In chapter 11 of OtherWise Christian: A Guidebook for Transgender Liberation, I use “transgendered” as an example of the way the meanings of words can change over time.

When I started exploring my gender identity in 1998, we were saying “transgendered” (among other things), but somewhere around 2006 “best practices” evolved and that particular word went out of style.

I reference some reflections by Julia Serano on related topics. She gives meaningful treatments on a number of fronts, which I recommend:

In particular, I reference that first article and the dynamics around “word-sabotage” and “word-elimination” campaigns that Serano brings up.

I agree with Serano that dismissing another person’s word choice out of hand is problematic, even as I respect efforts to develop coherent “best practices.”

My treatment in OtherWise Christian is necessarily abbreviated because these nuances are only relevant insofar as I am wrestling with the nature of language used for gender diversity over time (e.g. eunuchs). Serano’s book Outspoken includes much of this materal and may be worth your time if these topics around modern language intrigue you.

The bottom line is that word meanings change over time. A word that is perfectly acceptable at one point may be anathema at another. This is true even before we get to dynamics like colonization that may demonize certain aspects of a culture as a way of discrediting the opposition.

Understanding these historical shifts are important when we look at contributions from the “transgender spring” and books like Omnigender or Trans-Gendered, which use language that was appropriate at the time, but which might be dismissed out of hand today.

As I was pulling together yesterday’s post and this (unedited) interview footage with Kate Bornstein and Leslie Feinberg from an In the Life episode (1996), which touches on the development of language and the role of the internet in transgender organizing.

Compiled by Mx. Chris Paige on September 25, 2019.

Note: This blog is intended to be an on-going work in progress. Please contact us if you have corrections or are able to contribute further context or reflections.

Finding Our History; Outlaw (1994)

I am just so delighted that this popped up on my Facebook feed. Leslie Feinberg is one of the three OtherWise Prophets who I specifically acknowledge in OtherWise Christian: A Guidebook for Transgender Liberation. However, their impact is mostly tangential to my (first) book and so they only appear in the preface and acknowledgements. Still, this video shows just a glimpse of how Feinberg tilled the soil of history for all of us.

Continue reading “Finding Our History; Outlaw (1994)”

Open Hands, Fall 1996 issue

The Open Hands, Fall 1996 issue marks the beginning of what I calling the “transgender spring“–a season of blossoming interest in transgender faith experience.

This issue was truly a landmark for expanding the conversation around transgender experience. The one and only outside, faith-based resource cited was The Cross and the Crossdresser by Vanessa S. [sic]. It was not an oversight. Faith-based conversations about transgender experience were almost non-existent in 1996 outside of deeply hidden networks of transgender people (at the time, “TG/TS” for “transgendered and transexual”).

Continue reading “Open Hands, Fall 1996 issue”

The Cross and the Crossdresser: Personal Reflections on Crossdressing from a Christian Perspective, 1993

In 1993, Vanessa Sheridan’s 48 page book, The Cross and the Crossdresser: Personal Reflections on Crossdressing from a Christian Perspective, came out.

Standing on its own, The Cross and the Crossdresser precedes the “transgender spring” entirely as a ground-breaking work. By 1996, this little book was still the only outside faith-based resource listed in the Open Hands fall 1996 issue (though Vanessa’s 1996 Cross Purposes: On Being Christian and Cross-gendered) was mentioned in her bio. Continue reading “The Cross and the Crossdresser: Personal Reflections on Crossdressing from a Christian Perspective, 1993”

Transfaith Online, 1999

TransFaith Online began as a personal project of Mx Chris Paige in 1999.

The launch of TransFaith Online was a critical turn in networking for transgender Christians–an early step in what I am calling the “transgender spring.” Despite many years of neglect, TransFaith Online eventually became the #1 Google search result for “transgender Christian.”

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Mx Chris Paige

Mx. Chris Paige (pronouns they/them) was the publisher of The Other Side magazine when they published the ground-breaking May/June 2001 issue on transgender concerns, featuring Chris together with Virginia Mollenkott and Erin Swenson.

In 1999, Chris launched a small Angelfire (free-hosting, like GeoCities) website called “TransFaith Online” which many years later evolved into an organization called Transfaith, which is a widely known resource for transgender people of diverse spiritual and energetic practices.

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