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Transforming: The Bible & the Lives of Transgender Christians

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In 2014, Time magazine announced that America had reached “the transgender tipping point,” suggesting that transgender issues would become the next civil rights frontier. Years later, many people—even many LGBTQ allies—still lack understanding of gender identity and the transgender experience. Into this void, Austen Hartke offers a biblically based, educational, and affirming resource to shed light and wisdom on this modern gender landscape.

Transforming: The Bible and the Lives of Transgender Christians provides access into an underrepresented and misunderstood community and will change the way readers think about transgender people, faith, and the future of Christianity. By introducing transgender issues and language and providing stories of both biblical characters and real-life narratives from transgender Christians living today, Hartke helps readers visualize a more inclusive Christianity, equipping them with the confidence and tools to change both the church and the world.

225 pages, Paperback

Published April 7, 2018

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About the author

Austen Hartke

4 books53 followers
Austen Hartke is the author of "Transforming: The Bible and the Lives of Transgender Christians," a new book on theology and personal narratives, published by Westminster John Knox Press in 2018. He is also 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. Austen is a graduate of Luther Seminary’s Master of Arts program in Old Testament/Hebrew Bible Studies, and is the winner of the 2014 John Milton Prize in Old Testament Writing from the same institution. As a transgender person of faith, Austen's greatest passion is helping other trans and gender-non-conforming people see themselves in scripture.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 163 reviews
Profile Image for Emma.
224 reviews2 followers
February 10, 2018
As a cisgender person who no longer attends church or is religious, I'm not really the target audience for this book, but I was curious as to what the author had to say. The book is well written and engaging; I read it all in one go. From his time at Bible college and conversations with other trans christians, the author makes a case for the kind of loving, inclusive and life-giving community that I always wished church could be when I used to attend.

In a time when trans people are at huge risk of mental health problems, discrimination and violence, the church- especially the religious right in America- has been right at the forefront helping cause these problems. This book explores the potential for the church to be loving and accepting of minority groups, as Jesus was, and gives real life examples of the benefits which abound when churches live up to this potential, both for trans christians and the church as a whole.

The book would be useful for any christian, trans or cis, whether they know a lot about gender studies or if they feel they have little knowledge of trans issues or how to be supportive and affirming to fellow christians who are trans, or trans people interested in attending or joining their church. The author explains gender related terms which people may be unfamiliar with and addresses both the passages which are often used against trans people (he calls them "clobber passages") and also goes beyond this to explore biblical parallels for trans people's experiences and the way they can and should be welcomed in to the church to enjoy community and abundant life that Jesus promised.

There is a section at the end with practical advice for churches looking to be more inclusive, cis allies looking to help educate their church and make it a more welcoming place for trans people, and for trans people on how to find a safe and supportive church to join. This last section is very US-centric, but hopefully future editions will include suggestions from readers in other countries too.

[Free ARC from Net Galley]
Profile Image for Josh.
1,025 reviews18 followers
May 8, 2018
This book attempts an impossible task: arguing that the Bible is in support of trans gender ideology. The arguments from Scripture are either poorly made, or nonexistent. Still, this book will help you understand the author’s experience and can at least serve to increase empathy and compassion for those of us who disagree with the entire premise of the book.
Profile Image for Josiah Hatfield.
71 reviews2 followers
September 28, 2019
Excellent book exploring transgender Christians and their experience within Christian spaces. Author Austen Hartke is a biblical scholar and utilizes those skills throughout while also smartly including a story of a transgender Christian in each chapter. (Good introductory book for those new to the subject of transgender topics as well!)
Profile Image for Brooke Scott.
72 reviews19 followers
May 12, 2018
This is the beginning of a very important conversation in churches. I met Austen at a conference this year and he is just as charming and vulnerable with his story as he seems—a true gift. His writing is MEATY with a lot packed in, but it is impeccably conversational. He even attempts to incorporate the voices of trans people of color, who contend with MULTIPLE layers of oppression. The book begins like a crash course on sex versus gender, which I felt like I had a pretty good grasp on. But then he moves into the details of how various Scriptures have been wrongly interpreted and how God is moving the church towards full inclusion of LGBTQ+ persons. His exegesis is beautiful and you can tell he has really done his homework. For individuals who need an introduction to this topic or are trying to reconcile gender identity and faith, this is a must-read.
I will be recommending this book for a long time.
Profile Image for Monika.
508 reviews146 followers
March 3, 2018
Austen Hartke has an easy, conversational style whether he's inspecting Scripture and its historical and cultural contexts or sharing personal stories. Hartke includes conversations with and the experiences of other trans and nonbinary Christians, which ends up giving the book a truly intersectional lens (and that is vital when discussing about trans issues).

