Abstract

In responding to Joy Ladin's reparative reading of Genesis 1–3, the article argues that what is most salient about the biblical narrative is its inscription of male dominance and linking of male dominance to compulsory heterosexuality. In Genesis 1, the existence of a male/female binary is declared foundational to creation. In Genesis 2, we learn that this binary is not innocent, that however much the woman is like the man, the man, in telling the story, has allotted precedence to himself. In Genesis 3, male precedence is depicted as affirmed by God in a way that ties it to both Eve's gender role and heterosexual coupledom. While this is not a reading that is recuperative from a transgender perspective, it does show clearly what is potentially at stake in a transgender critique. If the creation narrative ties together sexual differentiation, gender roles, male dominance, and heterosexuality, questioning the notion of a sexual binary and the necessary entanglement of sex and gender threatens—or promises—to unravel this whole fabric. Every node in the complex interconnections posited by Genesis is based on a binary: male/female, masculine/feminine, male/masculine over female/feminine, homosexual/heterosexual. To challenge the seemingly clear and irrefutable given, the male/female binary, is to leave the others without foundation.

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