“The Bible is clear as to the gender identities being male and female. How did we get to genderfluidity, transgender and gender confusion, and the departure from the Word of God and God’s original design?”-The Well Community Church
As a non-religous, queer and trans* nonbinary person of color, I proudly embody everything Denny Burk is so eager to discount and condemn. Perhaps I am not as qualified to speak on “The Word of God” and I must admit I’ve not paid much attention to God’s Plan beyond the summer Drake sang about it. I am, however, ready to refute everything The Well is asserting in violent contention against me and so many others in queer, trans, and gender nonconforming communities. Considering the ways binary gender & gender scripts are enduring artifacts of colonization, I am happy to offer my resilient existence in opposition to the toxic ignorance spewing from The Well.
There is an important difference between sex and gender. While they are semantically and culturally related via imperial projects of classification and control, their conflation points to the inherent fragility of social systems of categorization. We are institutionally assigned sex at birth. “Male” and “female” are two such designations. Gender, indicated by terms like “man” or “woman”, is the codification of behaviors and related scripts hegemonic expectation imposes onto sexed bodies. The correlation of male→man and female→women is not an act of God, it is an act of biopolitics. It is the state sanctioned regulation of bodies and people. The sloppy misuse of language by groups like The Well is a moment that reveals the fragility and fallibility of socially constructed “absolute truths”. I might argue the same about religious veracity.
I may have been assigned female at birth but I certainly do not abide by the expectations Denny Burk requires of biblical womanhood. My nonbinary identity and trans* experience of sex and gender is not an aberration, it is a testimony to the strength queer communities embody. There is no sin in being beyond. Confusion is the byproduct of rigid and narrow definitions. Prejudicial ideologies are a reaction. The panic at The Well is a reminder that the church is often in bed with the state. This lascivious affair demonstrates a shared desire for white, cis-heteropatriarchy. Those of us who thrive betwixt and between, who relish the liminal, and consider that which is both/and beloved are radical revolutionaries. Our very existence is resistance against regimes of power and domination and we challenge the validity of people like Burke. It threatens the systems that bestow their privilege. The Well’s pathologization of the LGBTQIA+ community is an attempt to cling to that power and preserve control of antiquated social and religious narratives. Unfortunately for The Well and Denny Burke, we’re here, we’re queer and our trans* becomings will continue to punch holes in that which is said to already be holy.
Disclaimer: Writer of the article wished to remain anonymous.
Halberstam, Jack. Trans*: A Quick and Quirky Account of Gender Variability. University of California Press, 2018.