Transforming is honest about the ways the church has failed trans and nonbinary folx and the challenges they face. Cis readers will gain insight and hopefully, empathy. But Hartke's infectious optimism combined with plenty of positive experiences shared give the book a hopeful, "share the good news!" tone throughout.
Profile Image for Heidi.
480 reviews23 followers
August 3, 2022
This book was an excellent primer about the struggle for trans inclusion in churches, and it provided a thorough, but readable, explanation of trans-affirming theology. I wanted a little bit more from it, but that's only because I come from a seminary background and I am always down for a good theological discussion. That said, this book is so accessible that I would recommend it to absolutely anyone, especially if you're currently a part of a faith community. Books like these are so important in subtly reframing the narrative toward more justice and inclusion within church spaces. Such a good read!
Profile Image for Kit.
107 reviews22 followers
December 19, 2019
So, this destroyed me in the best way possible. I'm thinking a lot about faith-- expect to see many more books on Christianity and other religions in the near future-- I saw this book at the library, and I thought it would probably be a good entry point for me, since I am so openly and almost aggressively trans in every area of my life. The beginning of the book enumerated the ways in which churches and individuals have used theology to harm lgbtq people and made me question why I picked up a book like this in the first place, why I was considering joining a faith community at all. In spite of knowing quite a few queer Christians (it's what happens when you go to a school with Saint in the name), I was reminded of the general bigotry I unconsciously associate with Christianity, which prevents me and many others like me from engaging with faith. At best, it seems like many Christians are blissfully ignorant of social issues, walking away from church services that command them to love their neighbors without seeking to understand their neighbors' perspective. At worst, it feels like an institution that actively encourages hateful practices. But Hartke spent the rest of the book debunking hateful rhetoric with their own theological analysis, supported by other progressive Christians' analysis. He even interviews other trans Christians with different identities-- different genders and races, primarily-- because he understands that his perspective is not universal or monolithic. I found myself moved way more than I expected to be, especially as someone who hasn't been personally rejected or affirmed by a faith community. It was incredible to hear interpretations of the Bible that affirmed the existence of people like me, interpretations encouraging radical love and bravery on the part of lgbtq Christians and their allies. It made me want to come out to the few but highly significant people in my life who don't quite know just how queer I am. From my limited understanding of the Bible, Hartke's positions seemed reasonable and defensible. His writing, in terms of unpacking both gender identity and the Bible, was highly accessible, although it seemed like he assumed a slightly greater knowledge of the Bible than I actually have (which might make sense for a book with Christians as its primary audience). If you have the vaguest idea that this book might be for you, I highly recommend that you read it.
Profile Image for Skye.
4 reviews
July 26, 2022
An excellent and important read. Would highly recommend

