OtherWise Self-Defense: Because I said so.

Content warning: This series of self-defense posts will necessarily rehearse some trans-antagonistic perspectives for the sake of developing trans-affirming responses.

A lot of trans-antagonistic arguments are not about the Bible at all. They are often about the many cultural assumptions that we bring to the conversation.

On a recent Facebook thread, trolls called me sick and sinful. They argued that I am lying to myself. They acted like they were talking from a Christian point-of-view (talking about heresy), but not once did they actually cite scripture or demonstrate any understanding of the ways of Jesus or the Love of God.

They seemed to rely on the idea that their unilateral proclamations would be sufficient to motivate my submission to their perspectives — or to otherwise condemn, hurt, or silence me (and others like me).

The more I testified about God, Jesus, and scripture, the more it became clear that their argument was basically just “You are not a (real) Christian, because (you are transgender and) I said so.” There wasn’t much substance beyond their confident declarations.

Continue reading “OtherWise Self-Defense: Because I said so.”

Gender Diversity: Muxe

The muxes are a kind of gender diversity found primarily in rural Mexico, specifically in southern Oaxaca among the Zapotec people. They are assigned male at birth, but express themselves in feminine ways. Some muxe identify as men, some as women, and some as simply muxe.

The Zapotec language is gender-neutral, so there is no indigenous reason to force a specific gender on the muxe. The muxe identity is a part of Zapotec culture and does not translate neatly into the assumptions of other cultural contexts. The culture allows for some significant ambiguity in regards the the muxes, which is only amplified by globalization and contact with LGBT organizing outside of the region.

Even the Roman Catholic Church in that region accommodates the muxes. Legend suggests that the muxe are connected to Saint Vicente Ferrer, but muxes are actually believed to pre-date colonization. They play an important role in preparing fiestas.

The acceptance of muxes within Mexico is not universal. Bullying and discrimination remain an issue, despite high levels of acceptance in Oaxaca. Some muxe who have been rejected by their families in other parts of the country flock to Juchitán to experience acceptance.

Life Outside the Binary: Meet Mexico’s Muxe Community Celebrating Genderqueerness (Culture Trip, 2019)

The Third Gender of Southern Mexico (BBC, 2018)

Guardian story (2017):

Compiled by Mx. Chris Paige on October 17, 2019.

Note: This blog is intended to be an on-going work in progress. Please contact us if you have additions, corrections, or concerns.

Our Bible App: Trans and Non-Binary Chat

I’ve reported previously on my new devotional series and Our Bible App. It has been lovely to connect with trans and non-binary folk in the Our Bible App setting.

With the support of CEO Crystal Cheatham, we’ve launched an intentional space in the OBA chat area where trans and non-binary folk can connect with each other. Like many LGBT spaces, trans and non-binary people are in the minority in the OBA community. So it is great to have the support of management to create this space for us to support one another.

Once you download the OBA app, look for the “Let’s Chat” feature. If you identify as trans and/or non-binary, then just ask to be added to the Trans and Non-binary chat room! We’ll see you there!

In this chat space, we brainstormed about an important group agreement that was missing and offered that feedback to Crystal. Now the group agreement is in place for all of OBA.

In a diverse community, things don’t always go perfectly! It makes a difference when those in positions of authority or decision-making are responsive to requests from transgender and non-binary folk in the community! Thank you, Crystal!

Compiled by Mx. Chris Paige on October 17, 2019.

Note: This blog is intended to be an on-going work in progress. Please contact us if you have additions, corrections, or concerns.

Gender Diversity: Hijra

In India, there are centuries of traditions around hijras. Hijras are also called Kinnar, Kothi, Aravanis, Jogtas/Jogappas, Khusras, or Shiv-Shaktis, depending on the community. India is a very large country and conditions vary by geography. Hijras were previously respected as spiritual authorities in the region and frequently played a role in religious and spiritual ceremonies. They are understood to be connected to the half-male, half-female image of Shiva in Hindu teaching.

