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Does the Halachic prohibition of Kol Isha apply to transgender people? So if a woman underwent operations to present as a man, can you listen to her sing? And what about a man who visibly looks like a woman? The reason I ask is because although gender in Halacha starts at birth, Kol Isha (to my understanding) is only Derabbanan so many opinions say the prohibition applies when you see the opposite gender person, not merely hear them.

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Following our discussion in comments, I discussed your question with R Binyamin Tabady, a posek halacha in Israel, who confirmed my initial thoughts.

The obligation of kol isha is on the listener. Since halakha doesn't recognize gender changes, a man remains forbidden to listen to the voice of a biological woman, even if that person calls herself a man, or had surgery to look more like a man.

Similarly, a man who looks like a woman would not create an issue of kol isha is other men listened to that person sing.

The issue might theoretically be different if the transgender person had vocal cord surgery which resulted in his voice being different, although that requires further study.

For further sources see here, here and here.

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  • What happens if the listener thinks he is listening to a biological woman when he isn't? Does that make any difference? Dec 1, 2023 at 10:56
  • Vocal cord surgery isn't always necessary for a person to change their voice from female-sounding to male-sounding or vice versa. A person with a female-sounding voice who takes testosterone as a medication will generally end up having a male-sounding voice as a result. A person with a male-sounding voice can perform training techniques which result in the ability to sing or speak with a female-sounding voice. Dec 2, 2023 at 12:25
  • @MosesSupposes the answer takes the route that kol Isha is objective not subjective
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Dec 2, 2023 at 18:22
  • @RabbiKaii It might not technically be kol ishah then, but surely even then it is a problem for a person to do an action that they believe is an aveirah, and surely it is even more of a problem then if the listener is attracted as a result!? Dec 2, 2023 at 18:32
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    @MosesSupposes sure, but that would likely be lifnei iver and lo taturu respectively, not kol isha
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Dec 2, 2023 at 18:55

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