Tumtum (טֻומְטוּם) is a gender from Jewish culture, where a person’s gender is "hidden, indeterminate, obscured, or private". The closest modern western equivalent is agender or neutrois. Historically, tumtum was usually assigned to intersex conditions where the genitals end up covered by skin. However, many non-binary or intersex Jewish people find that the term fits their experience.
In Jewish sacred texts there are six different genders identified. These are:
- "Zachar", someone who is identified as male at birth and presents as male later in life. This would be considered to be a cisgender man today.
- "Nekeivah", someone who is identified as female at birth and presents as female later in life. This would be considered a cisgender women today.
- "Ay'lonit", someone who is identified as female at birth but shows male characteristics later in life. This can be considered a transgender man in today's terms.
- "Saris", someone who is identified as male at birth but shows female characteristics later in life. This can be considered a transgender woman in today's terms.
- "Androgynos", someone who has both male and female sexual characteristics. This would refer to certain intersex conditions, but in terms of gender in the modern day it is closest to bigender.
- "Tumtum" someone whose sexual characteristics are indeterminate or obscured. This would also refer to intersex conditions, but in terms of gender it is closest to agender.
Unfortunately, historically tumtum and androgynos are almost only brought up in discussions of how to deal with the child’s genitals (as in, whether or not to perform surgery), or when discussing “what if” situations for certain laws (for instance, if a law states different treatment for women and men, how would it apply to someone who is both or neither?)
Tumtum is a culture exclusive gender, specific to Jewish culture and should not be used by people not of that culture.
Flag[edit | edit source]
The tumtum flag was submitted to the Tumblr blog ask-pride-color-schemes by the user tumtum_and_androgynos on December 21, 2016. The symbolism of the flags is as follows: The white and blue bars represent a connection to Judaism. In particular, blue is considered a divine color, associated with the sky and G-d. Meanwhile white has a general symbolism of purity, as it does in many other cultures. Grey is used as grey has an association with agender, the closest English equivalent to tumtum. Grey can also be seen as some obscure/not specific/hiding, similar to the idea of tumtum gender.
The orange and teal flag was designed by Tumblr user Bigfootrights on November 8, 2019. The tumtum flag was inspired by Genesis and Eve. Eve is never described in a way that she may be argued as intersex, but if she is also made in G-d’s image and she comes from Adam (who is never described with gendered language and can be interpreted as being intersex), then in some ways she may also be considered intersex. Eve is often depicted as being covered or obscured in art, whether by her hair or foliage, so in my mind, she is associated with tumtum. Orange is used to represent the sun setting for a new day, and the teal is meant to represent the water, as well as the grass and leaves of the garden. White is meant to parallel the trans flag.