Review of The Bible and the Transgender Experience, by Linda Tatro Herzer

The Bible and the Transgender Experience

How Scripture Supports Gender Variance

by Linda Tatro Herzer

The Pilgrim Press, 2016. 126 pages.
Review written May 19, 2020, from a library book
Starred Review

This book is for Christians who want to understand what the Bible says about accepting transgender people. And who are willing to think about interpretation and context.

Now, I am all too painfully aware that some Christians are not willing to think about interpretation and context or the consistency with which they apply principles of interpretation. I have a transgender daughter, and less than a year ago, I left a church with a broken heart because of this issue. Most of the people there had their minds made up, and I wish I thought they’d listen to the words in this book more carefully than they listened to my words. (I did a blog series with the title “Transcending.”)

I’m not going to present all the author’s points, because those points deserve to be heard in their entirety. But she does tackle verses that are used to say that transgender people are sinning and explains why that’s a huge stretch. She also looks at passages that strongly suggest that God wants his people to be accepting and welcoming of gender variant individuals.

I’ve also read and reviewed Transforming, by Austen Hartke, which is another look at this same topic. There is not only one set of arguments, so you’ll get some new ideas and perspectives here. The study guide at the back of the book seems especially helpful, and the author is gentle and instructive for people who don’t know anything about gender variance but want to learn how to be respectful and supportive.

I especially love the way the author closes out the main text of the book (before appendices with information to help you make your own church or group more trans friendly).

On a personal note, I am grateful for the gifts of honesty and courage I have seen manifested by gender variant people. They have inspired me to be as honest as they are about who God has created me to be, challenging me to ask myself, “Who am I vocationally? What are my unique, God-given gifts, aptitudes, and interests? Am I honoring and using them to their fullest? Who am I spiritually? What sort of spiritual practices work best for me, given my divinely created temperament and proclivities?”

Next, gender variant friends and congregants inspire me to live my answers to the preceding questions as courageously as they live their truths. Let’s face it, all of us are subjected to peer, parental, familial, societal, and even religious expectations about how we are and are not supposed to act. So to act in ways that are true to who we are but that may be contrary to people’s expectations of us takes great courage – for all of us! Watching transgender people courageously live their lives has been a huge inspiration to me to exercise the courage I need to live my divinely created truth each and every day.

Given the ways that gender variant people inspire me daily, and all the gifts I have seen them bring to the church and to the world, I close with two prayers.

My prayer for all gender variant people is that you will let the light of your vast and varied gifts continue to shine brightly. My prayer for all nontransgender people is that, in the same way we delight in the dusk and dawn of each new day, may we also celebrate the dusk/dawn light of gender variant individuals and the many gifts they bring to the church and to the world.

Amen! May it be so.

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Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but the views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

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