From page 109:
"What would the church be like if we just accepted people for who and how they were, and loved them there first, before anything else?
When a church is trans-affirming, transgender Christians can show up as themselves, unapologetically. By doing that, they show everyone else in the congregation that it's all right to bring their whole selves into the community, that nobody has to "fake it 'til you make it" as a perfect Christian.
This kind of authenticity is especially important to younger people, who often see the church as hypocritical and believe that being a churchgoing Christian means that you put on your fake smile alongside your Sunday suit"
Profile Image for Kim.
84 reviews
December 13, 2021
This is a book I would recommend to everyone. It's very good, well written, and left me wanting to read it again more deeply and thoughtfully immediately after finishing. As a trans guy who isn't really sure what he believes in, I highly recommend this book.
Profile Image for Emily✨.
1,562 reviews30 followers
March 24, 2023
This was a surprisingly easy read. Hartke kept the tone light and conversational, even when discussing heavy, emotional topics. Hartke provides quotes from interviews with other trans/non-binary (including Two Spirit) Christians, scholars, and ordained ministers throughout Transforming, which makes it wonderfully intersectional and inclusive.

It is… affirmation and shared narrative that can give transgender Christians the courage to carve out a space for themselves in a global church that often ignores or actively persecutes them. To know that you belong to a God who gathers the outcasts and who commands doors to open... this is the kind of love that leads to liberation. (99)

The balance between academic bible study and personal stories was perfect, in my opinion. The writing was never dry or stuffy, but I still learned a lot. Hartke really dives into the cultural and historical context of the bible verses he discusses, with a fascinating focus on eunuchs. I had never thought of eunuchs much (they weren't taught on much in my church growing up), so thinking of them as the nonbinary gender of biblical times was eye-opening. And he didn't shy away from the "clobber passages"-- scriptures used to discredit the idea of any sexes or genders beside male and female.

[Genesis 1:27] does not discredit other sexes or genders any more than the verse about the separation of day from night rejects the existence of dawn and dusk. (51)

I had serious emotional reactions to Hartke's affirming interpretation of several Bible stories. Even as a white cisgender woman, the freedom that Hartke finds in the Lord and in the Bible was so heartening; I can only imagine how this reading experience must be for trans Christians. The sections on Isaiah, Phillip and the Ethiopian, and Jacob Wrestling the Angel were especially enlightening and engrossing. And "Chapter 10: Even Jesus Had a Body" was so body positive and liberating from the old Christian idea that "the flesh" is inherently sinful.

[The image of Jacob wrestling with God] is incredibly familiar to transgender Christians who have spent a portion of their life grappling with their faith and their gender. Sometimes we have to fight to have our gender recognized, and sometimes we fight to be seen as Christians, and sometimes it feels as if we’re just holding on to God with both hands and refusing to let go until God gives us something. (82)

Overall, I highly recommend this book if you're looking for a trans-affirming biblical interpretation but don't want something overly academic. The back of the book has lists of incredible resources, including ways to find inclusive Christian communities. Transforming is not only about how transgender and nonbinary individuals belong in Christian spaces, but that they have important viewpoints to bring to the table that makes those Christian spaces richer and more complete.
Are we called to sameness, or are we called to oneness? (161)
Profile Image for Ryan Dillon.
6 reviews1 follower
August 12, 2018
I was looking forward to this book. I thought I might actually get a strong biblical argument for an "affirming" stance on this issue. I knew a bit about Hartke prior to reading this from an interview in a podcast and felt sure that I would be given some level of thorough biblical exegesis that would provide a strong challenge to the non-affirming stance (admittedly my own position). However, I was extremely disappointed. I was met primarily with the rhetoric of identity politics, emotional appeal from personal testimony and the testimony of others in the LGBTQ+ community, and more disappointingly than everything else, biblical exegesis (read: eisegesis) that was run through the horrible hermeneutical grid of personal experience and testimony of others. If you want a book that will tickle your trans-theology-affirming itching ear, look no further. If you are looking for a strong, exegetical and academically rigorous and honest approach to this important and timely issue...look elsewhere.
Profile Image for Justin.
701 reviews11 followers
August 31, 2018
Questions related to transgender issues are at the forefront of the next big conversation the church is having. Hartke's book provides a good starting point with a blend of personal experiences (from a number of people) and some exegetical work.

The personal experiences were more compelling, helping to put narratives to and actual people into the discussion. The exegesis raised plenty of interesting ideas but sometimes seemed to miss the main purpose of the given passage.

