Blessed Are the Binary Breakers
By Avery Arden
Join seminary graduate Avery Arden as they converse with transgender persons of various religions about their experiences with faith and gender. Discover the wonderful diversity of gifts and wisdom that trans people offer their communities.
Find episode transcripts at blessedarethebinarybreakers.com/podcast
Find episode transcripts at blessedarethebinarybreakers.com/podcast
Embracing “Messy” with K Kriesel — a chaplain & textile artist who blends Catholicism, Wicca, & queerness
K Kriesel (they/them or she/her) is not afraid of "messy," with a spiritual life that blends Catholicism and Wicca, and holds space for time adrift. K has broken away from a variety of groups that proved too limiting to uplift the most marginalized, including any feminism that prioritizes white, cis women. As they search for a spiritual community built with people like them in mind, K serves as a chaplain and creates the kind of queer Catholic art they want to see in the world. You can contact K and view their work at kkriesel.com or @kkrieselart on Instagram or Facebook. Click here for an episode transcript. Click here for K's Google Doc of Nonbinary spiritual resources. Talking Points: 0:00 - Intro material 4:01 - K's youth: moving from an abusive Catholicism to a more open version, with room for Wicca 9:34 - Studying feminist & queer theologies; grappling with the limitations of feminism — too white, cis, upper class 21:42 - K's gender journey — comfort characters as a kid; claiming lesbian as their gender 25:07 - Coming out, and breaking away from spiritual community until they can find one that's been structurally non-gendered from the start 27:51 - Experiences as a nonbinary chaplain — including some advantages to being openly queer 38:34 - Time for Catholic griping! Disillusionment with feminist Catholic organizations for prioritizing white, cis women 48:48 - And yet...the things K still cherishes about Catholicism — not the bureaucracy, but the traditions 58:54 - K's art! Family support; creating the queer Catholic art they want to see in the world _______ Blessed Are the Binary Breakers is part of the Rock Candy Podcast Network. Find more shows at www.rockcandyrecordings.com. This show's theme song is "Aetherium" by Leah Horn. This episode also makes use of "The Encouragement Stick" by Doctor Turtle.
November 01, 2022
"The Good Kind of Weird" — Ynza Morgan Star: Genderqueer, Pagan, & so much more!
After growing up Southern Baptist and pressured to conform to gender norms, it took time for Ynza Morgan Star (she/her & zey/zeir) to live fully into her genderqueer, agnostic, pagan, game designer self. In this episode, Ynza shares how neurodivergence and the power of story have shaped her journey; how zey crafted zeir own name; how zey joined zeir local Unitarian Universalist fellowship; and so much more! Content warnings: lots of discussion about conservative Christianity and transphobia, including the intense policing of a child’s self-expression. There are also brief mentions of dementia and parent death. Click here for the episode transcript, which includes links with info on various discussion points throughout. Talking Points: 0:00 - Intro, including Avery's visit to Ynza's UU fellowship 6:54 - Overview – gaming, pagan-inclined Unitarian, didn’t realize trans till 40s 18:20 - Earliest memories – gender policed by adults; refuge in stories with gender transformation 23:56 - The Oz stories – queer is “the good kind of weird” 27:50 - Cognitive dissonance in Southern Baptist beliefs; witnessing the radicalization of conservative Christians 35:25 - From Republican to Democrat, while wrestling with the two-part system 38:28 - Protected by neurodivergence that rejected the idea of being broken, couldn't accept the cognitive dissonance 46:45 - Coming out to parents as pagan; years later, coming out to them as trans & a lesbian — very mixed reactions 57:40 - Name change! Crafting a new first name; keeping middle name; finding a meaningful last name 1:11:40 - Wrestling with the idea of Christianity being viable for queer folk 1:18:38 - The beautiful broadness of the term transgender; should we bring back the term transsexual too? 1:24:16 - Wrapping up with some recommendations: Whipping Girl by Julia Serrano; Dr. Roger Ray's Progressive Faith sermons; the Best of the Left podcast; and the Making Gay History and One from the Vaults podcasts _______ Blessed Are the Binary Breakers is part of the Rock Candy Podcast Network. Find more shows at www.rockcandyrecordings.com. This show's theme song is "Aetherium" by Leah Horn. This episode also makes use of "Gold Beamer" by Mother Hood.
September 30, 2022
Joseph and the Amazing Original Neuroqueer Pride Flag (Crossposted)
This episode is a slightly abridged version of part 1 of the Neuroqueer Joseph series over on The Autistic Liberation Theology podcast. Be sure to visit Laura's podcast for parts 2 & 3 once you've finished this episode! My friend Laura and I explore all the queer + autistic elements of Joseph's story, starting with Genesis 37. Joseph wears makeup and the colorful dress of a princess, toe-walks, and dreams dreams that threaten the status quo — a queer and neurodivergent figure if there ever was one! Why did Joseph’s world — and why does ours — view such a person as threatening? What gifts do neuroqueer folk bring to their communities when empowered to do so? Content warnings: discussions of transphobia & anti-autistic ableism, bullying, familial violence, hate crimes. Click here for an episode transcript. ______ Timestamps: (0:00) Introducing the episode (4:24) Introducing Joseph of Genesis, term "neuroqueer" (9:00) Rabbi Ruttenberg's article; Midrash about Joseph & Dinah (12:05) Genesis 37:1-11 & Joseph's neuroqueerness — Joseph's coat; Joseph as "na'ar" or youth; naivety, dreams... (27:31) Genesis 37:12-36 & Why the brothers can't tolerate Joseph — the danger of dreams to toxic masculinity, primogeniture (39:45) Being visibly neurodivergent or queer is dangerous; passing or hiding yourself; Joseph's toe-walking (44:00) "Flavors" of violence in this story — macho escalation; Jacob as fair-weather ally; transgenerational traumas (49:45) Wrapping up; last bonus clip — Joseph was a hottie who wasn't attracted to women _______ Further Reading: - Article: "(Gender)queering Joseph" by Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg - Book: Was Joseph on the Spectrum? - Sermon: "Joseph Comes Out — Genderqueer Thriving, Reconciliation, and Centering the Margins" - Webpage of articles about trans Bible figures, including Rebecca, Jacob, Rachel, and Joseph - Sermon: "Jacob and Esau — Imagining beyond Ourselves" - Podcast ep on Rebecca: "Gender Diversity Pre-patriarchy" _____ Blessed Are the Binary Breakers is part of the Rock Candy Podcast Network. Find more shows at www.rockcandyrecordings.com. This show's theme song is "Aetherium" by Leah Horn. This episode also makes use of "Dreamer" and "Theme 1" by Jeremy SH Griffith.
August 12, 2022
Refuting TERF/anti-trans rhetoric with Leslie Feinberg
Avery reads more passages from Leslie Feinberg's 1996 work Transgender Warriors — this time ones that respond to the same tired arguments people have been making against the trans community for decades now. How do you respond when someone insists that women's spaces shouldn't include trans women, that drag queens make a mockery of femininity, that trans women have male privilege? Feinberg offered concise, helpful answers years ago that can help us continue the good fight today. Click here for an episode transcript, which contains source links. Talking Points: (0:00 - 4:30) Call for stories + introducing the topic (4:31 - 10:14) Resisting biological essentialism when defining womanhood – "biology is not destiny"; no universal experience (10:15 - 13:14) Masculinity isn't inherently toxic + drag queens don't make a mockery of womanhood (13:15 - 20:23) Do trans women have male privilege? — Laverne Cox's view + Feinberg's additions (20:24 - 25:14) Making women's spaces safe for all women — there are no high-risk groups, only high-risk behaviors (25:15 - end) How anti-trans rhetoric harms everyone and the need for solidarity _____ Blessed Are the Binary Breakers is part of the Rock Candy Podcast Network. Find more shows at www.rockcandyrecordings.com. This show's theme song is "Aetherium" by Leah Horn. This episode also makes use of "Gold Beamer," "Can't Find," and "Lately" by Mother Hood.
July 17, 2022
Leslie Feinberg on Trans Liberation & Solidarity
Avery reads excerpts from Leslie Feinberg's Transgender Warriors. Though the book was first published in 1996, the history it relates could not be more pertinent. In the shared passages, Feinberg emphasizes how we must not only demand and win but also defend our human rights. The fight isn’t over until systems that deny us our rights are also overthrown, and every single person is free. Click here for an episode transcript. You can read Transgender Warriors for free online. Talking points: (0:00 - 4:48) Introducing Leslie Feinberg and Transgender Warriors (4:49 - 15:42) Resisting divide-and-conquer tactics, fighting to win and keep trans rights and all rights 15:43 - end) Wrapping up — send Avery your thoughts, fears, responses to current events
June 30, 2022
"We’re in this for the liberation” — More from Rev. Krissy on transforming the Church
UCC pastor Rev. Krissy imagines a Body of Christ that moves beyond the institutional Church. We are called to confront corruption and power, and to unite in solidarity with all who work towards liberation. This is a bonus clip from a larger conversation; check out episode 54 — “Coming Back to Life: Rev. Krissy is a Politically Queer UCC Pastor" — for more of Krissy's story and wisdom. Find Krissy at rev-krissy.tumblr.com; or visit their church website: www.epiphanyucc.org Click here for an episode transcript. Talking Points: (0:00 - 3:45) Intro material (3:46 - 7:30) Pushing congregations to reimagine belonging — uncertainty is welcome; all who will work with us for liberation are welcome (7:31 - 12:40) "You want to know why people are leaving the church?" — church as an institution isn't what matters (12:41 - end) Resisting fundamentalism, literalism, and biblical translations that uphold empire ______ FURTHER READING - Interfaith Worker Justice - "Labor Rights in the Jewish Tradition" - “What is biblical inerrancy? What does it mean to say the Bible is literally true?” - "American Christianity's White Supremacy Problem" ______ Blessed Are the Binary Breakers is part of the Rock Candy Podcast Network. Find more shows, at www.rockcandyrecordings.com. This show's theme song is "Aetherium" by Leah Horn. This episode also makes use of "Gold Beamer" and "Can't Find" by Mother Hood.
May 31, 2022
Marginalized Bodies as Spectacle & the Good News in Jesus's Disabling Wounds
In Jesus, God rose with wounds that would have impaired his mobility and fine motor skills. In John 20, Jesus allows his disciples to gaze at his impaired body, and even lets Thomas touch his wounds. Let's explore how this story connects to the complications of marginalized bodies being put on display for public consumption — of being made into a spectacle. Is it possible for marginalized persons to have any agency in how our bodies are viewed and interpreted? How does Jesus model possibility for his disciples, similar to what Laverne Cox calls trans possibility models? How have marginalized persons identified with the wounded Christ across the centuries? Content Warning: brief, undetailed mentions of hate crimes, transphobia, ableism, antiblackness, fatphobia ___ Part of this episode explores an art piece by Elisabeth Ohlson Wallin — a photograph of Jesus with top surgery scars — that you can view here. Or view it and other images, with image descriptions, in the episode transcript. The episode also draws from S. Bear Bergman's 2021 article "Please Come and Be Fat." The episode ends with Rebekah Anderson's meditation "The Body of God." A previous episode of this podcast also delves into the John 20 story of Jesus and Thomas through a trans and disabled lens — episode 40, "Goodness Embodied: An Intersex, Nonbinary First Human and a Disabled Risen Christ." If you want to watch the sermon that this ep is based off of, visit here. ___ TALKING POINTS: (0:00 - 3:36) - Introducing the topic: based off a sermon; Jesus's disabling wounds & marginalized bodies as spectacle (3:37 - 6:30) - Affirmation of Faith in God the seamstress, the wounded Christ (6:31 - 9:59) Introducing & reading John 20:19-29 (10:00 - 15:59) Identifying our experiences with Christ's — medieval labor pains; Jesus with top surgery scars (16:00 - 21:52) - Possibility models: proving it's possible to be trans and successful & happy; Jesus proving there is life after suffering & death (21:53 - 23:51) - Jesus on the cross was forced to be a spectacle; the resurrected Jesus has regained his agency, chooses to share his wounds (23:52 - 26:10) - "Blessed are those who haven't seen and believe" — parallel with a friend's chronic illness & being believed (26:11 - 29:18) - risking vulnerability — visibility politics in trans & disabled communities (29:19 - 33:48) - The risen wounded Christ proves once and for all that what the world calls shameful & broken is not incompatible with the divine (33:49 - end) - "Imagine the body of God...God has every ability, and every disability in the world" ___ Blessed Are the Binary Breakers is part of the Rock Candy Podcast Network. Find more shows, such as Magnified Pod, at www.rockcandyrecordings.com. This show's theme song is "Aetherium" by Leah Horn. This episode includes clips from “Dreamer,” “Theme 9,” and “Mod 5,” by Jeremy SH Griffith; as well as "Can't Find" by Mother Hood.
May 02, 2022
Queering the Cross, Tomb, and Resurrection
Now are the days that God lies dead — the God who, in dying, expressed ultimate solidarity with all who have been unjustly killed across the ages. Let's explore how various queer theologians between 1993 & 2006 — plus some trans poets more recently — have connected Jesus's Passion, death & burial, and resurrection to LGBTQ experiences. CONTENT WARNING: graphic depictions of hate crimes, including the murders of Matthew Shepard & a (fictional) Argentinian trans woman; deaths of gay men with AIDS; uses of dated LGBTQ+ language; mentions of religious homophobia Click here for an episode transcript (works cited at the end). Avery invites you to check out their YouTube video exploring theologies of the cross; and to revisit last year’s Good Friday and Easter eps: they’re episodes 39 and 40 here. Talking Points: - (0:00 - 4:35) Intro: different theologies of the cross; connecting Jesus’ Passion to contemporary LGBTQ experiences - (4:36 - 6:01) A poem on the cross by Slats Toole - (6:02 - 10:30) Queering the Beloved Disciple - Robert E. Goss - (10:31 - 12:17) Poem by Keaton St. James: “A Portrait of John at the Last Supper” - (12:18 - 16:59) Maxwell Lawton’s 1993 painting “Man of Sorrows: Christ with AIDS” - (17: 00 - 20:59) Jesus & Matthew Shepard: Redemption comes in what comes after - (21:00 - 27:39) The cross as solidarity; Avery’s poem “Your death was nothing special” - (27:40 - 37:46) Blamed for their own deaths: Jesus & LGBTQ+ Argentinians - Marcella Althaus-Reid - (37:47 - ) Lingering over Holy Saturday; Avery’s poem - (42:10 - 48:28) Easter - Jesus comes out; God’s queer surprise – Thomas Bohache & Goss - (48:29 - end) “Gay Angels?” Rolling back the stone - Rev. Nancy Wilson & Rev. Daniel Smith _____ Blessed Are the Binary Breakers is part of the Rock Candy Podcast Network. Find more shows at www.rockcandyrecordings.com. This show's theme song is "Aetherium" by Leah Horn. This episode includes clips from “Dreamer,” “Theme 1,” “Theme 6,” “Mod 4,” “Dreams,” “Mod 5,” “Camilla,” and “Theme 3” by Jeremy SH Griffith. “The Circles I Went Round In” and “Beaconsfield Villas Stomp” by Doctor Turtle are also used.