Language about eunuchs was imported by the British, during the time that the British were colonizing India (19th century). Hijras were criminalized. As a result, hijras were relegated to high-risk and low-paying economies such as dancing, entertainment, sex work, and begging. Hijras survived in part by creating their own communities with other hijras forming their own families complete with parental figures. Continue reading “Gender Diversity: Hijra”

Gender Diversity: Two Spirit

Yesterday, I wrote about gender diversity around the world. “Two spirit” is a particularly important term in North America, but it is still an umbrella term.

Two spirit is a translation of an Ojibwe term, but the English translation was selected by Native Americans in 1990 as a Pan-Native term to be used instead of a pejorative, French word (the b-word) that had been used by anthropologists and other cultural outsiders. Continue reading “Gender Diversity: Two Spirit”

OtherWise Christian: What People Are Saying..

“This is the book that we need.”

The Rev. Terri Stewart

United Methodist Alliance for Transgender Inclusion (UMATI)

“The most exhaustive look at gender non-conforming/trans identities in the Bible that I have seen to date. Informative & accessible.”

Peterson Toscano

Transfigurations: Transgressing Gender in the Bible

“I am excited to revisit familiar characters and narratives with a new OtherWise lens. This is an extraordinary gift to the trans community and to those, whether transgender or cisgender, who wish to go deeper in the texts to see those of us who have been hidden, erased, and/or disparaged.”

The Rev. Louis Mitchell

Executive Director of Transfaith

“…a truly incredible book. Mx Chris’ writing is clear, elegant, and prophetic, and the book’s intertextual readings of scripture and popular culture are very insightful. This book beautifully answers the deepest possible question: how can we imagine and practice our spirituality in ways that are truly just and liberatory, especially as it concerns our gender.”

Cleis Abeni/Upāsikā tree

Transgender elder

“…a wonderful resource… This is a faith text that CANNOT be ignored.”

The Rev. Shanea D. Leonard
Associate for Gender & Racial Justice for the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

“…a brilliant yet down-to-earth, supremely compassionate and practical guide for how religious people who don’t fit binary categories can engage with and draw strength from the Bible… Though addressed to those who identify as Christian… it does a marvelous job of reaching out toward non-Christian religions, particularly Judaism.”

Dr Joy Ladin

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

Gender Diversity Around the World

Wednesday night, we went over Chapter 3 of OtherWise Christian: A Guidebook for Transgender Liberation in my OtherWise Self-Defense course. One of the most common questions I get in readings is about the non-English terms that I list in this section. People want to learn more.

In considering this topic, it is important to be clear that terms from other cultures and languages are almost never an equivalent to “transgender” or other modern terms that are based in a Western worldview. Each term is embedded in a cultural context that has its own assumptions about gender and sexuality–and which may have been influenced in various ways by violent colonization. Sometimes these terms may be considered pejorative in the modern world, even if they were honored identities historically. Continue reading “Gender Diversity Around the World”

Our Bible App

My seven-day devotional series called “Christian Faith and Gender Identity” just launched on Our Bible App (OBA for short). OBA is a progressive, LGBT-inclusive app launched in 2017 that:

started as an alternative to devotional and Bible apps made by large, conservative, and destructive “Christian” media organizations. … These popular Bible apps celebrate and propagate purity culture, weaponizing Christianity to reinforce the “value” of straight, cisgender marriage and dating. Additionally, these apps don’t talk about Christianity’s long entanglement with racism, colonialism, and white supremacy.

Continue reading “Our Bible App”

OtherWise Ambassador: Rev Louis Mitchell

OtherWise Christian Ambassadors are transgender (or OtherWise) Christians who are available in your local area to share both OtherWise Christian: A Guidebook for Liberation and their own stories and testimonies. I believe that books are important, but our communities also need the opportunity to be in real-life community with folk who can tell their own stories.

Louis Mitchell wrote the forward for OtherWise Christian, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that he is also an OtherWise Ambassador! He also authorized to sell copies of the book and you ought to have him sign his forward (though he tries to be shy about that).

Rev Louis Mitchell is frequently in Massachusetts, Philadelphia, Seattle, and Southern California. He travels frequently, so be in touch to find out more about his availability. Reach out to invite him into your community. You’ll be supporting me, the book, and his ministry.

Don’t forget to compensate him for his time with you, if he’s leading an event or preaching in your congregation. His time and expertise are valuable. Continue reading “OtherWise Ambassador: Rev Louis Mitchell”