The book's worthy of a wide read, both by those affirming and those non-affirming, and Hartke's clear writing and fast pace make it a good entry point.

[Based on a NetGalley copy.]
Profile Image for J.L. Neyhart.
414 reviews146 followers
July 30, 2022
This is a great resource for anyone who is wrestling with theology around transgender people and is wanting to understand and learn more. Highly recommend.
Profile Image for Nikayla Reize.
57 reviews12 followers
January 15, 2022
This book is so beautiful and rooted in a celebration of God's goodness. Hartke is thoroughly biblical, warmly pastoral, and I was both challenged and consoled. It's short and easy to read.
Profile Image for Tommy.
51 reviews
July 29, 2022
A very nice little book. However I kinda doubt how much it would change the mind of someone who wasn’t already open to having their mind changed
40 reviews1 follower
September 9, 2021
Note: I listened to an audio version, so cannot provide page numbers at this time.

Book positives: there are quite a few personal stories and experiences told. It is important to understand where people are coming from, particularly people who self identify as trans. It is also interesting to hear how conservatives are heard and seen by people who self identify as trans. I further appreciated that the author did try to deal with texts and not only stick with experiences.

Disagreements: This book is steeped in critical theory and intersectionality. This approach to life and Scripture is founded in a Hegelian and postmodern hermeneutic. There is an assumption of conflict theory or a hermeneutic that looks at so called hegemonic power and tries to dismantle it. I fundamentally disagree to that approach, but it is too much to expound upon here. Carl Trueman’s The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self is a good place to begin.

The author’s entire argument depends on the trans identity not being against natural law (ie how God made us). The author makes the argument based in the Hegelian use of Aufheben, a method in which a truth is negated in order to make a new synthesis. In this case, the author negates the assertion that God made them male and female by saying “not all.” This is done by pointing to things in creation such as the sunsetting (neither day nor night), the beach (neither land nor water). However, the fact that man and woman were made for each other in Genesis and have only part of a reproductive system that can only be completed with the complementary sex in order to fulfill the creation mandate to fill the earth…is not discussed. Nor is the idea of male and female originally created to find deep meaning and communion in the other, is not discussed. In other words, objecting “but not all humans were created male and female” seems to already assume the conclusion without actually making a text based argument. The author therefore does not adequately deal with why one should reject Mark Yarhouse’s view, ie that gender dysphoria is a result of the fall.

The biggest arguments based on logic seem to be based on studies. Unfortunately, the studies done on trans issues are woefully lacking and do not provide the highest certainty of evidence needed to make strong treatment recommendations or even that a full on affirmative approach is good for gender dysphoric people. (For instance, https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1...). It is therefore not incumbent on Christians to affirm a treatment approach or partake in political activism, especially when the evidence is not clear that affirming trans identities or transitioning is good—not to mention, the theological and philosophical concerns already mentioned.

What I found most troubling, however, is how the author seems to be using an emotional appeal to sway readers. It seems at points the author is basically saying that Christians have to affirm trans people otherwise they are being unkind and unloving; that they are being oppressors rather than siding with the oppressed; or that this approach is necessary for trans persons’ mental health. However, Christians are called to be faithful. If Scripture in fact does teach the sacredness of male and female and a particular teleological purpose male and female persons were created to fulfill, as well as speaks against purposely harming one’s body, then Christians cannot affirm trans identities even while fully loving and valuing the person, made in God’s image, who is suffering with gender identity concerns. A person can always be affirmed as of innate value to God, but gender identity is a completely new so-called “identity” that is not grounded in creation but rather on modern and postmodern conceptions of selfhood (see Trueman’s book, mentioned above).