April 16, 2022
Making Space for Gethsemane: two disabled & trans theologians discuss what people in pain actually need
For Holy Week, Avery joined Laura Sommer on their Autistic Liberation Theology Podcast to discuss two Gospel stories through a disability theology lens — with some trans theology sprinkled in: John 12's account of Mary of Bethany anointing Jesus; and Mark 14's telling of Jesus' Agony in the Garden. Our world does not teach us how to face discomfort and pain healthily: we avoid, dismiss, or deny it; or we blame the one suffering; or we jump to action even when there are no easy fixes. In Bethany, Mary teaches us the art of simple affirmation and tenderness in the face of another's suffering. In Gethsemane, Jesus shows us the power in taking time to lament, to complain, to rage, to question — to feel whatever emotions come — when we are the ones in pain. Read along with the episode transcript here. For the unabridged episode, listen on Laura's podcast here, where the episode is titled "The Gethsemane of things." Talking Points: - (0:00 - 4:52) Introducing the topics – making space with Jesus for fear and grief; chronic pain - (3:22 - 9:33) First story: John 12:1-8 — reading; discussing Judas – it’s fine to ask questions - (9:34 - 13:53) Hierarchy of luxury — judging the spending of poor & disabled persons, activists - (13:54 - 15:31) Mary had to use oil on Lazarus’ body not long before; now she can use it on Jesus while he’s still alive to appreciate it — Trans message: “Give us our roses while we’re here” - (15:32 - 17:19) Avoiding inspiration porn; diluting people’s message after their death — MLK, Jesus - (17:20 - 24:29) Mary affirms Jesus’s identity and mission when no one else does — versus avoiding, blaming, denying, or trying to fix disabled persons’ pain; our culture doesn’t teach us how deal with discomfort - (24:30 - 28:20) The oil will follow Jesus through his suffering; comfort to Mary as well; it’s hard to feel helpless as the person suffering or the person watching that suffering - (28:21 - 33:49) Second story: Mark 14’s Gethsemane story; comparing the disciples’ sleep to coping with reality by shutting our eyes - (33:50 - 40:38) Jesus took the time and space to sit with his grief; disabled people deserve to grieve their own experiences without it “betraying the cause” — allowed to camp a while in the Gethsemane of things - (40:39 - 42:40) Community members who affirm your experience make all the difference; it makes sense that it’s the women who “get” Jesus because they know what it’s like to have their pain & reality dismissed - (42:41 - end) Wrapping up __________ Blessed Are the Binary Breakers is part of the Rock Candy Podcast Network. Find more shows, such as Bible Bash, at www.rockcandyrecordings.com. This show's theme song is "Aetherium" by Leah Horn. Other music used in this episode: "Mod 4" and "Mod 5" by Jeremy SH Griffith.
April 12, 2022
What's in a Name Change? — How I became Avery Arden and made it through the legal process
Avery brings their wife on to reminisce about Avery's name journey — from picking out Avery several years ago, to choosing new middle & last names in time for the legal name change process. Why is that process so dang complicated and expensive? Why was "Banana" ever on the table for surname options? How does Avery honor their family & faith roots with their new name? And what do Avery, Cher, & Sasquatch all have in common?? Listen — or read along with the episode transcript — to find out! Talking points: (0:00 - 7:11) Introducing Leah, Avery's new full name; discussing Avery's nicknames growing up (7:12 - 10:20) When a family member chooses a new name; advice for any parents about their kids' names (10:21 - 20:27) Picking the name Avery, process of telling it to Leah, family, church, teachers (20:28 - 24:45) Picking a new last name (Banana??!) (24:46 - 30:16) Why Raphael for a middle name — archangel, name of Avery's church growing up (30:17 - 37:16) A little rant about deadnames getting shared on school rosters, doctors' offices — a deadname is like a haunting (37:17 - 45:37) The legal process! Announcing your petition for name change in the paper like it's the Old West; waiting on clerks and judges — who can choose to make it even harder on you if they want to be jerks (45:38 - 49:15) More on the name Arden — from Shakespeare's play As You Like It, where the Forest Arden is a place for gender hijinks and freedom from social norms (49:16 - end) Wrapping up — Leah's incredible sign-off ——— Blessed Are the Binary Breakers is part of the Rock Candy Podcast Network. Find more shows, such as Bible Bash, at www.rockcandyrecordings.com. This show's theme song is "Aetherium" by Leah Horn.
March 30, 2022
O Beautiful Dust — Lenten Prayers & the Gospels’ genderqueer water bearer
In O Beautiful Dust, RW Walker explores what difference traditional, queer, and Christ-centred common prayer might make in a chaotic and divided world. Avery had the honor of narrating the audiobook put out by Squirrel House Publishing — and they're offering A FREE COPY of that audiobook to the first 10 people to email them for it! Listen to the episode (or read along in the transcript) for more details. In this episode, Avery shares 6 of the over 40 prayers contained in O Beautiful Dust — and offers some cultural context behind one of those pieces, which explores the story of the gender non-conforming water bearer to whom Jesus sends his disciples shortly before the Last Supper. Visit https://obeautifuldust.carrd.co/ for all the links for where to purchase RW Walker's book, as well as for info about the author, narrator, and publisher. (This page is still being updated as more purchasing links go live in the coming days.) And if you want to watch Peterson Toscano's film Transfigurations: Gender Outlaws in the Bible, click here! Talking Points: (0:00 - 2:13) Baha'i fast & Christian Lent (2:14 - 7:10) Introducing RW Walker and his book, O Beautiful Dust; Avery as narrator of the audiobook (7:11 - 12:47) Historical context for the first poem — the gender nonconforming water bearer of the synoptic Gospels (12:48 - 14:00) Poem 1: "Carrying Water" (14:01 - 16:05) Poem 2: "God's Reputation" (16:06 - 17:22) Poem 3: "My Delight Is in You" (17:23 - 19:15) Poem 4: "Help Us to Be Wise" (19:16 - 20:50) Poem 5: "When I Grow Up" (20:51 - 22:32) Poem 6: "Jesus, Be with My People" (22:33 - end) Wrapping up
March 18, 2022
Coming Back to Life — Rev. Krissy is a politically queer UCC pastor
Like Lazarus resurrected by Jesus, Rev. Krissy has moved from a stifling tomb — a church where they could not be openly queer & politically active — into the abundant life of authentic self and fighting for the liberation of all. Krissy is a pastor and chaplain in the United Church of Christ who loves their supportive spouse, children, and church; and who sees a message of good news for all whom the world calls shameful in the parable of the father with two sons (i.e. the parable of the prodigal son). Click here for an episode transcript. Talking Points: (0:00 - 4:54) Introducing Krissy — UCC pastor and chaplain in St. Louis (4:55 - 8:36) Krissy's family: a supportive spouse who doesn't get gender in general; supportive adult children (8:37 - 11:08) The United Church of Christ: variety of beliefs; full participation of neurodivergent persons & people with mental illness (11:09 - 14:50) Past work at a conservative suburban church where they couldn't be out; seminary friend who affirmed Krissy's queerness (14:51 - 18:22) Lazarus coming back to life; Krissy coming back to life with a queer-affirming, social justice oriented congregation (18:23 - 21:03) Made for freedom vs. constricting pulpits & gender boxes (21:04 - 29:06) "Queer" as a radical liberationist term; "slurs" are our shields & power sources; passing unnecessary (29-07 - 38:32) More on Krissy's ministry: chaplain for children with trauma; politically active church (38:33 - 43:21) Encouragement in a messy, suffering world (43:22 - 51:16) The parable of the man with two sons (i.e. the prodigal son) — letting go of social cleanliness & honor (51:17 - 54:11) "It's about coming back to life" – the good news in Christianity for oppressed peoples (54:12 - end) Breaking down barriers, drawing the circle wider Find Krissy at rev-krissy.tumblr.com; or visit their church website: www.epiphanyucc.org ______ Blessed Are the Binary Breakers is part of the Rock Candy Podcast Network. Find more shows, such as Bible Bash, at www.rockcandyrecordings.com. This show's theme song is "Aetherium" by Leah Horn. This episode also makes use of "Gold Beamer" by Mother Hood.
February 16, 2022
Naming Faith — Eric Sharp is a Pluralist Agnostic & Systemic Therapist
I sit down with my fellow seminary grad Eric Sharp (degree in Marriage & Family Therapy) for the story of how he came to call himself a Pluralist Agnostic who draws from Womanism and Postmodernism. On the way, we also discuss: the power of swearing and of playfulness; appreciating many truths in place of one Big Truth; and bringing healing into a broken world — with plenty of laughter as we go. Click here for an episode transcript. Content Warning: swearing; discussions of mental illness, addiction, and suicide ideation; of abuse and neglect and trauma, including among children; of sex; and mentions of the Holocaust, hell, and religious homophobia Talking Points: (0:00 - 8:00) Introducing Eric: Systemic therapist; cis, white, with gay as his "teeny-tiny window of oppression" (8:01 - 14:25) Eric's childhood: crushing on his best friend & on Jesus; pressure to choose between gay and God; lonely (14:26 - 18:20) Meeting our spouses; Eric's college experience — befriending atheists who seem to live love better than his Christian friends (18:21 - 21:52) "I love swearing!"; post-college therapy jobs (21:53 - 27:01) Entering seminary as openly gay & agnostic; one problem of agnosticism: "I didn't know how to claim what I knew" (27:02 - 29:14) Basing therapy interventions in processes of love, affirmation, community; suicide prevention must go beyond hotlines (29:15 - 34:36) A class on "Biblical Interpretation after the Holocaust"; believing you have The Truth is dangerous — many truths, many ways (34:36 - 41:10) ACES and counter-ACES — the power of one safe, caring adult, and of playfulness (41:11 - 48:26) The Good Place as a sacred text; "The Story of the Seven Blind Mice" — agnosticism (48:27 - 54:16) Heaven and hell are here on earth — we can reduce the hell and cultivate heaven; breaking down isolation & scarcity (54:17 - 59:20) No broken people; divinely created people dropped in a broken world, injured but capable of bringing healing (59:21 - end) Wrapping up — send me feedback & ideas! Eric practices therapy at Best Life Mental Health Services in Louisville, Kentucky. ______ Blessed Are the Binary Breakers is part of the Rock Candy Podcast Network. Find more shows, such as Bubble & Squeak, at www.rockcandyrecordings.com. This show's theme song is "Aetherium" by Leah Horn. This episode also makes use of "Gold Beamer" by Mother Hood; as well as a brief clip from The Good Place.
January 31, 2022
Revisiting Nativity: Was Jesus born in a barn or a house, and why does it matter?
Sometimes the stories we think we know by heart are the ones most worth revisiting, and examining from new angles. In this episode, Avery focuses on a version of the Nativity that will likely be new to many of you: one in which the Greek of Luke 2:7 is translated differently to imply that Jesus was not born in a stable because Bethlehem's inn was full up, but rather was born right in the heart of a peasant home. As they explore the Nativity from different angles, Avery shares several poems that invite the reader into various versions of Jesus's birth, familiar and unfamiliar alike. Their hope is to help us all learn how to embrace the beads of truth within each different telling of the tale, discovering how contradiction need not mean conflict. Click here for an episode transcript. Talking Points: (0:00 - 7:46) Introducing versions of the Nativity story — listening for what's actually in Luke 2 (7:47 - 11:18) Questioning the Greek word kataluma in Luke 2:7 — an inn, or a guest room? (11:19 - 19:15) Cultural context: Joseph's ties to Bethlehem; hospitality; the layout of an ancient Judean home (19:16 - 21:50) Poem 1: "the in-laws you acquaint yourself with first...are in-law hen and cow..." (21:51 - 26:19) Reading this "new" version through a liberationist lens: emphasizing hospitality; celebrating the generosity of Jesus's fellow poor (26:20 - 28:42) Poem 2: Jesus does not wait for us in his designated corner — he bursts into our bustling, compels us to make room in our mundane mess (29:42 - 31:52) Closing thoughts on why all this matters (31:53 - end) Poem 3: "Nativity Beads" — rosary meditations; 5 versions, all pregnant with a little bead of truth
December 24, 2021
The Binary Breaking Transness of Jesus — Clip from an interview with Joseph Peterson
I was honored to be invited onto Kings and Queens, a podcast hosted by Joseph & Nicole Peterson, to talk about Jesus through a trans lens! The full episode is over on their podcast and includes more of my own personal story as well. For more about the Petersons, visit www.thepetersons.cc. For a transcript of this episode, click here. Talking Points: (0:00 - 3:30) Intro (3:30 - 11:28) Pastoring people into conversations about trans Jesus — why does the idea shock or offend many people? Normativity conflated with morality (11:29 - 14:18) Ideas of gender in Jesus's time and place; Jesus's gender nonconformity: no wife and kids; Mother Hen (14:19 - 19:35) Jesus closeted, coming out; his deep desire to be known by those he loves (19:36 - 23:40) Eunuch Jesus! — happily accepts association with those his world called sexually deviant; reclaiming slurs like eunuch or queer (23:41 - end) Jesus's transition story: genderless divinity entering finite humanity, assigned male at birth Further Reading: - blessedarethebinarybreakers.com/nt — "Assigned Male at Incarnation: An Intersex and Transgender Jesus" - https://blessedarethebinarybreakers.tumblr.com/tagged/trans+jesus — varied posts about Jesus being trans - Ep 40 of this podcast — "Goodness Embodied: An Intersex, Nonbinary First Human & a Disabled Risen Christ" - Ep 32 of this podcast — "A Queer Nativity: God's transition; Mary's trans-gressive yes; and Joseph's trans-formation into an ally" - Some of Avery's liturgy and poetry that speaks to a transgender Jesus — https://binarybreakingliturgy.com/?s=trans+jesus - Short sermon on trans Jesus — https://a-queer-seminarian.tumblr.com/post/166432404438/i-was-happy-to-be-part-of-this-years-lpts-more - Chris Paige's book OtherWise Christian ____ Blessed Are the Binary Breakers is part of the Rock Candy Podcast Network. Find more shows at www.rockcandyrecordings.com.
