A Trans, Autistic, and Neurogender Jewish Monster: The Story of the Golem

  • Dean Leetal


This critical commentary revisits the Jewish story of the Golem and reads it as a transgender text. Some say that the Golem inspired Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, a story famously interpreted by Susan Stryker as an allegory for her own trans experience: living on the edge of society, her humanity debated, defined by a morally questionable medical establishment. But there are important dierences between Frankenstein and the Golem. The Golem is brought to life through language, particularly the Hebrew word ‘emet,’ and is an animated clay tasked with protecting Jewish marginalized communities. Today, questions of language and truth are at the center of many debates regarding the validity and nature of transgender people. The concept of protecting marginalized communities, even while being rejected from them, is also painfully relevant. Unlike Frankenstein, though, the Golem is nonverbal, which is linked to autism. Thus, I argue that a neurogender analysis of their story that accounts for both gender and neurodivergence is critical. This reading focuses on these points of relation and what they may bring to light.

Critical Commentaries