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).
We need your help reaching out to those who are suffering in isolation during this time.
Across our countries and around our world, people are sheltering in place–and many of those places lack grace for the realizations of one’s true identity. Clarity about one’s identity may come in the midst of such seasons when we have a lot of time to think.
It is in precisely a time like this that I, an intersex person who felt forced to pass female, realized that I could no longer–in honesty, integrity, self-understanding–do so. I was housebound for a month with a concussion. At 49, I discovered that I could no longer ignore that truth that I was presenting the wrong direction. Because I had already been a chaplain among the BLTGQUIAetc communities, I had grace for myself.
Today, there are teens and children shut in with families who tell them they are abominations, that God hates them. This is not a theoretical. I have been talking with one–trying to keep him from despair by affirming who he is and reminding him that he is not alone..
Today, there are teens and even adults shut in with their thoughts, wondering what and who they really are–with those same messages swirling around their heads: that they are abominations and that God hates them.
When they start searching online, we must make every effort to speak grace into their situations. We can be the #ShelterInGrace that they need during this time–as they learn their inner truths during this time of physical isolation.
PLEASE join us in creating videos affirming the sacredness of ALL of us.
Here’s what we are asking…
1 – Keep it short, so people can browse easily. We want to make it easy to find a community of support online. This is not a sermon. This is a quick encouragement. Not more than 2 minutes. You can link to additional content in the description and/or comments.
2 – Cut to the chase. Make sure you get to your specific affirmation of gender transcendent people in the first 30 seconds.
4 – Post on social media and tag your video with #ShelterInGrace and #SacredOtherWise. Additional tags might include #TransAndSacred, #IntersexAndSacred, #NonBinaryAndSacred, or other variations of specific affirmation. There are lots to choose from! #FaithfullyTrans, #FaithfullyIntersex, #NoBodyIsShameful, #YouAreNotAMistake, #YouAreLoved, #URLoved, #TransPhobiaIsASin, #TransAntagonismIsASin
I have served as administrative support for the TBTPB project through my role at Transfaith, so I have been watching and waiting on this project for more than a year now. Obviously, J Mase III and Lady Dane Edidi have been working even longer than that on this labor of love! I seriously don’t even have that kind of patience (as you can see by how I’m popping out books), so I have big respect for the way that they have done this work and am confident that the finished project is/will be phenomenal.
While I cannot review the book (yet), I have been only one step removed from their process in several ways and am super excited about the collaboration that it represents, not only by the co-editors, but by all of the contributors. In early 2019, they held a retreat where most of the contributors gathered to discuss the themes of the book. So, even when individuals have written parts of the book, there is a deeper collaboration that preceded that writing.
There is so much heart and brilliance and love … poems and prayers and spells and theological narrative and personal journeys…
The Black Trans Prayer Book: A Performative Documentary explores the lives, reflections, performances, and spiritual journey of the contributors to the Black Trans Prayer Book—a collaborative text, co-edited by J Mase III & Lady Dane Figueroa Edidi, that explores the healing needs of Black trans people.
Here is the Facebook Live with J Mase III (from snowy Seattle from the looks of it!). Since I can’t review the book yet, I want to highlight more of the analysis behind these projects.
[To address] the religious based trauma that we experience all the time… knowing that we have a right to healing, that we have a right to disrupt that type of violence, and that we have a right to hold religious institutions accountable. … to dismantle religious-based violence, and to reframe conversations about what it means to be a trans person (particularly a Black Trans person) and our right to healing.
J Mase III, 1/15/2020
Congratulations to Dane and Mase, to the many contributors, and to all of us who will benefit from this important, ground-breaking work!
“In this invigorating dive into scripture… Paige… reads the Bible in provocative ways… brings to the foreground lesser-known biblical figures… surprising yet plausible… strong and imaginative… This is a treasure chest of resources for those interested in ways transgender individuals can live faithful to God and to one’s self.” Publisher’s Weekly
“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
OtherWise Christian Ambassadors are transgender (or OtherWise) Christians who are available in your local area to share both OtherWise Christian: A Guidebook for Liberationand 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.
This will be a discussion and strategy session about the book, more than a deep dive into the content of the book. We’ll also be talking a bit about the Group Discussion Guide and my newest offering, OtherWise Self-Defense(more on that later!). As a bonus, Louis Mitchell (author of the Forward) will be interviewing me!