December 14, 2021
Numinous Names: Stories of name changes across genders, cultures, and faiths
Let's hear some stories from various people — trans & cis, Jewish, Christian, & Sikh — about how gender, faith, and culture have played a role in the names they use. How do names isolate us, or connect us; harm us, or heal us? And what does religion teach us about honoring one another's chosen names? Click here for the episode transcript. Talking Points: (0:00 - 6:40) Introducing the topic; part of Avery's own experience (6:41 - 9:45) Judaism: biblical name changes, honoring new names (9:46 - 18:03) Eli's story: how the prophet Elijah helped Eli choose their name (18:04 - 22:36) Adrian's story: finding the right name; "dark richness" (22:37 - 26:19) Mychel Vandover's story: a renaming ceremony in a supportive church (26:20 - 30:16) Name changes in religious orders: Buddhism & Catholicism (30:17 - 33:40) Sister Jean Ann's story: how a nun got her name (33:41 - 39:14) Khalsa names in Sikhi: names that remove caste & resist injustice (39:15 - 48:21) Pauahi's story: a fiery name binding her to her Hawaiian lineage & activism (48:22 - end) Wrapping up: more stories to come! _____ Blessed Are the Binary Breakers is part of the Rock Candy Podcast Network. Find more shows, such as Brown Suga Diaries, at www.rockcandyrecordings.com. This show's theme song is "Aetherium" by Leah Horn. This episode also makes use of "Mod 4" and "Dreamer" by Jeremy SH Griffith; as well as Rabbi Ahuva Zache's version of "Eliyahu Hanavi" at The YouTube Rabbi.
November 30, 2021
"His Name Is John": magnAUtism & allyship in Luke 1
A clip from a full episode of Laura Sommer's Autistic Liberation Theology podcast in which Avery and Laura discuss John the Baptist and his parents, Elizabeth and Zechariah. The two friends connect John's joyful leaping in the womb to Laura's coined term "magnAUtism" — the way autistic persons are drawn to and connect with one another. They also discuss how Mary, Elizabeth, and Zechariah are impacted by the autistic joy & defiance of their children even before and just after birth — especially how Zechariah's insistence "his name is John" makes him a patron saint of the parents of trans children today. Episode transcript. Content Warning: brief discussion of ableist violence, antiblack violence. Talking Points: (0:00 - 9:14) Introducing the topic; MagnAUtism, "autistic oxygen" (9:15 - 15:17) Autistic gifts to the whole community: joy, defiance, questioning the status quo (15:18 - 18:04) The wrong and right ways to react to an autistic child — "be your child's first ally, not their first bully" (18:05 - 25:02) "His name is John!" Zechariah as patron saint of parents of trans kids (25:03 - 29:20) Autistic John the Baptist (29:21 - end) Wrapping up __ Blessed Are the Binary Breakers is part of the Rock Candy Podcast Network. Find more shows at www.rockcandyrecordings.com. This show's theme song is "Aetherium" by Leah Horn.
October 31, 2021
The Blending of Pagan & Christian Belief: Black Book's tour of nineteenth-century Russia
The spiritual landscape of nineteenth-century rural Russia blended native traditions and beliefs with Christianity; this is the world in which Black Book, an independent video game produced by Russian studio Morteshka, is set. In this episode, Avery shares some of what Black Book taught them about this syncretism of belief (without spoiling the game, don't worry!). Then, they bring in Leslie Feinberg's 1996 text Transgender Warriors to discuss similar tensions between indigenous and Christian traditions in medieval Western Europe. What happened to other gods and spirits after the rise of Christianity? How did sorcerers like Black Book's young woman protagonist navigate this spiritual blend as they either helped or cursed the peasants who both revered and feared them for their knowledge? What's all this got to do with trans folk? Read along with the episode transcript here. _______ Talking Points: (0:00 - 3:50) Introducing Black Book: playing as Vasilisa, a young sorceress in a world where people believe both in Christian and pagan teachings (3:51 - 10:50) Gods become demons; old rituals take on Christian elements; icons & feast days blend Christian & pagan traditions (10:51 - 13:16) Sorcerers and knowers — both revered and feared; tension between them and Christian priests (13:17 - 21:01) Moving westward and back in time to Feudal Europe: similar tension between Christianity and native religions; transgender expression targeted (21:02 - end) Wrapping up _______ Blessed Are the Binary Breakers is part of the Rock Candy Podcast Network. Find more shows at www.rockcandyrecordings.com. This show's theme song is "Aetherium" by Leah Horn.
October 15, 2021
The Transcendent Tale of Brigid of Ireland: Celtic Goddess, Catholic Saint, and Voodoo Lwa
Brigid's intimate relationship with a fellow nun is not the only queer thing about her — her story also transcends any one religion, period, or place. How did a Celtic deity of forge and hearth transition into a fifth-century Catholic nun? How did devotion to Saint Brigid extend from Irish immigrants to enslaved Africans in Haiti and New Orleans? This mysterious figure revels in interweaving apparent opposites, in justice for outcasts, and in...a heavenly lake of beer?? For devotees of many faiths, Brigid's perpetual flame continues to light the way to wisdom and holy joy. Find the episode transcript here. Talking Points: (0:00 - 6:00) Syncretism: the merging of multiple cultures and beliefs; introducing Brigid (6:01 - 10:25) Brigid the Celtic Goddess — artist, warrior, and healer; three-in-one according to Celtic Imagination (10:25 - 21:25) Brigid the Catholic abbess — a miraculous cloak, a miraculous abortion, and heaven's lake of beer (21:26 - 25:59) Darlughdach, sapphic soul-friend; Brigid's syncretic festival and cross (26:00 - 30:34) The perpetual flame at Kildare and global orders of flamekeepers (30:35 - 34:25) Maman Brigitte, Voodoo Lwa of death (34:26 - 38:05) Wrapping up: drawing close to Brigid the binary breaker ______ Blessed Are the Binary Breakers is part of the Rock Candy Podcast Network. Find more shows at www.rockcandyrecordings.com. This show's theme song is "Aetherium" by Leah Horn. This episode also makes use of "Mod 4" and "Mod 5" by Jeremy SH Griffith.
October 01, 2021
Sex Work and Satanism with Azura Rose
Despite growing up in a heavily conservative Christian town, Azura Rose (they/she) was raised by parents who encouraged them to ask questions and explore religion on their own. They are now a Satanist in Toronto, as well as a cosplayer & sex worker. In this episode, Azura discusses the beliefs & activism of The Satanic Temple, as well as what it's like to be a queer, goth, disabled sex worker. Listen (or read along with the episode transcript) to find out what Satan & Jesus have in common; what was up with all the backlash around Lil Nas X's single Montero; how some of Azura's clients have supported them on their gender journey; and much more. CONTENT WARNING: This episode contains discussions of child sexual abuse; bullying & religious trauma + threats of hell; mention of grandparent deaths ______ Talking Points: (0:00 - 2:30) Housekeeping (2:31 - 5:11) Introducing Azura (5:12 - 10:10) Growing up — bullied for not being Christian; supportive parents; discovering Wicca and Satanism, Lilith & Lucifer (10:11 - 12:35) Explaining differences between the Church of Satan and The Satanic Temple (TST) (12:36 - 15:19) Who is Satan for Satanists? — An archetype embodying rebellion against unjust authority; Satanists are atheistic (15:20 - 18:28) Why TST has a large number of queer & neurodivergent members; parallels between Christian elements & Satanism (18:29 - 20:59) Backlash Lil Nas X (21:00 - 25:36) The Satanic Panic of the 1980s-90s — originated in Canada; the McMartin Preschool Trial (25:37 - 29:43) TST's political activism — reproductive rights, religious rights — more complex in Canada, where TST isn't an official religion (29:44 - 36:06) How TST's tenets speak to Azura as a sex worker & trans person — "our body is subject to our will alone" (36:07- 48:59) More about TST: meetups; non-binary interpretations of Baphomet, Lilith, and Lucifer (49:00 - 55:51) What it's like to be genderfluid and a sex worker — supportive clients (55:22 - 1:02:48) Closing thoughts: other people's thoughts about your gender or faith don't matter; the need for rights and resources; when seeking to learn about Satanism or sex work, find people who are similar to you and different from you ______ Find Azura on Twitter @hellcatazura and at hellcatazura.rip. Learn more about The Satanic Temple at thesatanictemple.com/pages/about-us Resources for supporting sex workers: - https://decriminalizesex.work/ - Human Rights Watch: "Why Sex Work Should Be Decriminalized" - The Sex Workers Project ______ Blessed Are the Binary Breakers is part of the Rock Candy Podcast Network. Find more shows, such as Sacred Tension, at www.rockcandyrecordings.com. This show's theme song is "Aetherium" by Leah Horn. This episode also makes use of "Camilla" by Jeremy SH Griffith.
August 28, 2021
Manlike Babies, Cuckolded Joseph, & the Sex Worker Madonna — More from Neville on Morality in Renaissance Art
Neville and Avery talk about the weird Renaissance tendency to depict babies as small men; how stereotypes about cuckolded husbands influenced artists' depictions of Joseph; why the Church was so scandalized by Caravaggio's sex worker Madonnas AND the presence of dirty feet on Saints and pilgrims; and more. As you listen, Avery invites you to ponder: what is considered decent and moral in your own time and place, and why? For a larger conversation with Neville in which they discuss being an Australian queer Catholic who both studies and creates art, look back to episode 38: "Finding the Power in Our Queerness and Rebellion in Our Love." For an episode transcript, visit blessedarethebinarybreakers.com. Avery invites you to learn how to be an ally to sex workers through resources like this one. And here is the link to their conversation with a friend on Cain, Abel, and disability that they promote at the start of this ep! Talking points: (0:00 - 5:56) Introducing the episode + promotion of "Abel-ism" ep (5:57 - 8:52) What is a baby, a small man? — cultural context (8:53 - 12:13) Joseph's "glow-up" in art from an older "cuckold" to a good stepdad — how stereotypes influence art (12:14 - 15:27) Depicting Jesus and other biblical figures as white, dressed in contemporary clothes (15:28 - 20:24) Caravaggio's sex worker & child who modeled as Madonna & child — reflecting on purity stigmas (20:25 - 23:08) Queer reflections on the rules against "imperfections" and what counts as a holy body — God created us to experience change (23:09 - end) Linear perspective avoided as "deception" until Da Vinci could show it could be "religious" _______ Blessed Are the Binary Breakers is part of the Rock Candy Podcast Network. Find more shows, such as Bubble & Squeak, at www.rockcandyrecordings.com. This show's theme song is "Aetherium" by Leah Horn.
July 27, 2021
"I am God and not a man" - Exploring God's gender in the Book of Hosea with Liam Hooper & Peterson Toscano
This episode is a sharing of an episode that first aired on the Bible Bash Podcast on November 30, 2020. Check out more from Bible Bash at https://biblebashpodcast.com/. By taking on Hosea 11:9, Avery Smith cracks open a rich discussion with Bible Bash co-hosts Liam Hooper and Peterson Toscano. Avery writes: “I interpret God’s declaration 'For I am God and not a man' in Hosea 11:9 as, among other things, evidence of Their rejection of being assigned a human gender and the roles implied therein.” Could God be making a declaration of gender? What is Hosea the prophet trying to do and say to the people? And what about God’s radical swings from tenderness to threats of violence? In addition to covering these topics and more, Avery highlights best practices for ministers and places of worship when addressing non-binary people by name and pronoun. The entire conversation is fresh, insightful, and a lot of fun. ____ Blessed Are the Binary Breakers is part of the Rock Candy Podcast Network. Find more shows, such as the Bible Bash Podcast, at www.rockcandyrecordings.com.
June 29, 2021
God Gets Vulnerable: A trans & autistic look at Elijah and the "still small voice"
Avery was delighted to be on their friend Laura's Autistic Liberation Theology podcast; this episode features a clip from a longer conversation on "Toxic Mask-ulinity" that you can listen to at anchor.fm/laura-sommer. In this clip, Laura introduces the concept of autistic masking — concealing parts or all of yourself in order to survive in an allistic (non-autistic) world — and relates it to similar trans experiences; then Laura and Avery connect these concepts to the 1 Kings 19 story of God coming to Elijah not in fire or earthquake, but in a "still small voice." What message do we find in God meeting Elijah's feelings of frailty with vulnerability of Their own? How does God make use of "masks" to accommodate us humans? For an episode transcript, visit blessedarethebinarybreakers.com. __________ Talking Points: (0:00 - 4:30) Intro — an update from Adam Richards, the guest from episodes 3 & 5 back in 2019, on their journey in Methodist ministry! (4:31 - 9:29) Laura explains autistic masking — a survival tactic with a major cost — and links it to trans experience (9:30 - 13:39) Joy Ladin's concept of God as the ultimate Other, just as trans persons are often treated in our world (13:40 - 16:21) Reading 1 Kings 19: Elijah is ready to die; God comes to him as a "still small voice" (16:22 - 18:26) The Hebrew behind the "still small voice" — more literally "a voice, a thin whisper" (18:27 - 25:53) Frailness or vulnerability is one face of God, which They use to accommodate our own frailty (25:54 - end) Wrapping up — don't forget to check out Laura's podcast, Autistic Liberation Theology! __________ Blessed Are the Binary Breakers is part of the Rock Candy Podcast Network. Find more shows, such as Magnified Pod, at www.rockcandyrecordings.com. This show's theme song is "Aetherium" by Leah Horn. This episode also includes "Sept 15 Jam" by Jeremy SH Griffith.
