Update on OtherWise Christian 3!

I am excited to be working with content for OtherWise Christian 3: What Shall Prevent Me? from Monica Joy Cross, Debra Hopkins, Peterson Toscano, Enzi Tanner, Mycroft Masada, Mir Plemmons, and Renae Taylor already. Plus, I have been in conversation with many more beloved folk who are working on contributions. I am starting to be able to envision the shape of the final volume. However, it is still early and much is in flux!

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New: OtherWise (re)Presents!

Lots of things are going on behind the scenes at OtherWise Engaged Publishing!

Our primary imprint, OtherWise Engaged Publishing, emphasizes reflections with a religion, faith, and spirituality edge. This includes a wide variety of perspectives, including freethinkers, agnostics, and non-theists. Jonathon Thunderword’s From Christendom to Freedom: Journey-Making with a Black Transgender Elder is a great example of that range.

However, there are many stories worth telling, which are not about religion, faith, and spirituality!

We have at least three projects currently in conversation that will fall under our new imprint, OtherWise (re)Presents. This new edge will still emphasize the best and the brightest of OtherWise-gendered people, including transgender, intersex, non-binary, and gender non-conforming folk.

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Are There Pro- or Anti- Transgender Passages in the (Christian) Bible?

Many people will tell you there are no transgender people in the Bible. This is true only insofar as the modern word “transgender” is, well, modern. Reading the Bible is a cross-cultural, cross-epoch (time) encounter. The Bible does not talk about cell phones or email or Zoom. But there’s are lots of admonitions about how we communicate with one another. Similarly, there are lots of gender non-conforming characters in the Bible who are not, technically, “transgender.”

See also: Gender Diversity around the World

Obviously, there is much to be said about the teachings of Jewish and Christian tradition generally, as well as Jesus specifically that apply to transgender people. Yet, skipping ahead to “love your neighbor” is to erase the fullness of what both Jewish and Christian tradition have to say in support of gender diversity. This response mirrors much of my first book, OtherWise Christian: A Guidebook for Transgender Liberation (2020), which was, at some level, written to elaborate these themes.

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Mutual Aid (Part 2): Trust Black People

In Mutual Aid (Part 1): A Message of Love, I (a white person) started a conversation about mutual aid by reflecting on Enzi Tanner’s work in the Twin Cities. Today, I (a white person) want to write more broadly about mutual aid as a white member of transgender communities–while also acknowledging that most of what I know about this topic comes from listening to Black and Brown trans and queer organizers.

(Read The Race Game to understand why I’m talking so much about whiteness.)

Informal Mutual Aid 

In the conversation with my white suburban friend (mentioned yesterday), I, a white person, shared a little about what I have been doing based in pre-existing relationships that I have.

To my mind, it makes good sense to start by giving funds to Black folk who I (a white person) already know who may be struggling. We (especially white folks) don’t need to wait for someone asking for help. We (especially white folks) do not need to announce what we are doing on social media. We can just be generous and ask our friends to use the funds however they think it will be helpful. 

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Mutual Aid (Part 1): A Message of Love

The Twin Cities have seen a string of highly-publicized incidents of police violence against Black men prior to the recent George Floyd incident (2020), including with Jamar Clark in 2015 and Philando Castile in 2016. Black transgender man, Tony McDade, was shot dead by police in Tallahassee, FL a few days after George Floyd was killed. A recent assault against a transgender woman of color named Iyanna Dior in the Twin Cities shook that community further.

These incidents (and others) have led to a number of national movements: to support Black lives, to address police violence, and to acknowledge the particular burden on Black transgender people. Last week, Transfaith posted a statement, Hearing Our Kin: George Floyd, Tony McDade, and our Black Transgender Siblings, which was a follow up to Hearing Our Kin: Trayvon Martin and Our Black and Brown Transgender Siblings, which was written in 2013.

This week, I (a white person) am writing inspired by the work of one of our former board members, who has been a part of Black transgender organizing in the Twin Cities for many years. Enzi Tanner is a Black transgender Jew, who is currently involved in a mutual aid project focused on supporting Black transgender people in his area. He is also one of the voices quoted in our 2013 article.

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Putting Away Childish Things (White Fear and Growing Up)

(Read The Race Game to understand why I’m talking so much about whiteness.)

After I (a white person) published “Grown-Ass White Folk” earlier this week, it occurred to me (a white person) that fear is another developmental angle that has something to do with well-meaning white folk “growing up.” My proposition was that we, well-meaning white folk, are often immature in how we respond to white supremacist events in society.

Meanwhile, events in Minneapolis have escalated alongside white reactivity–both from the police state and from arm chair critics. So let’s think about white fear as a developmental issue.

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The Race Game (2020)

Grown-Ass White Folk need to be able to talk about whiteness. Full stop.

I (a white person) proposed “The Race Game” [source: Thandeka’s Learning to Be White: Money, Race, and God in America, 1999] to a (majority but not exclusively white) planning committee for an event in 2003. My proposal was dismissed as naive and too radical.

However, I (a white person) remain convinced that “The Race Game,” as uncomfortable as it may be, is an essential step in beginning to deal with white supremacy. To me, it seems like a baby step on the path to becoming “Grown Ass White Folk.”

We (especially, but not exclusively white people) must make the invisible visible, so we (white folk) can better grapple with what we find within our (white) selves when we do.

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Grown-Ass White Folk

Alternate title: Growing Up — Well-Meaning White Folk and the American Dream

As I write this, we are in another cycle of processing white people behaving horribly. This time it is a white woman in NYC Central Park invoking police violence and actual police violence in Minneapolis. But it could be a Black man jogging, a Black woman studying, the police in Indianapolis, or any other city. These incidents are no longer going unnoticed, under-reported–at least not in some social media networks.

However, it is not just acts of violence against Black folk, Indigenous folk, and other People of Color that show us where we are as a white supremacist society trying to become the ideal that Black civil rights leaders, in particular, have been pushing us towards.

White folk responding to incidents of anti-Black violence also shed a light on our so-called progress.

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Across Generations: OtherWise Binary Breakers

So, I had a delightful time talking with Avery Smith of Blessed Are the Binary Breakers. They couldn’t quite get me to stop talking, so the outtakes will actually comprise a second episode another month out! But meanwhile, I am featured on Episode 22, which you can download wherever you listen to podcasts.

  • I was dismayed listening to find that I have not yet eliminated the word “crazy” from my casual conversation. So trigger warning and apologies for some ableist language on my part.
  • Avery has also provided a transcript of the conversation.
  • If you’re still adapting to the whole podcast thing (like me), then Google Podcast is accessible in any old web browser.
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Podcast: Blessed Are the Binary-Breakers

In these strange times and as I come down off of the intensity of 3 book launches this year (In Remembrance of Me, Bearing Witness to Transgender Tragedy, OtherWise Christian 2: Stories of Resistance, and From Christendom to Freedom), I am finally getting my technology organized for listening to podcasts more regularly.

In addition to my long-time favorite Bible Bash, I have started listening to the Blessed are the Binary-Breakers podcast. The first episode features the podcaster, Avery Smith, themself (interviewed by their partner), but then most of the following episodes are lovely interviews with a variety of transgender folk of various spiritual backgrounds.

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