The author does not deal with any of the most solid arguments and concerns against trans identification but rather uses arguments rooted in intersectionality and conflict theory, faulty interpretations of Scripture, and enthusiasm (the root of all heresy) to argue for an affirmative and political activist approach to transgender concerns within churches. This is why I gave the book two stars: the underlying assumptions the author had going into writing the book were never addressed, and therefore it came off as rather unconvincingly argued.
Profile Image for John.
376 reviews10 followers
July 12, 2019
In his book, Transforming, Austin Hartke pours onto a few hundred pages the stories of Transgender Christians and their interaction with the sacred Christian text, gender identity, faith, doubt, and living and finding space in a spiritual community. Without a doubt, it is an important essential read for anyone that has not explored the issues surrounding the trans-community. Though having been an advocate for many years I found the first 3 chapters extremely helpful in providing a basis of language and words to help understand and clarify the conversations surrounding transgender and other LGBTQ communities.
Without a doubt, Hartke is a student of modern Biblical scholarship and his love for the Bible and God are evident throughout the text shared with his love for understanding and educating those of us that are simply not deeply knowledgable about trans-issues.
The book is thoughtful, clarifying and vulnerable. Hartke has interviewed many people and shared their stories while educating from the pulpit of trans-theology. Though I appreciate Hartke's voice I will admit I noticed some real leaps in thinking that didn't follow a strong hermeneutic. Interestingly, enough Hartke also warns against the prevailing notion of apologetic defense. SO there is the intertwining of both understanding and empathy toward Hartke, and yet the desire for a stronger argument in some places. But ultimately this book is more than articulation and apologetic, it also is a guide for people like me that struggle and try to understand other viewpoints.
There were some chapters that after reading I was so moved by the ideas (Ethiopian Eunuch, Jesus has a body too, and others) that I was able to really develop a sense of experiential understanding and empathy. I fully believe anyone that wants to explore the intersection of trans-issues and religion needs to read this book.
Profile Image for Victor Lu.
217 reviews1 follower
February 3, 2021
A beautiful theology that not only includes but celebrates the diversity of trans people in the church. While it makes many theological points, it does not have an apologetic feel. It also includes the perspectives of different trans, nonbinary, and genderqueer Christians and describes some of their ministries and struggles.
Profile Image for C.J. Heid.
177 reviews5 followers
June 7, 2021
This book is filled with trans-affirming theology from gender-expansive pastors and christians and it explains transness in a christian light in a way I've never seen. This book is now filled with highlights and annotations, and I hope to share it with my family. I've never felt so understood and welcomed.

Profile Image for Krista Stevens.
948 reviews15 followers
March 1, 2021
Really great text to help anyone, but especially Christians, learn about those who are transgendered as well as how to look at Biblical texts that are applicable. Great responses to Mark Yarhouse in chapter 3. Quick read...lots of stories that really make this a book that is hard to put down.
Profile Image for Thomas.
42 reviews6 followers
March 1, 2022
There is no conflict between being yourself and loving God, as this book so wonderfully says, they are not mutually exclusive! Powerful anecdotes from people in real life as well as being backed up by scripture.
Profile Image for Cricket  Z.
62 reviews4 followers
June 23, 2021
I think this is required reading for all religious professionals, but especially those working in Christian settings. It is even more important foe those working with youth.
March 17, 2022
Very good. It helped give me words to my jumbled thoughts and so much information to be an ally AND a Christian.
Profile Image for Andy Hickman.
4,614 reviews36 followers
May 1, 2019
Transforming: The Bible & the Lives of Transgender Christians by Austen Hartke

What a fantastic book. Austen speaks with wisdom, grace, clarity and hope. As a heterosexual cisgender male married priest I am recommending this to others!