June 15, 2021
When a trans traveler and an autistic apostle cross paths: Reading Acts 8 in community
When we delve into any holy text together, we all come away the richer for it — just as Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch enriched one another during their odd desert encounter, each sharing what they found in the prophet Isaiah. In this episode, Avery shares a sermon they wrote on Acts 8:26-40 that draws not only from many transgender theologians but also from a conversation with a handful of people who all brought their unique insights to the story. Philip can be read as autistic, the eunuch as trans — and so much more! What unique experiences do we need YOU to share to expand our understanding of this story even further? For an episode transcript, visit blessedarethebinarybreakers.com. Talking Points: (0:00 - 4:53) Introducing Acts 8 and sermon background (4:54 - 9:00) Sermon starts - how eunuchs of old connect to trans persons today; conversing in community (9:01 - 17:30) Part 1 of the Acts 8 text — on the wilderness road, Philip's autistic enthusiasm breaks down barriers (17:31 - 26:30) Part 2 of the Acts 8 text — the eunuch's connection to Isaiah's suffering servant using theology of survival (26:31 - 31:20) Part 3 of the Acts 8 text — the eunuch is baptized as they are, bringing all their differences into their relationship with God; our diversity is a gift we bring to our faith communities (31:21 - end) Wrapping up with resource suggestions __________ Blessed Are the Binary Breakers is part of the Rock Candy Podcast Network. Find more shows, such as Bible Bash, at www.rockcandyrecordings.com. This show's theme song is "Aetherium" by Leah Horn. This episode also includes "Mod 4" and "Sept 15 Jam" by Jeremy SH Griffith.
May 31, 2021
"God's love should not be tainted by the fear of earthly hatred" - April is a proud Catholic Latina trans woman
April Willow Castillo knows what it is to believe yourself to be the only queer person in all of Peru; to question your sexuality while in Catholic youth group in the US; and to finally grow into yourself at a university supportive of LGBT faculty and students. In this episode, April discusses how the love of God has pulled her from depressive states and religious trauma into deep joy and pride in being herself and bonding with other Hispanic queer folk. She also talks about LGBT community in Peru and the US; the history of Indigenous and Catholic religion in Peru; and how God is often twisted into a political weapon in the US. For an episode transcript, visit blessedarethebinarybreakers.com. Content warnings: swearing; depression; grandparent's death; homophobia & transphobia from friends, family, & faith leaders; internalized queerphobia; brief mentions of conversion therapy _______ Talking Points: (0:00 - 5:35) Introducing April - Latina trans Catholic university student, Peruvian immigrant, aspiring gamer girl (5:36 - 8:50) Growing up - Hispanic Catholic communities in US; Peruvian town where Catholic celebrations bring the community together (8:51 - 13:57) Youth group - from depression to a spiritual reawakening (13:58 - 21:28) Questioning sexuality and realizing how church wields God as political weapon; youth group & church tainted by fear - though some peers are more accepting (21:29 - 25:29) "Are you a man?" - questioning gender - "how did anyone ever think i was cis?” (25:30 - 26:30) Jesus would be seen as a communist/socialist - but US churches twist him into pro-capitalism (26:31 - 30:52) Exploring Peru's indigenous religion - coming to terms with being a proud Catholic while holding the history of it being forced on her ancestors (30:53 - 36:18) queerness in Peru - not talked about: "I was pretty sure I was the only queer person in Peru" - more recently, ads using LGBT figures (36:19 - 39:17) In college - realizing she had to do something about gender - finding a good therapist and community - finding joy in being trans (39:18 - end) wrapping up - more of April's story in future ep _______ Blessed Are the Binary Breakers is part of the Rock Candy Podcast Network. Find more shows, such as Hot Tea Hot Takes, at www.rockcandyrecordings.com. This show's theme song is "Aetherium" by Leah Horn. This episode also includes "Damage" by EleventySeven.
April 29, 2021
Goodness Embodied: An intersex, nonbinary first human and a disabled risen Christ
Avery shares their sermon from a recent worship service centered around the goodness of all bodies - particularly those the world labels broken or lesser. When so many of us are made to feel imprisoned by our own flesh, how do we embrace embodiment as something holy? Let's look to ancient interpretations of the first human (ha-adam) as intersex; connect this human's story to gender affirming surgery; and explore Jesus's choice to rise in a physical body with disabling wounds to discover how what the world calls broken, God calls Good. For an episode transcript, visit blessedarethebinarybreakers.com. Talking Points: (0:00 - 7:27) Intro: unlearning Greco-Roman dualism that pits spirit over flesh; learning how autistic stimming connects our minds & bodies (7:28 - 12:15) Scripture readings from Genesis 2:7-25, John 20:19-29, & 1 Corinthians 1:18-29 (12:16 - 14:11) The sermon begins - our bodes become cages in a world that teaches us some bodies are normative and all others are deviant; but Genesis 2 & John 20 teach us differently (14:12 - 16:41) The first human, ha-adam - an intersex being with no assigned gender - created good, but in need of a helpful counterpart (16:42 - 19:21) God does not deny or dismiss ha-adam's problem of aloneness, but identifies the problem and fixes it - what if we did likewise for the disability and transgender communities? (19:22 - 22:02) God the first surgeon, creating two bodies where there was one - affirming the steps we take to be more at home in our bodies & demonstrating our need for community (22:03 - 23:42) Jesus's body is also labeled lesser; Jesus is connected to ha-adam by scar tissue - a surgery performed in love vs. a soldier's spear (23:43 - 26:14) Jesus keeps his body to connect to Thomas; to show us that we are not spirits in flesh prisons, but inspirited bodies; for the sake of all who are told to hate & punish their bodies (26:15 - 29:55) Jesus keeps his disabling wounds to show that disability and wholeness are not incompatible; what does it mean if disability will not be removed, but redeemed? (29:56 - 31:17) Both Jesus and ha-adam show us that interdependence is not weakness, but strength (31:18 - 34:29) Showing our bodies love even when we struggle to love them (34:30 - end) Wrapping up with a prayer _______ Blessed Are the Binary Breakers is part of the Rock Candy Podcast Network. Find more shows, such as Bible Bash, at www.rockcandyrecordings.com. This show's theme song is "Aetherium" by Leah Horn. This episode also makes use of Jeremy SH Griffith's pieces "Mod 5," "Sept 15 Jam," "Camilla," and "Mod 2."
April 14, 2021
Combatting Antisemitism on Good Friday: An Alternative to the "Solemn Reproaches of the Cross"
The scriptures and liturgy that Christian communities read during Holy Week, the week we commemorate Jesus's arrest and crucifixion, have borne violent antisemitic fruit across the centuries. Particularly poisonous is the "Solemn Reproaches of the Cross," or Improperia, which pins the blame for Jesus' death squarely on the Jewish community. In this episode, Avery shares the alternative liturgy they wrote, with the hope that it might be a jumping off point for conversations on this topic. Rather than pretending the "Solemn Reproaches" never existed, Christians must grapple with it, guide our communities in understanding why it is so evil, and thus move towards acknowledging and dealing with our antisemitism, past and present. For an episode transcript, visit blessedarethebinarybreakers.com/podcast-archive. Find the referenced article by Amy-Jill Levine with its strategies for dealing with problematic New Testament texts here. Avery also published their alternative text at binarybreakingliturgy.com. Blessed Are the Binary Breakers is part of the Rock Candy Podcast Network. Find more shows at www.rockcandyrecordings.com. This show's theme song is "Aetherium" by Leah Horn. "August" & "Knowing" by Jeremy SH Griffith, as well as "Gold Beamer" by Mother Hood, are also used in this episode.
April 01, 2021
Finding the Power in Our Queerness and Rebellion in Our Love: Neville studies and creates queer Catholic art
Amy Neville (he, she, or they pronouns) is a 21-year-old Australian art historian & artist whose work celebrates being both Catholic & queer. In this episode, Avery and Neville discuss Neville's life and how they've learned to stand up for themself and other queer persons; the way women & queer artists have used textile arts over the years; and Europe’s Renaissance Period, focusing on queer artists who navigated adhering to & rebelling against the Catholic Church's rules for art in that period. For an episode transcript and more info about this show, visit blessedarethebinarybreakers.com/podcast. Find Neville on instagram @krem.caramel; check out their work at amyneville.art. Talking Points: (0:00 - 4:51) A reminder to Christians to confront antisemitism in Holy Week - see here for Amy-Jill Levine's article (4:52 - 13:43) Discovering queerness while in Catholic high school - finding resources, standing up against a teacher's homophobia (13:44 - 18:04) Meeting confident queer persons at university; coming out as genderfluid, going by last name Neville (18:05 - 21:37) Creating art about being queer and Catholic; push-back from fellow queer folks for being Catholic (21:38 - 29:22) Finding fellow queer persons of faith; the joy of community; Neville's graduate art exegesis "Divine Rebellion" (29:23 - 37:08) Some textile arts history: suffragettes & feminists reclaiming it; queer persons expanding it - "the perfect medium" for underrepresented and undervalued groups (37:09 - 43:32) Europe's Renaissance Period: the Catholic Church's power over the art scene; Caravaggio's role in rules censoring what could be depicted (43:33 - 44:30) Resisting pinning down dead artists' sexualities with labels they didn't have (44:31 - 48:24) Da Vinci's revolutionary art; sympathy for Judas (48:25 - 55:26) Michelangelo's struggle with religion - not because of queerness, but because of his love of science; rebellion in his Sistine Chapel masterpiece (55:27 - end) wrapping up - "find the power in your queerness and the rebellion in your love"; a future ep will continue Neville's tour of Renaissance art ____________ Blessed Are the Binary Breakers is part of the Rock Candy Podcast Network. Find more shows, such as Magnified Pod, at www.rockcandyrecordings.com. This show's theme song is "Aetherium" by Leah Horn. "August" and "Mod 5" by Jeremy SH Griffith are also used in this episode.
March 30, 2021
No end to transphobia without uprooting ableism: exploring embedded forms of oppression
In this first episode focusing on the interconnections between trans & disability communities & theologies, Avery draws from Mel Baggs' theory of embedded forms of oppression to describe how ableism is at the heart of many manifestations of transphobia, including pathologization and coerced treatments. When transness is perceived as a disability, and disability is perceived as brokenness, the logical result is to try to "fix" or "cure" the trans individual - as evinced in the non-affirming "disability framework" through which some Christians view transness as a symptom of a Fallen world. How can trans persons and disabled persons join together to fight their similar battles, within faith communities and beyond? For an episode transcript (with citations) and more info about this show, visit blessedarethebinarybreakers.com/podcast. Talking Points: (0:00 - 5:13) Introducing the topic: why we must be anti-ableist in order to be anti-transphobic (5:12 - 6:48) At least 39% of trans people have one or more disabilities (6:49 - 7:46) Mel Baggs' theory: “There is ableism somewhere at the heart of your oppression, no matter what your oppression may be" (7:47 - 13:23) Example of sexism embedded in homophobia, and ableism embedded in both - drawing from "clobber verse" 1 Cor 6:9 (13:24 - 17:29) Examples of ableism embedded in transphobia - eugenics, pathologization; Christian psychologist Mark Yarhouse's "disability framework" for understanding transness (17:30 - 21:39) This embeddedness requires that we confront ableism in order to combat transphobia - how? (21:40 - end) Wrapping up - 1 Cor 12's interdependent members of one body ________ Blessed Are the Binary Breakers is part of the Rock Candy Podcast Network. Find more shows, such as Bible Bash, at www.rockcandyrecordings.com. This show's theme song is "Aetherium" by Leah Horn. "Gold Beamer" and "Can't Find" by MotherHood are also used in this episode.
March 15, 2021
Solaris Baldwin is Christian not out of fear, but out of love for a co-suffering God
Solaris Baldwin is a 21-year-old Black, genderfluid Methodist who first learned about Jesus as a watchful judge ready to throw people into hell. However, as they explored their identity and sought out community, they uncovered the God who does not will suffering but who suffers alongside us; who does not demand unquestioning obedience but desires our joyful efforts to emulate God's own love. Join Solaris and Avery in a conversation about finding our people, wrestling with scripture, and letting go of fear in order to embrace growth and love. Find Solaris @seraphic_sapphics on Instagram. For an episode transcript and more info about this show, visit blessedarethebinarybreakers.com/podcast. Timestamps: (0:00 - 6:17) Lent as a time for openness and self-nourishment; introducing Solaris (6:18 - 12:34) Solaris' childhood - white-majority Christian schools, learning that God is a watchful judge (12:35 - 17:53) First school with Black classmates - don't recognize Solaris as one of them; first Methodist church - learns that faith doesn't have to be fearful (17:54 - 26:39) Exploring identity - asexuality invalidated; trying out Islam, Catholicism, and....Juggaloism! - Searching for find a community & culture of their own (26:40 - 32:15) University - connecting to queer and Christian community at last; coming to understand God as co-sufferer & Outsider (32:16 - 43:05) Why fear-based religion doesn't work - the Clobber Passages, asking why, and hateful acts fueled by fear (43:06 - 54:37) Solaris' favorite Bible passages; accepting growth and changing our minds as part of faith; taking on witchcraft and accepting that none of us have everything right about God (54:38 - end) Wrapping up - visit Avery's instagram, Twitter, or tumblr for daily book quotes & reflection questions this Lent ________ Blessed Are the Binary Breakers is part of the Rock Candy Podcast Network. Find more shows, such as Common Creatives, at www.rockcandyrecordings.com. The theme song is "Aetherium" by Leah Horn. "Can't Find" by MotherHood is also used in this episode.
February 23, 2021
Transgender Mental Health: with affirmation, community, and purpose, we thrive
Trans persons experience drastically higher rates of mental illness and suicide attempts - when they are denied support and safety. In this episode, five trans and/or nonbinary persons of faith share their own mental health journeys, that move them from harmful theology to discovering God's deep love for them; and from isolation or hostility into relationships where they are embraced for all that they are. CONTENT WARNING for discussions of suicide ideation & suicide attempts and brief mentions of self harm; as well as mentions of non-LGBT affirming ideologies. Timestamps: (0:00 - 9:00) Statistics & studies surrounding transgender mental health; Avery discusses how mental illness is higher in trans populations because of lack of support, not because of sin or brokenness. (9:01 - 15:34) Solaris Baldwin discusses how their suicide ideation stemmed from lack of options, and tells the story of how God sent two strangers to save their life. (15:35 - 23:18) Avery and Solaris discuss how prevalence of illness is not because of sin, how community helps; they then discuss how these experiences can help us develop greater compassion for others and God's presence in the midst of suffering. (23:19 - 25:43) Raphael shares their experiences with schizoaffective disorder, suicidality, and God's protection in the midst of it all. (25:44 - 33:53) Alex Burchnell tells of his journey from anxiety and uncertainty into a life of love and purpose as the president of Queer Christian Family Values. (33:54 - 39:52) Lavii has always been queer, Christian, AND proud, even while struggling with family homophobia and isolation at school; with the help of God and loving relationships, her journey is looking up. ____ Find the participants online: Solaris - @seraphic_sapphics on Instagram. Raphael - on TikTok @hostmodem; on mastodon at email@example.com; on Discord at Cactus Divina#3353. Alex Burchnell - QueerChristianFamilyValues.com; on Twitter, Facebook, & Instagram @AlexMBurchnell. Lavii - thisisworsethanitlookslike.tumblr.com ____ For an episode transcript and more info about this show, visit blessedarethebinarybreakers.com/podcast. Blessed Are the Binary Breakers is part of the Rock Candy Podcast Network. Find more shows, such as Brown Suga Diaries, at www.rockcandyrecordings.com. The theme song come from "Aetherium" by Leah Horn. Other pieces used in this episode are "Can't Find" by MotherHood as well as "August," "Dreamer," and "Knowing" by Jeremy SH Griffith.
