I’m Alex Clare-Young and I am a creator, a writer, a member of the Iona Community, an ordained minister in the United Reformed Church and a transmasculine non-binary person. That last bit means that I was labeled as female at birth and have transitioned towards male, and that I now identify outside of the binary genders of male and female. I use the pronouns they/them or just my name. I am currently in ministry in Cambridge City Centre, where I particularly work with those who have experienced exclusion and isolation, including those who have suffered church-related trauma. I am also an associate tutor at Westminster College, Cambridge. As well as this chapter on transphobia, violence and the Bible, I am also currently working on a chapter about trans pregnancy for a volume on pregnancy and theology and on a book, Trans Forming, which arises out of my PhD thesis on trans identities and theology and will be published by SCM Press in early 2024.
For me, there is an inextricable link between biblical interpretation and transphobic violence. I do not only mean transphobic violence perpetrated by Christians. I mean all transphobic violence. That claim rests on the words “You are either a man, or a woman”. Those words, or words like them, are heard regularly by trans people just before a verbal, psychological, physical, spiritual or sexual attack. They can also be found littering our media – print, audio, screen, and social – daily. I was asked yesterday how it feels to be trans when, at the moment, people are debating our existence very publicly all of the time. The reality is that it feels like violence. Those words – man on the one hand, and woman on the other, are not scientifically or historically founded. Rather, they are found in interpretations of scripture. They are not found in scripture itself but in interpretations thereof. That is why I believe strongly in this chapter. It is essential that people of good will continue to challenge the narrow interpretation of scripture that grounds daily violence against trans and non-binary people.
As a trans person, I would rather stay as far away from the topic as possible. It would be safer. As a human being, and particularly as a human being who claims to be a part of the Body of Christ, I cannot ignore this violence or the voices of those who are suffering. That is why I write.
If you are involved in the Bible and Violence Project and want to be featured on this blog, please contact Johanna (firstname.lastname@example.org)