“.. I learned from Jesus , who after his resurrection chose to show his body to the disciples – a body that was scarred and transformed, and yet still his own.” (p.2)

“Biologically, I learned that the world isn’t separated distinctly into land or sea; there are also marshes, estuaries, and coral reefs.” (47-48)

[Genesis 1:27] does not discredit other sexes or genders any more than the verse about the separation of day from night rejects the existence of dawn and dusk. (51)

“Renaming is as old as language … example(s) of someone being given a new name to illustrate a new identity. ‘And Moses changed the name of Hoshea son of Nun to Joshua.’ (Numbers 13:16) (76)

“Hagar, the slave of Abraham and Sarah .. meets an angel of God inn the wilderness in Genesis 16. Verse 13 says, “So she named the LORD who spoke to her, ‘You are El-roi’ for she said, ‘Have I really seen God and remained alive after seeing him?’ El-roi in Hebrew means ‘God sees’ or ‘one who sees.’ In this case, Hagar is not changing God’s identity; she’s giving a new name to recognise the identity that God already has.” (77)

“When we look at stories of renaming in the Bible, we often find that a character is handed a new name they never asked for. While I'm sure Abraham treasured the new name and promise God gave him, and while Peter probably felt honored in the moment Jesus proclaimed him the bedrock of the church, not everybody comes by their new name so easily. Some people have to fight for it.” (81)

[The image of Jacob wrestling with God] is incredibly familiar to transgender Christians who have spent a portion of their life grappling with their faith and their gender. Sometimes we have to fight to have our gender recognized, and sometimes we fight to be seen as Christians, and sometimes it feels as if we’re just holding on to God with both hands and refusing to let go until God gives us something. (82)

It is… affirmation and shared narrative that can give transgender Christians the courage to carve out a space for themselves in a global church that often ignores or actively persecutes them. To know that you belong to a God who gathers the outcasts and who commands doors to open... this is the kind of love that leads to liberation. (99)

Eunuchs are spoken of by Jesus in Matthew 19:11-12. The eunuch in Acts 8:32-35 “was poring over scripture and teasing out answers because he had to in order to survive as a gender-nonconforming, racially marginalised, royally subjugated person outside the bounds of the faith he sought to join.” (123)

“It was the first time I’d ever experienced liturgy, and it was weird and wonderful. What really got me was the communion table. They said, ‘Everyone without exception is welcome to the table.’ And I went. Not thinking much of it, but then, every single week I found myself thinking, ‘I need to go back.’ Not because I felt a sense of duty or obligation, but because I felt it sustaining me. I felt hungry for going through the line and getting the Eucharist again. I felt like it was holding my life together.” – Asher (p133)

“The foundation of Christian theology is the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Yet seldom is the resurrected Christ recognized as a deity whose hands, feet, and side bear the marks of profound physical impairment.” (138) [from Nancy Eiesland, author of, The Disabled God: Towards a Liberatory Theology of Disability]

“There are two ways to interpret what Paul says in Galatians 3:28 about our being one in Christ: either it means that we're all whitewashed and homogenized and our differences are erased... or it means that we're called to find a way to make our different identities fit together, like the bright shards in assorted colors that make up the stained glass windows of a cathedral. Are we called to sameness, or are we called to oneness?” (161)

Again it is worth highlighting, “Are we called to sameness, or are we called to oneness? (161)

“There are times when I think Christians need to see ourselves more in the ninety-nine sheep who stayed put, and ask ourselves if we may have been part of the reason that the lost sheep got lost in the first place.” (168)


“The thing is, we can't be in right relationship to each other if we can't see each other. We can't be fully present in any relationship if we're walling off part of ourselves or hiding beneath a mask.”

“It might seem daunting to a congregation to have to learn about pronouns, or to designate a bathroom gender-neutral, or to have difficult conversations about what it means to affirm LGBTQ+ identities. But transgender people are not a burden for Christianity, or for the church. They come bearing gifts!”

“But charting our identities along a line in two dimensions has its limitations; namely, it doesn't accurately reflect the human diversity we observe. We don't see each other, or ourselves, in only two dimensions, and bisexual and nonbinary advocates are suggesting that it's long past time to update our ideology. Perhaps, instead of insisting that each person can be charted along a line, we should be looking up and seeing the multitude of sexualities and gender identities that exist in 3D, sprinkled through space like the stars.”