February 15, 2021
How Shiva gave Rudra their name: the life of a disabled nonbinary Fijian-Canadian
For an episode transcript and more info about this show, visit blessedarethebinarybreakers.com/podcast. Rudra Maharaj navigates feeling disconnected from many of the communities around them due to racism, ableism, homophobia, and cultural differences, even while embracing the gods whose stories show them that queerness is compatible with Hinduism. In this episode, Rudra discusses their family's unique ways of practicing Hinduism as descendants of the indentured Indian diaspora living in Canada by way of Fiji; how Shiva gave them their name; and how being disabled intersects with their faith and family life. Find Rudra on Twitter @RY_Maharaj Talking Points: (0:00 - 3:00) Intro - explaining that the interview was held over text message; Avery's sister helps read the transcript (3:01 - 5:49) Rudra's time at university - disconnect within a largely white and abled department; studying history because of their family's history in the indentured Indian diaspora (5:50 - 8:20) Rudra's Hinduism - about the world, connecting to family and tradition, as much as about the gods (8:21 - 15:07) Rudra's name, queer stories of the gods, and discussing differences between Hinduism and Christianity (15:08 - 18:36) Disability - for a lot of Hindus, it's the consequence of actions in a past life; Rudra's family accommodates their disability (18:37 - 21:21) Wrapping up Blessed Are the Binary Breakers is part of the Rock Candy Podcast Network. Find more shows, such as Sacred Tension, at www.rockcandyrecordings.com. The theme song come from "Aetherium" by Leah Horn. Also used in this episode is the instrumental version of "Can't Find" by MotherHood.
January 26, 2021
Interfaith and Interracial Solidarity in the Georgia Elections
For an episode transcript and more info, visit blessedarethebinarybreakers.com/podcast. Avery shares their plans for this podcast for 2021! But first, they discuss the hard work that won white Jewish man Jon Ossoff & Black Christian Rev. Raphael Warnock the seats that flipped the US Senate blue, using an interfaith and interracial lens to do so. Talking points: (0:00 - 4:21) Episode intro, summary of presidential election & GA's runoff election (4:22 - 10:05) Exploring Ossoff and Warnock - how their respective faiths fuel their civil work; comparing them to Congress's white Christian majority (10:06 - 13:23) Shifting the narrative about faith in politics (13:24 - 18:09) Stacey Abrams and others' hard work (18:10 - 23:51) This podcast's future: expanding the binaries we "break"; 2 episodes per month (23:52 - 27:02) Call for submissions on mental illness and health among trans persons - due Feb 15; wrapping up Blessed Are the Binary Breakers is part of the Rock Candy Podcast Network. Find more shows at www.rockcandyrecordings.com.
January 14, 2021
A Queer Nativity: God’s transition, Mary’s trans-gressive yes, and Joseph's trans-formation into an ally
For an episode transcript and more info about this show, visit blessedarethebinarybreakers.com/podcast. Find more of Avery's poetry at binarybreakingliturgy.com. Avery reflects on the queerness of Advent + Christmas, including 3 original poems. They show how the Nativity story (as presented in Luke & Matthew) is bursting with binaries broken, assumptions flipped on their head, and God's uplifting of persons the world calls unworthy. They explore Divinity's transition into a physical, finite form assigned male at birth; Mary's "yes" that put her at risk of social condemnation - not unlike what trans persons risk when coming out; and Joseph's initial confusion and rejection transformed into solidarity due to his openness to God's word. Talking points: (0:00 - 4:00) Mary's Magnificat and God's revolution (4:01 - 4:56) Poem: "God's Revolution" (4:57 - 8:30) God's transition + Poem: "Snowball" (8:31 - 15:16) Mary's betrothal, and her "yes" to social condemnation (15:17 - 19:06) Poem: "Mary, Mother of Your Transgender Children" (19:07 - end) Joseph: transformed by God's angel into an ally Blessed Are the Binary Breakers is part of the Rock Candy Podcast Network. Find more shows at www.rockcandyrecordings.com. The theme song is "Aetherium" by Leah Horn. The other music featured in this episode comes from "Valpariso" and "Dreamer" by Jeremy SH Griffith - find more at www.jeremyshgriffith.com/home.
December 22, 2020
“It’s good to have wings, but you have to have roots too”: Cultivating your own faith while embracing religious pluralism
For an episode transcript and more info about this show, visit blessedarethebinarybreakers.com/podcast. This is the second of two episodes featuring excerpts from authors who speak on religious pluralism and interfaith relationships. In this episode, Avery reiterates how opening oneself to beliefs beyond one's own can enrich one's connection to divinity and to humanity - rather than posing a threat to one's own faith life. The passages Avery shares in this episode come from Rabbi Jonathan Sacks' Making Space for Difference, Philip Vinod Peacock's "Some Insights on Imago Dei," Rev. Jonathan Thunderword's From Christendom to Freedom, and Eboo Patel's Acts of Faith. Talking Points: - (0:00 - 3:30) Announcement - this podcast is now part of the Rock Candy Podcast Network! - (3:31 - 9:01) Peering out from our own boxes to avoid stagnation - seeking knowledge is an act of faith, not fear - (9:02 - 11:31) Rabbi Sacks and Philip Vinod Peacock on no one person or group fully representing the Image of God - (11:32 - 16:02) Introducing Rev. Jonathan Thunderword - a Black, trans, omni-faith, multi-spiritual practitioner and author of From Christendom to Freedom: Journeymaking with a Black Transgender Elder - (16:03 - 21:03) Engaging in multiple religions in his search for faith that nourishes rather than harms; looking to his ancestors and being shaped by every tradition he's explored - (21:04 - 22:50) Introducing Eboo Patel, founder and president of Interfaith Youth Core and author of Acts of Faith: The Story of an American Muslim, the Struggle for the Soul of a Generation - (22:51 - 28:25) Choosing between religious totalitarianism and religious pluralism - active commitment - (28:26 - 36:52) It's okay to personally prefer and maintain your own tradition as your "home" - but leave the windows open "so that the winds of other traditions can blow through and bring their unique oxygen." Blessed Are the Binary Breakers is part of the Rock Candy Podcast Network. Find more shows - such as Bible Bash - at www.rockcandyrecordings.com. The theme song is "Aetherium" by Leah Horn. The other music featured in this episode come from "Dreamer," "Mod 5," and "Mod 4" by Jeremy SH Griffith - find more at www.jeremyshgriffith.com/home.
December 17, 2020
"No one owns God" - readying yourself for respectful interfaith encounters
This is the first of two episodes featuring excerpts from authors who speak on religious pluralism, interfaith relationships, and how diverse identities and cultures enrich religion. In this first episode, Avery focuses in on the extra complexities faced by Christians in approaching interfaith relationships respectfully, as members of a religion with a history and present tangled up in colonization and assimilation. The passages Avery shares in this episode come from Barbara Brown Taylor's 2018 book Holy Envy: Finding God in the Faith of Others and Kaitlin B. Curtice's 2020 book Native: Identity, Belonging, and Rediscovering God. The next episode will feature authors from religions other than Christianity. (0:00 - 5:35) Why trans persons of all (and no) faiths need to include religious identity in our solidarity and activism; why the focus on Christianity for this first ep (5:36 - 10:35) Excerpts Barbara Brown Taylor's Holy Envy begin - "Could my faith be improved by the faiths of others?" (10:36 - 16:41) How fear of hell and a need to be most right, most favored poisons Christians' ability to open themselves to learn from other faiths (16:42 - 20:17) Moving Christianity from the center and putting God (or absolute truth) there - Christianity becomes one of many "planets" (religions and other ideologies) orbiting around that center (20:18 - 24:25) Excerpts from Kaitlin B. Curtice's Native begin - the violence of Christian colonization and white assimilation against Curtice and her Potawatomi ancestors (24:26 - 31:38) How Curtice's Potawatomi identity enriches her faith and helps her see the interconnectedness of all faiths and cultures (31:39 - end) Reckoning with one's personal history of oppression that comes with being Christian and/or holding white ancestry For an episode transcript, visit blessedarethebinarybreakers.com.
November 26, 2020
Halloween is a Queer Thing - from Celtic peasants to LGBT communities in the US
Avery draws from multiple sources to discuss Halloween as a holiday that has elevated gender diversity since its origins deep in the ancient Celt observance of Samhain. As a holiday that has undergone various transitions, traveling across time and space and religious experiences while maintaining its binary-breaking core, Halloween is the perfect time for those of us who don't fit into gender norms to live into our holy truths. Indeed, its rise in popularity in the United States may well have relied on LGBT communities! Talking Points: - (2:50 - 5:19) Leslie Feinberg - "...The old butches told me there was one night of the year that the cops never arrested us – Halloween." - (5:20 - 8:10) Judy Grahn - "The qualities of impersonation and the dangerous business of crossing over from one world to another help explain why Halloween is the most significant Gay holiday." - (8:11 - 16:10) Samhain's survival in spite of Church suppression; history of matrilineal peasants vs. patriarchal landlords and priests - (16:11 - 19:35) Feinberg - "Transgender [expression] has been outlawed by the ruling classes of both our systems -- feudal nobility and modern industrialists alike." - (19:36 - 23:40) Halloween comes to the USA; "cross dressing" policed until ~1914 when the police give up and no longer arrest "cross dressers" on Halloween night - (23:41 - 25:54) David Frum - "the Halloween craze started in gay culture," 1970s San Francisco - (25:55 - end) Grahn - "On Halloween 1980, my lover and long-time partner Wendy Caden and I...go to San Francisco and look at the Fairies and Queens..." Find resource citations and an episode transcript at blessedarethebinarybreakers.com/podcast
October 30, 2020
“Marginalized people should know not to marginalize people” - Andy’s research into bi and trans exclusion
Andy Thornton shares their research into the exclusion experienced by bi and trans persons not only in Christian spaces, but also in LGBT/queer spaces. They found that many persons are made to feel like they are "not enough" - not Christian enough, not queer enough, not trans enough - and feel compelled to alter or suppress aspects of themselves to fit in better. How do we learn to stop hurting one another in the same ways that the normative world hurts us? For a transcript and more places to listen, visit blessedarethebinarybreakers.com/podcast-archive. Talking points: - (0:00 - 4:12) Intro: relating Andy's research to the tv show Pose - (4:13 - 6:47) "The gays don't want me and the Christians don't want me" + the cliquey elements of both Christian spaces and queer spaces - (6:48 - 8:35) Methods of exclusion: ignoring, making exceptions, virtue signalling, conformity - (8:36 - 9:50) "You cannot be religious and queer" - (9:51 - 15:00) Internalizing, self blame when excluded or misgendered - (15:01 - 16:55) What the story of David and Saul teaches us - "don't fall into internalizing and repeating the patriarchal norms" - (16:56 - 21:38) The perils of gatekeeping and relief of finding we are not alone - (21:39 - 24:41) Wrapping up - Pose again; new website
October 16, 2020
"Helping each other be whole": trans insights into intersectionality and solidarity
In this special episode, 8 trans and/or nonbinary persons share their insights on solidarity and allyship, intersectionality and wholeness. How do we resist assimilation and recognize our interdependence? How does religion uplift or fail trans persons? What can all of us, cis and trans alike, do to recognize our privilege and show up for other marginalized communities? Let's keep the conversation rolling. Talking Points: (1:50 - 5:38) Hadassah (she/they) is a Black Jew who wants those who would be their ally, accomplice, or co-conspirator to understand that they must support every part of her. Every human and community must be taken holistically, for we are all journeying towards wholeness. (5:39 - 9:23) Andy Thornton (they/he) discusses how trans persons must show up for other marginalized groups, both members who are also trans and those that are cis. They bring up the issue of assimilation within the trans community and the need to fight the tendency to "other" others. (9:24 - 11:14) William (they/he) is a white 14-year-old in Missouri who is learning young what it means to show up for racial justice. They also talk about the support they find at their church. (11:15 - 12:58) Chris Paige (they/zey) recounts how their friend stands up for his nonbinary siblings by calling out cissexist language even in the middle of worship. A good ally or co-conspirator is willing to disrupt and take risks so that members of an oppressed group don't have to. (12:59 - 17:45) Elliott (he/him) is thankful to have found a Catholic community that listens to and uplifts trans voices, recognizing trans persons as fellow children of God. (17:46 - 20:35) Anonymous (she/her) is an Afro-Caribbean trans woman who emphasizes that transphobia is not inherent to every culture and often stems from white supremacy and colonization. Her mother is teaching her the practices of their people as an empowering alternative to white-dominated expressions of spirituality. (20:36 - 27:16) Dr. SJ Crasnow (they/them) teaches at a small Missouri university and studies how queer and trans Jews engage in and shape Judaism; in this episode they discuss how the US government attempts to violently regulate our bodies and identities; and then about privilege and what responsibility we have to bring our whole selves into our activism.
