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Transforming: The Bible and the Lives of Transgender Christians Paperback – April 7, 2018
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Writing as a white, bisexual, transgender man who happens to be a committed Christian, Hartke nevertheless confesses that to this day he feels just a little bit nervous when he walks into any unfamiliar church building. And no wonder, for, as he will point out, many churches in America are less than welcoming to the 1.4 million transgender adults in their midst, a staggering 41 percent of whom will have attempted suicide. In this connection, he points out the importance of finding a supportive faith community. He writes movingly about his own search for such an environment but also offers the perspectives of a wide variety of other transgender people, whose stories he generously shares. Along the way, he writes about such practical matters as definitions of gender identities and what parts of our gender identities are socially constructed and what may be biologically set in stone. He poses many questions about his subject, of course, and finds answers in the Bible, sometimes surprising ones, as his equation of contemporary transgender people with eunuchs, the gender-nonconforming people of the ancient world. He also discusses the corporeal nature of Jesus and extrapolates from that a discussion of embodied theology. But his leitmotif remains the search for a welcoming religious community. It s an informative and illuminating quest, supplemented by an extensive appended list of further reading and resources. This is an important book that fills an urgent need.--Booklist starred review
What a powerful read! Clear, compelling, and profoundly moving, this book should be on the shelf of every pastor, every parent, and every Christian of good conscience who wants to engage the conversation around gender and sexuality with integrity. With the patience of a teacher and the humility of a fellow traveler, Austen Hartke carefully unpacks the terminology, sociological studies, and biblical and theological perspectives that most impact transgender Christians, and combines them with compelling personal stories including his own to point us toward truth. It s rare to find a book that manages to be this intellectually rigorous and this readable at the same time. But then, Austen Hartke is a rare talent, one we are so blessed to call part of the Body of Christ. I ll be recommending this book to friends and readers for years to come.--Rachel Held Evans, author of Searching for Sunday and Inspired
Far too often in the conversations at the intersections of LGBT+ identity and Christian faith, the trans* community has been ignored. Now, with stunning clarity, scholarly insight, and extraordinary vulnerability, Austen Hartke explores trans* identity through the lens of Scripture in a poignant and accessible way that challenges, convicts, and inspires everyone to lean more fully into their God-created identity. This resource challenges false narratives about gender so often promoted in non-affirming spaces and offers richly biblical path forward in our understanding and embrace of trans* individuals into the life of the Church. Transforming is truly a game changer and one of the most important theological books to have been written in recent memory.--Brandan Robertson, Lead Pastor, Missiongathering Christian Church, Author & Editor, Our Witness: The Unheard Stories of LGBT+ Christians
About the Author
Austen Hartke is the creator of the YouTube series Transgender and Christian, which seeks to understand, interpret, and share parts of the Bible that relate to gender identity and the lives of transgender individuals. Hartke is a graduate of Luther Seminary’s Master of Arts program in Old Testament/Hebrew Bible Studies and winner of Luther’s 2014 John Milton Prize in Old Testament Writing.
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If you are a trans Christian, or just a Christian, looking to understand more about those who are so often pushed out or ignored by faith congregations this is an excellent place to start. Trans lives of faith are often misrepresented or ignored in today’s culture and this book could not be more timely for those looking for a deeper understanding beyond the culture wars and media sensationalism. Yes, you can be trans and hold onto the precious, hard-earned faith that gives you and so many others strength and hope.
I particularly appreciate how conscious Austen is about sharing his platform with other trans people, especially people of color. He elevates their stories and in doing so, demonstrates that there is no one "right" way to be trans and definitely no one "right" way to be trans and Christian.
I wish I could convince everyone I know to read this book.
Austen vulnerably shares his story as a transgender male who is also a Christian. Religious circles are not known for their acceptance of minorities. Thank you for your courage, Austen.
From a psychology perspective, I already knew that those who identify as LGBTQIA+ are more likely to attempt and complete suicide. These statistics are a red alert for the culture that we have both in secular and Christian communities. There are people in so much distress that they see suicide as the only way out of the daily tension that they live with over their sexuality, gender identity, or gender expression.
"Transforming" offers a new perspective to Christians who are used to the typical two gendered culture. I am still figuring out what I believe theologically, but research is important and I appreciate Austen for sharing his story. Above all, every person is worthy of love and respect. Transgender Christians who come to any church should be welcomed and loved.
Thanks, NetGalley, for the read.