I just read an article in Christianity Today which reports on “Evangelicals hope to respond with both moral authority and biblical compassion to gender identity disorder.” Ugh.
Even LGBT-affirming folks like Jimmy Creech seem to question the Biblical support for the transgender experience. He starts off strong enough when they quote him saying,
Religion has been used in history to discriminate against various groups of people by justifying slavery, denying women the right to vote, and persecuting religious minorities,” says Jimmy Creech, executive director of Faith in America. “Today it is being used to persecute lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered people.
But then he adds this zinger.
We have to recognize the Bible in terms of the history and culture in which it was written,” Creech says. “Scripture doesn’t address the issues of transgender experience.
The piece also quotes Warren Throckmorton, who had been a strong proponent of ex-gay therapy and still supports his own form of ex-gay treatment under a different name in which he tries to provide a way to people to get lined up with Biblical sexual ethics (ah, but whose?)
“Transgender impulses are strong, but they don’t match up with the Christian sexual ethic,” says Warren Throckmorton, associate professor of psychology at Grove City College in Pennsylvania. “Desires must be brought into alignment with biblical teachings, but it will be inconvenient and distressful.”
“Even if science does determine differentiation in the brain at birth,” Throckmorton says, “even if there are prenatal influences, we can’t set aside teachings of the Bible because of research findings.”
The piece goes on to talk about the LGBT civil rights issues and hate crime legislation. They also quote ex-gay leader Alan Chambers who conflates gender issues with sexual orientation. Something that lots of LGB folks have done for a long time.
But the writer never once counters Creech’s or Throckmorton’s assertions. Perhaps I read a different Bible, but once I put on some gender glasses and re-visited the scriptures with an eye to find those Bible folks who live outside of socially prescribed gender roles and presentations, I found a treasure trove of transgender Bible characters.
The article doesn’t make a single reference to eunuchs, those gender others who play key roles in both the Hebrew and Christians scriptures. The whole story of Esther would fall apart if it were not for the surgically altered gender variant eunuchs. But beyond eunuchs, there are plenty of other individuals that good Biblical exegesis reveals as gender variant.
Ignorantly lots of folks think you need to have a surgery to be transgender. Nope, not true. Also, they fail to acknowledge that we do not always know who is trans among us or in the scriptures. Many of us live and work and worship alongside people who have transitioned, and we never know it. Some of these folks never had surgery. Today for female to male trans folks testosterone and chest binding works wonders.
Now if folks want to get a good education about the transgender experience in the scriptures, I encourage them to see my play Transfigurations—Transgressing Gender in the Bible. I will be in Memphis with it in less than two weeks. Here is the excellent poster designed by the amazing Christine Bakke (click on it for a larger view).
If you need some more info on transgender faith issues, visit Trans Faith Online. I just had coffee with Chris Paige, the creator of the site and strongly encourage you to spend time reading the many wonderful articles there. Chris rocks.
Have a listen to the Trans-Ponder podcast with Jayna and Mila. In episode 19 they had me on to talk about Trans Bible characters.
And why not pick up the Bible and find some transgender Bible characters for yourself. Ask, seek, knock. They’re there!