September 28, 2020
"It's an honor to be trans" - Andy is a queer Quaker
Andy Thornton (they / he, age 23, England) is an autistic artist and scholar, excitingly gendered, and passionate about expanding our inclusion within faith spaces and queer spaces ever wider. They became a Christian at 16 before realizing they were bi and trans, and despite queerphobic messages from church leaders, Andy received only messages of affirmation from God. Thus their love for a sassy, queer Jesus grew, and they eventually found a home in Quakerism, with its radical equality of all ages and genders and emphasis on activism. For a transcript of this episode, visit blessedarethebinarybreakers.com/podcast-archive. Find Andy and his art and writing online: @humansatsuma & @lesgetbetter on Instagram medium.com/@andykt3 - blog andythornton.work/ and behance.net/humansatsuma - art portfolios Timestamps: 00:00 - 06:07 Avery rambles & introduces Andy 06:08 - 10:01 Andy talks about their art, how it interacts with their gender and emphasizes representation 10:02 - 17:10 How Andy came to Quakerism - interfaith, emphasis on activism, long support of gay rights, working on trans affirmation 17:11 - 25:40 Andy's family; "God is definitely queer"; "my non-binary gender is really holy"; Andy's journey from anti-queer churches to God's affirmation 25:41 - 32:25 Quaker's communalism, civil disobedience, vs. church hurt from "Hillsong churches" & "Instagram Christianity" 32:26 - 39:06 Bonding over being autistic, intersections with autism, transness, and activism + a queer and autistic, sassy Jesus 39:07 - 44:55 being excluded from others Jesus lovers because of being trans & relief of finding people like us; more on the journey to reconciling faith and gender, being a Stonewall person of faith 45:56 - 50:16 more on Quakers being interfaith, 3 pillars of Quakerism 50:17 - 55:00 wrapping up: you are enough, and God made you perfect
August 27, 2020
Gender Diversity Pre-Patriarchy: what Genesis 24 reveals
Avery brings the story of Rebekah and her mother's household told in Genesis 24 into conversation with social anthropologists' understandings of the communal, cooperative societies that preceded the birth of patriarchal, patrilineal societies across the globe. Ze draws from Leslie Feinberg's text Transgender Warriors to explore how the rise of patriarchy and class impacted ancient persons whom we might identify as trans or otherwise gender diverse -- including the biblical character Rebekah, whom the original Hebrew text identifies as a na'ar, a "young man." Other texts from which this episode draws are Mx. Chris Paige's OtherWise Christian and Joy Ladin's The Soul of the Stranger: Reading God and Torah from a Transgender Perspective, as well as An Introduction to the Hebrew Bible by Gravett, Bohmbach, Greifenhagen, and Polaski. For an episode transcript, visit blessedarethebinarybreakers.com/podcast-archive.
July 29, 2020
Hagar and the Caravan - the Abrahamic God sides with the oppressed
Avery brings the story of Hagar - a figure shared by the Jewish, Christian, and Muslim traditions - into conversation with the story of Charlotte and other trans women who were part of a caravan leading up through Latin America into the United States. This episode continues the theme of solidarity from June's earlier bonus episode. It highlights the urgency of recognizing how intersections of gender and race impact trans persons of color. It’s a reminder for all who experience some form of marginalization that we must not allow our shared enemies to divide and conquer us -- that we must stop oppressing one another in the hopes of advancing a little bit ourselves. It explores the stories we share, the struggles we share, the goals we share. For an episode transcript, visit blessedarethebinarybreakers.com/podcast. News articles drawn from: - sfchronicle.com/bayarea/article/Two-transgender-women-joined-migrant-caravan-13605687.php - nbcnews.com/feature/nbc-out/mexico-caravan-lgbtq-migrants-stick-together-safety-n935591
June 29, 2020
As if their battle were my own - solidarity in current protests against police antiblackness
This special episode centers around the current protests against police murders of Black persons in the United States. In the fight against antiblackness, I see an urgent need to break down the binary constructed between US and THEM that allows our common enemy to divide and conquer our communities one by one. As trans activist Leslie Feinberg notes, each of us must become "fighters against each other’s oppression...and in doing so...forge an invincible movement against all forms of injustice and inequality." Frederick Douglass once said, "When I ran away from slavery, it was for myself; when I advocated emancipation, it was for my people; but when I stood up for the rights of women, self was out of the question, and I found a little nobility in the act." May each of us strive towards that "little nobility" of joining other's battles for liberation as if they were our own. During this Pride month, I call on my fellow white LGBT/queer people in particular to fight against antiblackness, honoring that the first Pride was a riot led by trans women of color. Timestamps: (0:00 - 3:00) The US is on fire - is your heart? (3:01 - 4:04) white LGBT persons who are against the protests - do they not know our history? The first Pride was a riot against police brutality (4:05 - 8:09) the binary of US versus THEM and the truth that our freedom is intertwined - Fannie Lou Hamer, MLK Jr., Leslie Feinberg, intersectionality (8:10 - 11:19) passage from Leslie Feinberg - "What would motivate someone who didn't face the same hatred and abuse to join me as an ally?" - Finding Frederick Douglass (11:20 - 13:44) Fighting for and taking risks for oppressed groups to which we don't personally belong; overcoming the fear of backlash (13:45 - end) The Litany of Humility - "From the fear of being despised, from the fear of suffering rebukes...deliver me."
June 02, 2020
Mx Chris Paige is an OtherWise holy hybrid
Chris Paige has been compiling resources for trans persons of faith since the late 1990s, when the word "OtherWise" came to them on a mountaintop to describe those who do not fit into Western binaries constructed around sex and gender. As they've cultivated community, maintained TransFaith.info, and blogged at OtherWiseChristian.com across the decades, Chris has been on a journey of their own. Their Christian faith has mingled and expanded into Animism and Humanism. They've taken on terms like "misfit" and their friend Louis Mitchell's phrase "holy hybrid" to better describe their identity. They've decided to attend seminary after resisting the academic "ivory tower" for so long. And most excitingly, they've founded OtherWise Engaged Publishing to get their OtherWise Christian series into the world, along with other books by fellow trans, intersex, or OtherWise authors. Find Chris at otherwisechristian.com/. Visit otherwiseengaged4u.wordpress.com/ to purchase the incredible books they've been publishing - books that compile 25 years' worth of trans-affirming biblical scholarship into one accessible volume, and that lift up many voices of OtherWise persons of faith. And be sure to check out transfaith.info/ as well! Find this episode's transcript at blessedarethebinarybreakers.com/podcast. Talking points: (0:00 - 5:13) - housekeeping, introducing Chris (5:14 - 11:29) - introducing Chris's work and books, age 48, defining "OtherWise" (11:30 - 17:53) - receiving the word "OtherWise" in 1998 at an LGBT retreat - a space for men, a space for women, and a space for those "otherwise" (17:54 - 23:44) - before "OtherWise" - mingling with Lesbian Christian groups; who feels "entitled" to create resources? (23:45 - 25:10) - starting the TransFaith site in 1999 - "someone has to do it!" (25:11 - 27:45) - meeting other trans folk offline - first time getting asked for pronouns - "power in trans folk being with other trans folk" (27:46 - 34:15) - claiming they pronouns as a theological choice; daughter's use of zey/zem for Chris; following a Zey Jesus through Holy Week (34:16 - 48:23) - more on Chris' books: the need for one concise, accessible resources on trans-affirming biblical scholarship; obstacles to publishing; "We can't wait for y'all to give us permission!" (48:24 - 52:54) - more on the lack of trans resources; Chris's gathering of friend's stories for current and future books (52:55 - 56:03) - OtherWise Christian 4 will compile biblical scholarship by and about intersex persons - "Jesus knew about intersex." (56:04 - 58:10) - heading to seminary in the fall - hopes that institutions have changed, that they can avoid having to do battle over clobber verses (58:11 - 1:03:14) - more on Chris' faith - a holy hybrid of animism, Humanism - "in multi-faith work around trans communities, our purpose is well-being. ...I want you to thrive as a trans Muslim/Jew/witch." (1:03:15 - 1:06:50) - heading towards chaplaincy - planning to create resources so chaplains can minister better to trans persons (1:06:51 - end) - "find our people"; "community can be messy"; wrapping up
May 26, 2020
How are trans people like Shiva, Joseph, and Joan of Arc?
Instead of an interview, this episode dives into faith history to present three stories that may resonate with trans and nonbinary people today. I draw from others' research to share accounts of: the divine manifestation Shiva from Hindu scriptures (as well as some of his devotees across time); Judaism's Joseph of Genesis; and the Catholic Saint Joan of Arc. Each of these figures (or their followers) breaks out of the gender roles assigned to them, sometimes facing condemnation for doing so - and yet they share their gifts in ways that bring healing and transformation to themselves and to others. Content warning: descriptions of anti-trans ideologies and violence. Talking Points: - (0:00 - 3:33) Housekeeping, introducing the episode themes - (3:34 - 11:06) Shiva - the ultimate binary breaker - (11:07 - 13:46) Hijras - a "third gender" community of India that will not be erased - (13:47 - 22:44) Joseph of Genesis - from family violence to the gratitude of whole nations - (22:45 - 29:21) Saint Joan of Arc - called by God to wear men's attire, adored by peasants - 29:22 - end) Wrapping up Resources Used: - The Man Who Was a Woman: And Other Queer Tales from Hindu Lore by Devdutt Pattanaik - sapiens.org/body/hijra-india-third-gender/ - article by Ina Goel - keshetonline.org/resources/baal-hachalomot-keepers-of-the-dreams-parashat-vayeshev/ - article by Karen Lee Erlichman - myjewishlearning.com/keshet/joseph-liberation-of-a-soul/ - article by Mijael Vera - keshetonline.org/resources/we-are-family-parashat-vayigash/ - article by Jase Schwartz - Transgender Warriors by Leslie Feinberg - qspirit.net/joan-of-arc-cross-dressing-lgbtq/ - article by Kittredge Cherry - blessedarethebinarybreakers.com/1400-1799
April 28, 2020
Sacred body, sacred space - stories of trans spirituality across faiths
The spiritual lives of trans persons are as rich and varied as anyone's - and indeed, are often enriched by their transness. In this episode, 14 trans and nonbinary persons from a variety of faiths - heathenism, Judaism, Christianity, Shinto, and more - and from around the world - the USA, Argentina, Australia, England, and more - share what sacredness means to them. Warning: discussion of anti-trans religious hurt. Also, 1 use of the f-word in Deacon Phoebe's story. - (3:43-7:07) "Anon" (they): a heathen in their 30s challenges the sacred/mundane binary & explains how shape-shifting gods helped them accept their body as "natural, nothing more, nothing less" - (7:08-10:59) Nano (they): a pagan in Argentina whose world is saturated with magic, especially the outdoors & any space that others find sacred. Contact Avery for Nano's email - (11:00-11:59) "Agnostic-Angel" (they): an Anglican Londoner in their 40s for whom the sacred is captured in a hymn. Tumblr: @agnostic-angel - (12:00-14:52) Jane De Odessa (e/em): a Jewish, genderqueer, femme lesbian for whom synagogues are full of good energy, & who finds that praying to a feminine G-d helps em come to terms with e's own gender. - (14:53-21:14) Jalyn (they or xi/xir): a 23-year-old Midwesterner who left Christian Fundamentalism for Shinto, where kami accept their worship without care for what gender they are. Tumblr: @practicalsolarpunk. jalynreads.wordpress.com - (21:15-25:18) "Deacon Phoebe" (they / she): despite church hurt, Deacon Phoebe practices Catholicism alongside Wicca, drawing sustenance from Mother Mary, Way of the Rose feminist rosary circle, Red Tent, & their local witches' circle. - (25:19-30:24) Enrique Cintrón (they): Enrique's altars connect them to their ancestors - from St. Sebastian, to deceased family members, to Sylvia Rivera and Sandra Bland. enriquecintron.com. Instagram & Twitter: @enriquecint. Check out their podcast, Fruits of the Spirit. - (30:25-31:59) Jude (they): a queer neurodivergent kind of pagan/kind of Christian kid in the US's Bible Belt for whom to be queer is to be holy. Tumblr: @bratwizard - (32:00-41:29) Ezra Saville (he / they): a 20-year-old, trans-masc, intersex Jew in the US's Pacific Northwest. They describe their personal prayer space & discuss how their gender gives them unique insight into Hashem. Tumblr: @queermachmir. Check out their project "Shacharit: For the Twilight People" at queermachmir.itch.io/shacharittwilight - (41:30-46:34) Jasper (they / he): a 16-year-old violinist whose Evangelical church surrounds him with anti-trans beliefs, yet who finds serenity & connection to the God who loves him in worship. - (46:35-52:37) Adrian (they): a 22-year-old in Oklahoma who connects to God through playing guitar & bass & singing in worship in ways that provide sensory input. Their transition is also an act of worship. Twitter: @adapted_battery - (52:38-55:09) Pina Colada (any pronouns): a 22-year-old pantheist in Toronto for whom every part of the universe is a part of God & whose practices include listening to Italian folk drumming & caring for nature. Tumblr: @pinabutterjam - (55:10-60:59) Katelyn (she / they): a 20-year-old in Australia who find sacredness in nature & whose vision of God has expanded bc of their nonbinaryness. Tumblr: @curkiewoods. katelynsthoughtsonfaith.wordpress.com - (61:00-72:32) Taylor (they): a Christian witch who shares the sacredness they find in Tarot & oracle decks by conducting readings for others; in this clip, they conduct a Tarot reading for Avery. Twitter: @Gender_Splendor. Reach out to them if you're interested in a reading!
