OC2: Preface by Mx Chris Paige

Preface
OtherWise Christian 2: Stories of Resistance
By Mx Chris Paige

In OtherWise Christian: A Guidebook for Transgender Liberation, I focused primarily on digging into scripture, from Genesis to Galatians. Yet, for Christians to understand and appreciate OtherWise-gendered people will require more than just an affirming understanding of the biblical text, it also will require more than survey questionnaires and textbooks with terms and definitions. To really understand OtherWise-gendered folk will require experience in authentic relationship with diverse OtherWise-gendered people who are making our way in the world. 

Too often, when an (openly) transgender person walks through the door of a church, they become a de facto one-person transgender education task force. This can be problematic for both the individual and the congregation. First and foremost, the individual may have come bearing burdens, not seeking to teach! Meanwhile, if you have met one person of transgender experience, you have met only one person of transgender experience. You are likely to learn about that one person’s bias and experience, but you may miss out on the gender-full testimonies that would come from more diverse perspectives.

Meanwhile, the challenges facing people with intersex variations are similar, yet compounded by additional layers of stigma, shame, invisibility, and misinformation. I have long believed that endosex (that is, not intersex) transgender folk need to do a better job of working in solidarity with our intersex siblings. I am proud and grateful that five openly intersex people are included in this volume speaking from their own experience. Yet, we can (and will) do more. In fact, plans are already in motion (see Appendix A).

OtherWise Christian 2: Stories of Resistance endeavors to introduce you, briefly, to a range of OtherWise-gendered people. Drawing on relationships from my time with The Other Side magazine and with Transfaith, I reached out to friends and colleagues. I asked them to write about their lived experience and to connect that experience to scripture. There were a few cases where I asked for something more specific based on pre-existing sermons, publications, or personal sharing, but generally not. I read in awe as each story emerged, unique in its focus but with deep connections among them.

There is something profoundly intimate about editing someone’s spiritual reflection. I have found editing this anthology to be truly sacred work. It has been an honor and a privilege in every sense of those words to shepherd this project. I do not take it for granted that this many folk, both brilliant and bruised, have trusted me with their words, despite differences in race, gender, sexuality, class, and religious perspective. Some are long-time friends, some are newer colleagues, and some are relationships that emerged directly out of this project.

Being actively in touch with about a dozen of these authors at any given time was also sobering. What you will not see generally reflected in this text are the details of hospitalizations and funerals, job losses and financial strains, mental health challenges and medication changes, school deadlines and family obligations, cross-country moves and international travel that occurred even just in the months that I was working to compile these reflections. Please understand that every one of these people is navigating serious real-life challenges, while making themselves vulnerable, not just to me, but to all of us through these chapters.

There are a million very good reasons why any one of them might have chosen not to take this risk with me or with us. There are a million more things that could have gone wrong as we worked through such sensitive topics and representations. Indeed, several authors dropped out because they could not make the time in their schedule for various reasons. So, I specifically want to honor and acknowledge the strength and courage of these authors. Their trust and commitment are the foundation upon which this anthology has grown.

I will continue blogging at otherwisechristian.com with news and links about other projects these authors are involved in, from churches to non-profits to consulting, from podcasts to blogs to other books. I hope you will join in their efforts, as well as considering the variety of other books from OtherWise Engaged Publishing.

Mx Chris Paige
March 2020

OtherWise Christian 2: Stories of Resistance will launch on March 31, 2020. Pre-orders are currently available on Amazon (ebook) and through the publisher. During the month of March, you can also get autographed copies of OtherWise Christian, Christian Faith and Gender Identity, and In Remembrance of Me, Bearing Witness to Transgender Tragedy at regular retail prices, with your pre-order of OtherWise Christian 2!

You can join in the excitement about “Stories of Resistance” by “claiming your story!” Use the #SacredOtherWise hash tags on social media: #TransAndSacred, #NonBinaryAndSacred, #IntersexAndSacred, #TwoSpiritAndSacred or your own variation.

We are also using #ClaimYourStory and #ClaimingOurStories to encourage celebration of our stories of faith and resistance.

You are especially encouraged to use these hashtags on #TransgenderDayOfVisibility / #TDOV on March 31, 2020!

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