“What God was giving the eunuchs, through Isaiah's proclamation [56:3-8], was not just a place in society, and not just hope for a future. By giving the eunuchs the same kinds of gifts given to Abraham and Sarah--a name, legacy, family, acceptance, and blessing--God was consciously associating the two stories in the minds of the people. God was giving the eunuchs a story to connect to--a story that set a president, grounded in divine grace. That was the story I needed to hear. I needed to know that my problems were like the eunuch's problems, which were like Abraham and Sarah's problems, and that all of these complications were overcome by God's great love.”

“...If Jesus came to bring abundant life to all who follow him, that means that transgender Christians should be able to stop spending every single bit of their energy defending themselves against those 'clobber passages,' in order to concentrate instead on becoming better disciples. We should be able to move from survival practices to thriving faith. Jesus didn't come to make things marginally more bearable. He came to give us abundant and eternal life.”

“Nobody talked about it.” When M was in high school, they joined some friends who attended a youth group at a large nondenominational church in town. Rather than pews, M found comfy chairs and couches. Rather than hymns, there were praise songs. It felt as if faith was springing up fresh and new, and M took to it like a duck to water. Near the end of high school they began to discern a call to ministry, but the church M was now attending didn’t approve of women in ministry; so, as someone assigned female at birth, M hit a brick wall. “I was told, ‘Women can’t be ordained.’ So it took me two years, even when I was read as a cisgender straight woman, to overcome that basic gender”
37 reviews2 followers
October 12, 2020
This book wasn't nearly as earth-shattering as I was anticipating it to be, and I think that's ultimately a good thing. Austen strikes a good balance of introducing new ideas but also remaining grounded in core theological concepts. Many readers who haven't encountered topics of gender/sexuality in theology will feel pretty much at home in this book, as Austen offers new sound theological insights on passages most would deem "common."

As a cisgendered person, I found this book to be a good starting point on 1) educating myself on issues transgender folks wrestle with everyday 2) connecting theology to the LGBTQ+ community, and 3) informing me on what I can do to support that community.

I'd recommend this book to pretty much anyone, even people who are a bit skeptical about how transgender identities mix with Christianity.
Profile Image for AJ Nolan.
778 reviews9 followers
January 4, 2023
Beautiful and confirming book that engages not just with the “apologetics” of theology and reading and interpreting the trans message in various Biblical stories, like that of the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts, or various Psalms or Galatians 3:28, or Isaiah 56, but also looks beyond defense to various places that affirms the trans experience, like name changes, and the necessity of moving from “survival practices to thriving faith” (148). He looks at how much the trans experience can offer the church community, relating it to the Matthew story of the 1 lost sheep being necessary to reunite with the flock to make it whole. Along with textual analysis use of research, he also draws on his personal experience as a trans man, and also lots of interviews with various trans people of faith. Well worth the read both for those who are trans and for any Christian.
Profile Image for Hannah Comerford.
165 reviews8 followers
January 5, 2021
I'm glad I read this book, as it brought me a perspective I have not heard nearly enough--that of transgender Christians. It helped me understand their viewpoints better and find new ways to love transgender individuals.

My issue with the book itself is that it felt like Hartke was approaching his arguments and biblical research deductively; rather than coming to conclusions from multiple biblical textual examples, it felt like he came to the Bible with his conclusion already. Of course, we all do this to a certain extent, so I don't want to be too harsh on him. I also don't think he did it maliciously and maybe not even intentionally. This could also be the effects of trying to cram biblical research into such a short book. Finally, my takeaway could be affected by the fact that I read this via audiobook, which isn't my best form of learning.

That said, I am very thankful for the references Hartke provided, and this book has encouraged me to keep studying this issue for myself while actively analyzing my own biases and attitudes toward transgender individuals.
Profile Image for Stevens.
43 reviews2 followers
December 9, 2021
Where do I start? There maybe be enough for me to write a short book on in response, but I will do my best to be succinct.

First, I will say that I enjoyed this read so much more than I expected to. That's usually the case with books that others recommend I read. Without knowing anything I took on this book and it gave me great insight, both as a general reader, but more specifically, as a Christian reader.