March 24, 2020
Washing off Cisheteronormativity: Dr. S.J. Crasnow on centering LGBTQ persons in faith communities
Dr. S.J. Crasnow is a 35-year-old Jewish Californian who has made a home with their spouse in Kansas City, Missouri, where SJ teaches and researches in the religious studies department of a small university. Join us as SJ talks about growing up in a liberal, Jewish family but becoming wary of religious institutions over time; about only gradually recognizing their own queerness and first coming out at 25; and about their journey into academia. Dr. Crasnow studies how queer and trans Jews engage with their faith in powerful and innovative ways that can and do shape Judaism as a whole. According to SJ, the LGBTQ community is already present and active within Judaism and other religions -- even when the institutions have yet to do the work to make room for them. It is time for faith communities to center the ones who have been pushed to the margins, for the enrichment of the entire religion. Find the episode transcript at transchristianity.com/podcast Find SJ's work at https://rockhurst.academia.edu/SJCrasnow Talking points: - 0:0 - 3:51 - Introducing SJ: religious studies professor, Californian, outdoorsy, moving to the Midwest - 3:52 - 11:36 - SJ's childhood: attending a Jewish school in the 90s, trying to fit in - 11:37 - 15:29 - "I just don't think institutions within religions are where it's at for me...I want my Jewish community to improve" - 15:30 - 23:08 - Journey through higher education; coming out to family and friends, built up emotion and fear; realizing how much they gained from being queer and trans - 23:09 - 33:05 - The importance of trans and queer Jewish friends; studying queer and trans uses of the Mikvah ritual bath - 33:06 - 37:40 - Claiming the word "trans"; gender is a process of sedimentation - 37:41 - 44:54 - SJ's teaching life - 44:55 - 48:19 - "People are what give religion life and meaning;" "queer, trans, and other marginalized people have a central role" in their religions - 48:20 - end - Wrapping up
February 25, 2020
Taylor's faith evolution into a seminary-bound Christian witch
Taylor's faith is constantly evolving, from Presbyterian to atheist and back again, with their Christian faith expanding to include witchcraft. Learning from their family from a young age that politics and activism are part of following Jesus, Taylor has also discovered how queerness and tarot, symbolism, and astrology enrich their relationship with God. Taylor hopes to find a seminary where they can learn and grow even more, in the company of people who embrace all aspects of their identity as a fat, disabled, leftist, nonbinary, A+/B- asexual, Christian witch. *Content warning: a teenager's death is discussed from 12:06 - 14:58. If you need to, you can skip this section without losing the thread of the conversation too much.* _ Find Taylor at Gender_Splendor on Twitter! Reach out there if you're interested in a tarot reading; their rates are: - 20 dollars per 15 minutes on video chat or phone (up to an hour per client) - 35 dollars for an 8 card write-up sent to the client's inbox _ Talking points: - (0:00 - 2:57) Introducing Taylor -- New England, chronic pain, fat activism, B+/A- asexual - (2:58 - 4:53) Growing up as a child of divorce, mixed class, Presbyterian - (4:54 - 12:06) Taylor's faith evolution, Act One: mental illness and isolation, discovering they don't have to be solely responsible for their own well-being; first sense of calling to ministry - (12:07 - 16:57) Act Two: grappling with the death of a friend in high school; starting college and feeling disengaged from faith; finding a friend with whom they could talk through faith and figure out how things like tarot and symbolism can mesh with their Christian faith - (16:58 - 21:18) Steps toward seminary; "What are other people gonna think about me in this space?" - (21:19 - 23:58) Connections between faith, witchcraft, and queerness; "My nonbinary-ness is a reflection of God" - (23:59 - 27:43) Another look at childhood -- Taylor's queerness was accepted at their church; family taught them that activism is part of following Jesus - (27:44 - 34:40) The challenges with being a Christian witch in leftist spaces, and a leftist in Christian spaces - (34:41 - 36:04) Naming oneself versus being labeled by others -- naming as a sacred act - (36:05 - 39:36)The desire for others to fully understand oneself - (39:37 - end) Wrapping up; "haters gonna hate, but God just loves."
January 27, 2020
"Start from a place of 'I don't know everything'": prabhdeep singh kehal on queerness, colonialism, and interfaith dialogue
prabhdeep singh kehal's identities as a Sikh and as an educator motivate them to share knowledge wherever they can -- in classrooms, online, through resources for LGBTQ Sikhs and their families, and by partaking in interviews like this one! Listen as prabhdeep talks with me about their doctoral studies around colonialism in higher education; about entering into interfaith and intercultural conversations with humility and openness; about growing up without feeling any clash between their Sikhi and their queerness until other people made it a problem; and more. [Note: here is prabhdeep's explanation for keeping their name lowercase: "My name was not given to me in English. It was given to me in a language that does not use upper/lower case letters."] _ - Visit prabhdeep's website for information on their studies and links to other interviews with them: www.pskehal.com - You can also find them on Twitter @prabhbob and on Instagram @prabhdeepsk - prabhdeep recommends https://sikhfamilycenter.org/ for resources around family and faith. For a transcript of this episode, visit transchristianity.com/podcast. _ Talking Points: - Introduction - Sikhi and resisting viewing Sikhi from a Christian or Western lens - Religions are different from each other, and that's okay - Queerness in other cultures; exporting Pride? - prabhdeep's childhood: Sikhi and queerness as taboo; other people made their queerness a problem - Meeting other queer Sikhs, commitment to creating and sharing resources - More on interfaith encounters: seeing the similarities but not stopping there; discussing the fear that keeps us from appreciating religions not our own - Entering interfaith conversations without a need to "win," with humility about what we do not know - The history between slavery and higher education; discussing white supremacy within universities -- "this moment is not an accident" - Discussing colonialism, class, and patriarchy's gender binary: it's about property and control - final words of wisdom: trans people are inherently valuable and will not be quashed
December 31, 2019
Enrique is cultivating the fruits of the Spirit
After realizing that they did not have to try to be the cishet man their Catholic church and family expected them to be, and that God is bigger than any one institution, Enrique Cintrón explored a variety of religions before finding a home in the Episcopal Church. Enrique cultivates community in their hometown of Philadelphia as well as online, particularly in the form of their podcast, Fruits of the Spirit. Their ministry lifts the voices of queer and trans people of color, and calls all of us to embrace the sometimes-uncomfortable but ultimately life-giving conversations about racism, transphobia, and more. Where you can find Enrique: - enriquecintron.com - on Twitter and Instagram @enriquecint and also @FOTSpodcast - on Facebook at "Fruits of the Spirit Podcast" For a transcript of this episode, visit transchristianity.com/podcast Talking points: - (0:00 - 3:21) Intro - (3:22 - 9:45) Rooted in Philadelphia, raised in a Catholic Puerto Rican family; exploring various religions, finding the Episcopal Church - (9:46 - 15:23) Considering ordained ministry in a predominantly white denomination -- issues of racism without willingness for dialogue - (15:24 - 21:07) Online ministry -- social media is real, a place of community; starting the podcast Fruits of the Spirit for queer and trans people of color - (21:08 - 26:17) Christianity from a nonbinary perspective -- finding ourselves hidden in scripture; using They pronouns for God - (26:18 - 29:41) Steps to ordination, preparing for the spiritual challenges - (29:42 - 40:27) Enrique's time in the Life Together program -- valuable ministry, intentional community, racism unaddressed - (40:28 - 45:09) The need to address racism and other sources of pain in order to have authentic relationships - (45:10 - 46:47) Wrapping up -- where you can find Enrique; "trust the process" - (46:48 - 50:50) Ending notes: call for trans and/or nonbinary people to share their sacred spaces on the show; invitation to enter a raffle to win my book of poetry!
November 26, 2019
"We just want to be heard": Dee on Chile, race, disability, and trans rights
Dee Garnica shares their experience as a 19-year-old nonbinary Chilean, discussing issues of disability, race, and transgender rights in Chile. While the country does offer universal healthcare, as well as certain legal rights for trans persons, Dee has found that talk of trans issues is regarded as taboo and that the healthcare system fails many disabled persons. Moreover, despite the racial diversity of the Chilean people, racism rears its ugly head in the treatment of immigrants and in the dominance of white people in positions of power. Raised Catholic, Dee has also found Catholic school and Mass to be hostile places for them and thus has left religion. Wherever Dee goes, from academia to the workplace, they speak up for their rights, believing that every human being has a right to be heard and respected for who they are. Talking points: - (0:00 - 5:56) Podcast info, current events in Chile, and introducing Dee - (5:57 - 13:00) Issues with gendered language in Spanish; roadblocks for trans Chileans - (13:01 - 14:46) Family denial, organizational and online support - (14:47 - 20:53) Leaving religion after harmful experiences in Catholicism; Christianity should not be rich or whitewashed - (20:54 - 24:45) Racism and xenophobia in Chile -- migrants and refugees - (24:46 - 37:10) Fighting to have name and pronouns respected in school and at work; fighting to have disability recognized -- wanting better rights for those who come after us - (37:11 - 47:15) Dee's plans for the future -- biochemistry, accommodations, starting a YouTube vlog, continuing "out of spite" - (47:16 - 49:07) Chile as a "developing country" - (49:08 - end) Wrapping up the episode You can find Dee on twitter @DeeGarnicaO and on Instagram @nonbinaryq. Find the episode transcript at transchristianity.com/podcast
October 29, 2019
How are trans people like Jonah? - A Jewish trans woman's perspective
Announcement: Blessed Are the Binary Breakers is going on a hiatus until October! This is the last episode of season 1 of this podcast. The next episode will come up at the end of October. In the meantime, I invite trans and/or nonbinary people from any faith background to send me their stories of how they have been a gift to their faith communities for a special episode of this show. Send those stories in audio or text format to firstname.lastname@example.org by December 1. In this episode, I do not interview anyone but rather discuss Joy Ladin's introduction to her 2019 text The Soul of the Stranger: Reading God and Torah from a Transgender Perspective. In this text, Ladin compares her attempt to flee from her womanhood to Jonah's attempt to flee from his identity as a prophet. Like Jonah, trans people's decision to live into who they are enriches their communities, just as Jonah's eventual acceptance of his call helps Nineveh.
August 14, 2019
Rev. Jo Inkpin is flourishing with a trans-ing God
After coming out several years ago, Josephine Inkpin became the first openly transgender priest in the Anglican Church of Australia. Born in England, where she and her wife were part of the fight for women's ordination, Jo moved to Australia in 2000 and now helps fight not just for the inclusion of LGBTQA+ persons, but for their affirmation and celebration. In this episode, Jo envisions the Kingdom of God as a banquet where all are not only allowed at the table but can transform it, and where worship is a party where we are opened to ever-new experiences of God. She explores what it means to worship a God who is artist and art, trans-ing and constantly urging the Church "to trans" as well. Jo also discusses the gifts that trans persons offer their faith communities as agents of transformation, and why it's imperative for some of us to stay and speak up even while others find it necessary to step away. For some more details on Jo's personal journey, see this article: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-02-23/australias-first-transgender-priest/9477100 Explore more of Jo's incredible work at transspirit.org, or follow her on Twitter @blessedimp.
July 24, 2019
Luca is making their community stronger
Luca Alexander is passionate about raising the voices of marginalized women and LGBTQ+ individuals, doing so through their job at the Boston-based consulting team VISIONS, through their scholarship at Boston University, and through participation in queer and Muslim spaces in Boston. In this episode, they discuss becoming a Muslim; navigating hijab, islamophobia, and gender dysphoria; researching gender segregation; and more. In their studies, they have asked the question of how Islam defines "man" and "woman," where trans and nonbinary people fit within the framework of Islamic law, and whether gender segregation is necessarily mandated. While Luca has had to deal with queerphobia and islamophobia at school and elsewhere, they have also found meaningful community through Queer Muslims of Boston, energy in creating art, and healing in Dhikr, chanting the 99 Names of God. You can find Luca @LucaRNAlexander on Twitter.
July 07, 2019
From End Times to a new beginning: Adi is reconstructing their faith
Adi McNally's life is looking up. For one thing, they've just gotten top surgery! Adi's also moved from a church that kept them isolated and fearful to a church that welcomes all that they are; from being in a homeschool group with right wing values to being involved in their college's LGBT community; and from seeing God as a wrathful parent coming to judge us at the End Times to rediscovering scripture in the light of love. Join Adi (age 19) as they discuss growing up in a toxic and manipulative religious environment; discovering the link between their eating disorder and gender dysphoria; meeting other queer people and realizing that all they'd been told about LGBT people was wrong; and learning that doubt and questions are a healthy part of faith. They also share a beautiful poem they wrote after their baptism. content warning: discussions of an eating disorder and getting it treated; nothing too detailed. Where you can find Adi: - On instagram @peas.and.poetry (
June 23, 2019
Alex is a Haitian Vodou Priest
There are fewer than 5 known transgender priests in the Haitian Vodou religion, and as far as he knows Alex Batagi (initiated under the name Bonkira Bon Oungan, "what is good is rare") is the only currently active one. With the guidance of his spiritual mother, Manbo Maude, his spirits, and his community, Houngan Alex has been able to take up the tools of Vodou -- healing, magic, and devotion to the lwa -- to fully recognize his identity as a trans man and work towards the ultimate goal of Vodou: balance in all areas for all people. In this episode, Alex discusses his growth from being a pastor's kid to an agnostic and finally to discovering Haitian Vodou right there in Boston. He has found that the lwa, the spirits, embrace and support his whole self. Alex also talks about what it's like to be a white and non-Haitian practitioner of Vodou, as well as the importance of spirituality and community to trans persons. Where you can find Alex: -- His blog - http://rockofeye.tumblr.com/ -- His Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/bonkirabonhoungan -- His sosyete's YouTube channel, where you can watch ceremonies - https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCwTUPzo0khFiuUojjbA5mRw Episode transcript: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1K7zrbOYpXN0FvcR5T41o3gPbfcbP1Z_RKDTPCm2oyKo/edit?usp=sharing
June 09, 2019
When faith hurts: Sharing stories of transphobic violence
In this episode, five people share their stories of religious hurt. Bryce winces when he hears church music. Neko worries about her family finding out she's LGBT, but dreams of leaving Indonesia to be herself. Ryka discovers that they are gay and trans because it was part of God's plan. Spencer is a "drive-by casualty of religious homophobia," and struggles with their relationship with their parents. Avery struggled in their teenage years simply because no one gave them the language they needed to thrive. My hope for this episode is that listeners who are going through similar pain will feel encouraged to learn that they are not alone; and that all of us will be motivated to compassion -- grieving together and then acting to challenge transphobia and cissexism wherever we find them. Content warnings are offered before each individual's story (both in the audio and below). In general, this episode contains a lot of discussions on transphobia and homophobia (internalized and otherwise); fear of divine rejection; and family and church conflict. Talking points: - Introd: sharing the stories of several people's experiences with transphobic violence in faith communities (0:00-3:23) - Limitations of this episode (3:24-6:45) - Bryce Corcoran's story (he/him) (read by Avery) (CW: homophobia, trans phobia, family rejection, fear of divine rejection, brief mentions of death) - church and family members who do not approve, will not meet his wife (6:46-10:14) - struggling to engage with God because of the damage done in God's name (10:15-11:08) - Neko's story (she/her) (CW: homophobia and transphobia from family, students, and religious groups; internalized homophobia; fear of family rejection / fear of being outed; government censorship) - Living in Indonesia, parents who are church workers; "If they knew, my life would go to ruin" (11:09-18:54) - Hope: finding other LGBT Christians; "I'm getting out of this country someday." (18:55-20:21) - Ryka's story (he/him or they/them) (read by Avery) (CW: transphobia and homophobia, including internalized, including the word "homosexual" used as a slur; fear of divine rejection; mentions of the military) - lacking the language to understand himself (20:22-23:01) - "If God really hates me, why should I love him?" (23:02-24:35) - "I am gay and transgender because it is in God's plans for me." (24:36-26:05) - Spencer's story (they/them) (CW: one use of the F word; homophobia and transphobia; mentions of religious sexism; conflict with parents) - Trying to fix injustice and getting shut down; "I've never been able to forgive them for not listening" (26:06-29:34) - "I didn't have anyone that I trusted to help me sort out my feelings about faith and religion." (29:35-31:46) - Years later -- counseling with parents; “no way to tell a church that’s trying to ‘save’ you that what they’re doing is literally the opposite of salvation” (31:47-32:59) - Avery's story (they/them) (CW: suicide ideation and one brief mention of self harm; queerphobia, especially internalized; puberty discussed) - Learning that gay is a dirty word, that men and women are inherently different (33:00-35:58) - The violence of silence, of being unable to believe we have a happy future ahead (35:59-39:09) - Poem: what I would tell my ten year old self (39:10-44:22) - Wrapping up: I have a Patreon now! (44:23-48:56) Please check it out! https://www.patreon.com/queerlychristian?fbclid=IwAR1ygGPvHVHFdZfQyMjgy2vE8TOEt0dt3IlhbCsOui3C5hA81t4aC5odfcg Ryka can be found on twitter @RSween1. If you are interested in reaching out to Neko, contact Avery.
