Trans Theology 101 - the VERY basics

Trans Theology 101 - the VERY basics

Transgender (trans) people identify as a gender that varies from sex assigned at birth. At birth, doctors measure genitalia and say joyously, ‘It’s a boy/girl!’ Life is not that simple! Sex and gender are not limited to genitalia. Trans people often experience social or body dysphoria – an intense discomfort with the gender role that is expected of us, or with our sexed bodies. But we are more than just our discomfort. We think creatively about gender, recognising that there is more to humanity than meets the eye.

I wonder what trans people can teach us about being human and living in a way that images God.

Christian criticisms of trans identities focus on Genesis but they tend to ignore the problems of translation or genre. Criticisms of trans identities also often focus on bodies and surgery. But isn’t being Christian more about how we live on a day to day basis? 

So, more positively, I wonder what trans people can teach us about being human and living in a way that images God. Trans people often feel a sense of God calling them towards transition. We are open to ‘otherness’ and to transformation. We recognise that we are not self-sufficient, we can’t do it alone. Trans people rely on the understanding and skills of others, and the re-creation that is possible in God, to journey deeper into who we really are. We know what it means to question, struggle and doubt; but we also know what it means to be loved, to travel, to listen and to allow God to transform us. 

This has been a whirlwind tour of trans theology, and there is lots more to say, so if you would like to learn more, look at some of the resources below. 

Further Resources

Church of Scotland (2018). Diverse Gender Identities and Pastoral Care. Edinburgh: The Church of Scotland. 

Hartke, A. (2018). Transforming: The Bible & the Lives of Transgender Christians. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press. 

Mann, R. (2012). Dazzling Darkness: Gender, sexuality, illness and God. Glasgow: Wild Goose Publications. 

Alex Clare-Young (they/them) is a trans pastor, activist and educator. They are currently completing their training for ministry in the United Reformed Church. To hear more from Alex, check out their BLOG.

GenderDiverse Church