bodily existence defies constructed norms of ability and wholeness, of sanctioned sexuality, and of social desirability. By reimagining metsoraâ€™im as survivors in exile, I push back against Vayikra 13 and 14, which define them primarily in terms of disorder. I want to hold up the metsora as a mirror for trans folks, a window through which we can see ourselves in the Torah.