May 12, 2019
Hanka is a Polish cryptid
Hanka (he/him or she/her) is a 19-year-old bigender lesbian who was born in Warsaw, has lived in places like Belgium and Israel, and is back in Warsaw again. In this interview, Hanka talks about what it's like to be LGBT in Poland, a very Catholic country where the LGBT community is only just entering the public consciousness; how theatre helped her figure out her gender identity; and how he's moved from thinking something's "wrong" with him to recognizing that experiencing anxiety doesn't mean God has left you. Find Hanka on instagram at spagetticathimself, and on tumblr as hanqa-a or dyke-community. Talking points: - Intro, Catholicism in Poland (0:00 - 7:30) - First crush on a girl, questioning sexuality (7:31 - 9:04) - In Poland, LGBT people are "cryptids" -- but awareness is slowly growing (9:05 - 15:47) - Figuring out sexuality and gender, getting into theatre (15:48 - 23:03) - Currently in school for costuming (23:04 - 27:03) - Guilt and doubt, compensating by being "the best Christian" (27:04 - 33:00) - Realizing that anxiety is the problem, not something wrong with him (33:01 - 36:23) - More on trying out different labels; "the gender binary is one big lie" (36:24 - 40:15) - Internalized misogyny while repressing attraction to girls; "I love being 70% a girl!" (40:16 - 41:54) - "Crushes" on guys; "Are you lesbians?" (41:55 - 45:09) - Teaching children English, homophobia against teachers (45:10 - 48:44) - More on LGBT politics in Poland -- "the timeline is so messed up" (48:45 - 52:50) - Struggling to decide whether to come out with friends, others (52:51 - 55:08) - Wrapping up: "Test everything and hold to what's true" (55:09 - 57:08)
April 28, 2019
"God's not gonna leave you": Christian Witchcraft with Phoenyx
Phoenyx (they or she pronouns) is 30 years old, bisexual, working towards becoming a national certified counselor, and has been exploring different religions for the past few years. Raised Catholic and discovering Christian witchcraft around age 13, Phoenyx has also looked into Judaism, Tibetan Buddhism, Unitarian Universalism, Episcopal Christianity, Irish paganism, and more. At the same time they are also questioning their gender, with some terms they currently use including genderflux and nonbinary. Some of the things we discuss in this interview include: the need for LGBT+ therapists; challenges with associating with Christianity when a bigoted form of the faith is in the spotlight; the anxiety but also the richness that comes from living in a state of uncertainty regarding faith; the truth to be found in any religion; and what it means to be a valid trans person and how society tries to make each person "pick" between being gay or straight and to "pick" one gender, one faith. You can find Phoenyx at christ-haunted.tumblr.com or phoenyxoftheashes.tumblr.com. The post that the mention in the interview that explores what the Bible says about witchcraft can be read here: http://phoenyxoftheashes.tumblr.com/post/111134370022/doesnt-the-bible-forbid-witchcraft-and-magic
April 14, 2019
Eli and the prophet Elijah
Eli Rosenberg used to think that being trans was incompatible with faith. But with help from their rabbi, transtorah.org, and the prophet Elijah, they discovered that Judaism has room for all sorts of people and welcomes questions without answers. In this interview, Eli talks about conflict and interpretation. They wrestle with various supposed dualisms, from faith vs. science to being disabled vs. being made in the image of God -- and find that these concepts are not so dichotomous after all. They also discuss the challenges of finding trans-friendly therapists, the pain of dysphoria and the wonders of hrt, support from loved ones, and autism and EDS. Eli can be found on twitter at @chronautist Talking Points: - Avery invites YOU to share your story for a special episode on Faith and Violence (for more details, see: https://tinyurl.com/yx8z75et) (0:00 - 3:23) - Introducing Eli -- nonbinary, disabled, autistic, Jewish (3:24 - 4:13) - Psychology and therapist problems (4:14 - 6:05) - Interpretation and conflict -- Judaism allows for wrestling with God (6:06 - 7:55) - A new rabbi and transtorah.org (7:56 - 10:25) - How Eli got their name: dysphoria and Elijah the prophet (10:26 - 16:30) - "You can't be trans, you're autistic" (16:31 - 18:47) - Testosterone and gender presentation (18:48 - 23:40) - Eli's fiancée, sister, family (23:41 - 30:29) - Love for math and science: "Numbers are the closest we get to the handwriting of God" (30:30 - 33:07) - "This can't be accidental" -- intelligent design and human advancements (33:08 - 36:34) - We are made in God's image -- made to be creative -- tattoos and piercings (36:35 - 42:20) - The medical model vs. the social model of disability (42:21 - 45:36) - Wrapping up (45:37 - 48:16)
March 31, 2019
Adam is a lifelong Methodist
In a previous episode, Adam Richards talked to us about the United Methodist Church's general conference, but we didn't get to hear much about their own life! Adam has a deep love for Wesleyan theology's focus on good fruits and for their university's campus ministry and activist groups. Adam also talks about the support they find from their partner and some family members, the challenges of finding clothing when nonbinary and autistic, and finding the Spirit of Love in secular spaces. Talking points: - Updates on the UMC general conference (0:00 - 2:19) - Introducing Adam: studies, church involvement (2:20-4:57) - Growing up; high school youth group while figuring out sexuality (4:58-7:20) - College: LGBT+ group, activist group (7:21-8:49) - Frank Schaefer: hurt by the UMC, finding hope in campus ministry (8:50-14:40) - The "clobber" passages: trans people and the Bible (14:41-18:35) - Partner -- atheist, but not "unequally yoked" (18:36-20:48) - Family and working through queerphobia (20:49-24:10) - Still not out to their dad as trans; figuring out when to come out; figuring out they're trans (24:11-26:57) - Trans and autistic -- sensory issues vs. dysphoria (26:58-27:44) - The challenges of clothes shopping (27:45-29:57) - The Spirit of Love in secular spaces -- God is where the marginalized are (29:58-31:59) - More on queerness and the Bible (32:00-34:42) - "Ever since coming out, my faith has gotten stronger" (34:43-36:15) - Wesleyan theology -- experiences and fruits (36:17-42:06) - More on clothes: Deuteronomy, even harder when you're nonbinary (42:07-43:42) - Wrapping up (43:43-46:59)
March 17, 2019
Derek loves his family
Derek Guy has a lot of love to give: for his family, for the youth he's worked with, and for communities where he can fully be himself as a Black trans man. In this episode, Derek describes how he's been able to transform his traumatic experiences with church hurt and attending a conversion therapy camp into strength he uses to serve youth and adults as a social worker. He talks about identifying more as spiritual than Christian, believing in a higher power and, with his wife, doing what he can to give his son a solid foundation in spirituality. Derek also talks about the life-giving power of finding communities where he feels supported and welcomed, and the pain and frustration when communities fail to be that -- with concrete advice to communities that want to learn to be more inclusive! Derek wants listeners to know he can be found on most social media sites if you search DerekJGuy -- check him out! Talking points: - Introducing Derek: from Atlanta to Louisville (0:00 - 3:35) - Church: goes to Bible studies, not worship services; work to do regarding trans inclusion (3:36 - 5:17) - Identifies as spiritual; thoughts on the Bible; raised Christian (5:18 - 8:08) - Conversion camp -- "voluntarily" went so he could be a youth mentor -- church hurt and love, trauma and strength (8:09 - 12:59) - The church that sent him to conversion camp is affirming now -- the consequences of ignorance (13:00 - 15:25) - Coming out -- to his dad 4 times, to his mom, to his family (15:26 - 21:45) - The power of community: the Black Trans Conference of America; advocating for trans kids at work (21:46 - 24:49) - Giving his son the resources to make his own choices -- gender and religion (24:50 - 32:25) - Thoughts on theology -- hard to find accessible queer theology; politics of church structure (32:26 - 36:59) - Slow-going trans inclusion -- the bathroom issue (37:00 - 40:20) - Derek's specific advice for churches on bathroom signs, inclusive language, gendered groups, etc. (40:21 - 47:17) - Why trans inclusion NEEDS to be a priority: we are an "endangered" group (47:18 - 52:20) - LGBT groups have this issue too -- LGB needs to remember the T (and POC); Derek had to step down as Mr. KPF (52:21 - 55:40) - "people only care about trans people when we're dying, not when we're trying to live;" we are forceful because this is an urgent situation (55:41 - 59:45) - Pain around baptism; "It made me feel rejected .... That's when I did stop going to church" (59:46 - 1:04:20) - Still he stays -- still has found community in this church, and so has his son (1:04:21 - 1:07:05) - "Find your people" (1:07:06 - end)
March 03, 2019
The UMC General Conference: a nonbinary Methodist's hopes and fears
From February 23-26, 2019, the United Methodist Church is holding a special general conference specifically for the discussion of "human sexuality." The outcome will impact all members of the UMC, but particularly those within it who are LGBTQ+. In this special episode, nonbinary Methodist Adam Richards was good enough to walk me through the various possible outcomes of this conference. While doing so, they shared their own story -- their love for Methodism and why they stay despite pain and frustation, their plans to pursue a calling to ordination, and the differences they've noticed between LGB issues and trans issues in Methodist churches. Talking points: - Introducing Adam and LGBT+ discussions in the UMC (0:00 - 5:14) - M Barclay and LGBT+ resilience (5:15 - 6:34) - Constant conflict at previous General Conferences (6:35 - 8:42) - This February's special General Conference: 3 main plans (8:43 - 10:56) - Possible consequences for congregations and for LGBT+ individuals (10:57 - 12:51) - Why Adam stays (12:51 - 15:04) - Congregations don't know; lack of knowledge and resources about trans people (15:05 - 19:46) - The discussion is focused on the wrong thing -- property instead of actual people; allies lack resources (19:47 - 22:39) - The consequences land on LGBTQ+ people; "live in my shoes" (22:40 - 23:50) - Groups who want to do LGBTQ+ actual harm; what this is really about: "You hate us" (23:51 - 26:51) - Schism will be a sad thing even if necessary (26:52 - 30:10) - Adam's journey to ordained ministry -- "no matter what, I will be ordained"; Spirit and spite (30:11 - 38:12)
February 22, 2019
Willow errs on the side of grace
Join me and Willow Hovingh as she shares her experiences as a trans woman transitioning in her fifties. Coming out has brought Willow an abundance of blessings in her personal well-being, her work life and church life, and in her relationships with friends and family, including her trans son. Talking points: - Willow introduces herself -- a "late bloomer" who came out at 52 (0:00 - 3:20) - Growing up unchurched (3:21 - 4:10) - Joining a church, "searching for something" (4:11 - 4:59) - The "lowest difficulty settings" in the game of life, but still different, "the weird kid" (5:00 - 9:30) - Enrolling at Louisville Seminary, first inklings of being trans put on the shelf for 20 years (9:31 - 16:15) - Willow's "sandpaper suit;" everything uncomfortable (16:16 - 17:20) - "God bless estrogen" -- starting her transition and discovering gender euphoria! (17:21 - 18:49) - Supported by her long-time church, rich in LGBT ministers (18:50 - 23:17) - The power of a recognition of name-change rite (23:18 - 25:27) - Erring on the side of grace (25:28 - 26:44) - Gender and calling: what are the things that you can't not do? (26:45 - 28:45) - Ready to come out: "I don't give a hoot"; medical experiences; coming out at work (28:46 - 32:36) - "If you had told me then" - a happy woman (32:37 - 35:55) - Justin Tanis' book and the idea of gender as calling; "I can't go back" (35:56 - 37:26) - Coming out to her kid and her parents; enriched relationships (37:27 - 40:57) - Willow's message for pastors: "Are you ready?" (40:58 - 42:31) - Resistance through being visible (42:32 - 43:41) - Parenting a trans person (43:42 - 44:37) - It's okay to make mistakes (44:38 - 45:55) - Focusing on blessings and gratitude (45:56 - 47:27) - Willow and her son support each other (47:28 - 49:42) - Free from that sandpaper suit (49:43 - 50:42) - A message for the muggles (cis straight folks) (50:43 - 52:08)
February 17, 2019
Avery’s genderqueer calling
In this first episode, Avery discusses what made them start up this podcast. They then explore how genderqueerness is part of the vocation they have been discerning since their childhood days of preaching homilies to stuffed animals, all the way through their present studies at Louisville Seminary. Talking points: - The goal is to be a podcast for trans and nonbinary persons of all faiths and experiences (0:00 - 3:05) - Introducing the interviewer, Leah, and digging into Avery's childhood (3:06-6:15) - Avery's faith practices growing up -- scripture and sermonizing (6:16-11:00) - Avery's journey to recognizing their genderqueerness (11:01-16:09) - Internalized misogyny? Avery's nonbinary femininity and Leah's "tomboyness" (16:10-20:00) - Educating churches on trans issues (20:01-22:03) - Avery's three-branched vocation: pastorhood, genderqueerness, and marriage (22:04-24:03) - Breaking binaries between Catholicism and Protestantism -- Avery holds both traditions in their heart (24:04-27:14) - Avery and Leah share their final words of wisdom (27:15-end) Where else you can find Avery: - queerlychristian.tumblr.com - Queerly Christian on Youtube, including their video "God's Presence in transition - top surgery and hrt" - Their website "Trans Christianity: A Timeline of Gender Diversity in Christian History" - https://queerlychristian.wixsite.com/transchristianity - email@example.com
January 21, 2019