- Editors' Introduction
The struggle to transform the academy and society so that all persons are valued and together build just, holistic, and sustainable communities includes unfailing efforts to forge alliances across our differences and amid our persistent inequities. As Sara Ahmed has insisted, "We have to take a chance to combine our forces. There is nothing necessary about a combination. In chipping away, we come into contact with those who are stopped by what allowed us to pass through. We happen upon each other. We witness the work each other is doing, and we recognize each other through that work. And we take up arms when we combine our forces. We speak up. We rise up."1 This special issue of the JFSR is an exploration of the productive crossings between, on the one hand, queer and trans theorizations, pedagogical practices, and lived realities as they pertain to studying, teaching, and doing religion and, on the other, feminist and womanist approaches to the study and practice of religious traditions.
This issue is not just about queer and trans theory and practice but consists of dialogues between persons who variously identify as queers, transmen, transwomen, gays, lesbians, and straights. We deeply appreciate their willingness to share their scholarly expertise and personal experience of the fraught nexus of religion, gender, and sexuality, and we salute their courage in defying, daily, the force of heteropatriarchal dehumanization. This force is frequently lethal. At least twenty-eight trans persons were murdered in the United States in 2017—most were transwomen of color.2 Particularly significant, then, is Max Strassfeld's plea in this issue that we consider "the lives and the resiliencies of trans women of color as religion" (51, emphasis added). Surely, the willingness to live and identify as one feels one's conscience demands—despite such risks—is nothing short of extraordinary. It is a feat that necessitates transformed visions and practices of justice, self-care, family, and community. We wish to highlight the work of two individuals who are daily engaged in this work: [End Page 1] Lisa Anderson is vice president of Embodied Justice Leadership at Auburn Theological Seminary and founding director of the newest (2013) signature program of that initiative, the Sojourner Truth Leadership Circle. Meet STLC's incredible 2017 cohort of trans activists at http://auburnseminary.org/stlc/. Jennicet Gutiérrez is founding member of La Familia Trans Queer Liberation Movement, http://familiatqlm.org/. See and hear her publicly challenge former president Barak Obama on the perilous conditions undocumented queer and trans persons face when they are detained in the United States: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ER9_M002aQY.3 This special issue is also a belated (and ongoing) reckoning with the scholarly credentialing of hateful transphobia on the part of white feminist theorists of religion, particularly Janice Raymond and Mary Daly.4 Their denunciation of transwomen as dangerous imposters who lure "real" women into the false belief that they are one of them is an all too familiar motif in the history of religion. The logic of feminists like Raymond and Daly has affinities with both the suspicion and paranoia that fueled Spanish and Portuguese Catholic persecutions of Jewish conversos/marranos in the fourteenth through sixteenth centuries and contemporary Islamophobia in the United States.5 Nonetheless, it is difficult to make sense of Daly's apparent belief in a particular criterion of womanhood, whether that be the experience of oppression or a particular anatomy. After all, she reduced (egregiously) various practices of social and political domination (including some "castrated" men) to "being treated like women" and she envisioned a feminist revolution that would be heralded by altered bodies: "Our inner eyes open, our inner ears become unblocked."6 On this second point, Daly was surely right: a feminist future entails bodily transformation. She was profoundly wrong, however, to authorize the policing of those genders and bodies.
JFSR has a long-standing commitment to being accessible (and enjoyable!) to a range of voices, styles, and audiences. Nonetheless, this issue, more so than previous ones, assembles a multiplicity of voices and a range of writing formats and genres. This is in keeping with queer...