They/Them or Non-Binary Gender–What does it mean?

Ok. So you understand how to use pronouns and why they matter. Often, people still have more questions specifically about they/them-singular pronouns. Some of these questions are strictly grammatical questions and others are really getting at questions about what non-binary experience is more generally.

The resources that I have collected for this post focus on what they/them singular means as a personal pronoun. If you run through all of the videos, you’ll have about 68 minutes of content, but you can also jump around to pick which personalities resonate most with you.

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Gender and Social Pronouns!

Diversity is fabulous! AND jumping right into a truly diverse classroom without any preparation for what we might find is kind of a set-up for (unintentional) conflict and harm.

While we cannot prepare for everything that might come up, it’s definitely useful to have some context for working around gender diversity. With this blog entry, I’ve gathered a few basic resources that I recommend for thinking about gender and pronouns in social settings (like a classroom or a workplace). The 4 videos will take up a total of 12 minutes of your time (and will let you hear the voices lots of different transgender people talking about our lives).

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Introductory Pedagogy Behind They/Them Singular

Entering theological education as a non-binary person is… awkward. In my context at a progressive seminary, it’s not that people are necessarily mean. It’s that many of them have very limited experience with someone like me.

New Student Orientation Needs

In my opinion a general purpose introduction to they/them pronouns in progressive/liberal education needs to do three basic things.

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TDOR and Black Transgender Women

As we approach Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR) yet again, I will join the chorus once again about centering Black transgender women. So, in this post, I want to share some resources that shed light, specifically, on the lives of Black transgender women and why they are so frequently the victims of violence.

In other words, this isn’t about planning TDOR. This is about gaining understanding about the context for why TDOR is the way it is–that is, why it is important to center Black transgender women in a substantive and not performative way.

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If your organization is new to Transgender Day of Remembrance…

As I enter higher education again, I’m aware of how Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR) is still a new thing in some communities. It’s a difficult “holiday” to observe appropriately. In fact, I went so far as to write an article on why you might NOT want to host a Transgender Day of Remembrance event (Transfaith, previously Believe Out Loud).

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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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