The Soul of the Stranger: Reading God and Torah from a Transgender Perspective, 2018

In OtherWise Christian: A Guidebook for Liberation, I used so much content from Joy Ladin’s The Soul of the Stranger: Reading God and Torah from a Transgender Perspective that I asked her to read two of my chapters just to make sure I didn’t get anything wrong in representing her work!

In my Chapter 18 (!), called “Torah Study,” I follow some highlights from Ladin’s exploration of Genesis. In my Chapter 21, called “Resident Aliens and Feeling Different,” I follow some highlights from Ladin’s later chapters, including the theme behind her title, “The Soul of the Stranger.”

As someone who was brought up with standard Christian caricatures of Jewish tradition, I have found that Dr Ladin’s work has been particularly helpful for me in better understanding… well… how clueless the Christian caricatures of Jewish tradition can be. My two chapters pointing to highlights from Dr Ladin really set the stage for a variety of others insights in the second half of the book because they place Jesus (and Joseph(ine) and Rebekah and the disciples) in the larger context of the development of Jewish tradition. Without those two chapters, I feel like OtherWise Christian would be a much less cohesive project.

Dr Ladin’s book is a powerful combination of memoir and Torah Study.  Her reading of scripture and Jewish tradition is important (so important that I spent two chapters on it!). When she adds a personal aside, there is nothing gratuitous about it. She is always on point and often incredibly poignant. I found it to be an elegant and innovative combination.

We (Transfaith) did a short Resource Round Up earlier this year with Dr Ladin. The recording of our conversation and the courseroom materials are still available from Transfaith for just $5. You’ll also get a 20% discount on the book and access to the study guide that I developed (with Dr Ladin) to go along with Soul of the Stranger.

In just a week (July 31), we’ll be kicking off a more in-depth 4-session conversation with Dr Ladin that we are calling, “Torah Study with Joy Ladin.” We plan to go through her book, approximately two chapters per week with plenty of time for questions and dialogue. That first time we held a session like this, OtherWise Christian was begun, but not yet fully formed. So I am excited to facilitate this time as a fellow author!

In our Resource Round Up, Dr Ladin shared that there was a glitch behind the scenes that happened right as her book was launching. Even though she got a warm Publisher’s Weekly book review, her book really hasn’t gotten as much buzz as it deserves. So I want to recommend it highly! I hope that people who read chapters 18 and 21 of OtherWise Christian will go out and get Dr Ladin’s book if they are hungry for more.

I cite lots of amazing authors, but Peterson Toscano’s Transfigurations and Joy Ladin’s Soul of the Stranger are easily the two resources that I would most recommend as a follow-up to OtherWise Christian.

MORE RESOURCES: Transgender and the (Christian) Bible

ALSO Transgender Christian (auto)Biographies

  • Joy Ladin is Jewish, so she isn’t on this list. However, you may enjoy her memoir, Through the Door of Life: A Jewish Journey between Genders.

ALSO Transgender Christian Oral Histories

Compiled by Mx. Chris Paige on July 23, 2019.

Note: This blog is intended to be an on-going work in progress. Please contact us if you have corrections or are able to contribute further context or reflections.

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