I can agree with the book, in at least from what I have seen in the Christian community, that as the body of Christ (Christians), we can all do better with the transgender community. As Christians, God's infallible word calls us to be Christ like; in a nutshell, loving, caring, and present. As Christians, we are not always all three, and if we are any combination that is not all of these three, all the time, we can do more damage than good.

So, brothers and sisters, let's keep educating ourselves as we strive and work to be better Christians so that God can use us to reveal himself to others inside and outside our Christian community, but also inside a distorted Christian community. I'll leave that there for now.

Transgender Christians. Is this something that exists, or an oxymoron. Both. Transgender Christians exist in the same way that adulterant Christians exist. They are Christians that genuinely struggle with a specific sin more than with others. The difference with the two is that one can sometimes be easier to conceal. Other times, not so much and when our sin is revealed and made public, we feel shame. These "Christians" may also just be people on their way to true repentance. Also, everyone is a Christian now a days. That is because Christianity is so misunderstood and misrepresented. So that being said, Transgender Christians DO exist.

Why Transgender Christians DO NOT exist, or at least cannot exist for long? Simply put, Christianity demands repentance; METANOIA (Greek), meaning "change in one's way of life resulting from penitence or spiritual conversion". So, by definition, Christianity, at least biblical Christianity, demands change. True repentance demands immediate radical change, where you may or may not struggle with your toughest sin later, and you may fall again in it, or never again. But a true Christian runs from sin, dies to himself, and submits himself to God; essentially being born again. So, a transgender Christian does not exist, the same way that an adulterant Christian does not exist, or one that constantly lies. That is because a person that truly repents moves more towards the Christ like side of the spectrum and does not stay stagnant or revert to her old ways.

The other thing I noticed is that the author, who studied theology, took scripture and found a way to fit it to the transgender narrative. The author took verses and parables and and made it fit transgenderism instead of seeing how transgenderism fits with the bible. The author transformed the bible instead of letting the bible transform her.

To be more specific, the author says, “I believe God made all of me—gender identity included—and intended for me to be a transgender person who sees the world through a different lens. I don’t think God made a mistake. I think God made me transgender on purpose.” The author also references Galatians 3:28, "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus." With this and other things mentioned in the book the author assumes that this is a greenlight to be transgender and still be actively Christian. In contrast, what Paul is actually reiterating here is that while we are all not the same, we are one. The same way when a man and a woman marry, they become one. This does not imply that gender is irrelevant since we each have our roles. "Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them." This first implies that there are two genders that God created. Second, that the image of God we are made in, is in spirit.

Without getting deeper into this my biggest take a-ways are how Christians need to be better at treating people outside Christianity, even those who claim to be Christians, and that people misrepresent Christianity to say what they mean because it makes them feel better. The bible is very clear on who will go to hell; liars, cheaters, adulterers, murderers, blasphemers, the sexually immoral, amongst others, and most definitely those that reject the truth in Christ Jesus. It does not matter how good of a person you think you are, if you are not dying to yourself and submitting to Jesus of biblical Christianity, then you are not living for God, you are living for yourself. It does not matter how you are born, or how you feel inside, that is why true repentance only comes from being born again.

I recommend Christians read this so they can have a better idea of how misrepresented Christianity is in the world, and how important it is for us as Christians to educate ourselves in these matters so that we can love others in the way Christ loves us.
Profile Image for Sara Baysinger.
Author 5 books52 followers
February 5, 2022
Great read. If you are a trans/nonbinary person who grew up in the church and always felt a *little bit* rebellious against god for your gender identity, this book is for you. Hartke brought me from a place where I felt like god tolerated me, to a place where I felt like God rejoiced in my identity. A place where I felt like God created me this way and loved me for who I was from the beginning.
Profile Image for Andrew Blok.
366 reviews2 followers
July 23, 2019
It's been a while since I've read this book, but I remember it being eye-opening and generous. I better understand the experiences of transgender Christians than I did before. I am grateful to Austen Hartke for being such a kind, generous and clear voice.
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