Trans/Formations reviewed in Studies in Christian Ethics

Trans/Formations, the edited collection on transgender and theology in which I have a chapter, has been reviewed in Studies in Christian Ethics  24 (2011): 382 by Emily Pennington of the University of Chester. She says,

"Cornwall’s piece is appropriately placed at the start as she perceptively recognises many shared issues. Foremost among these is that of ambiguity and the ways in which it has often been seen as something to be feared and corrected as opposed to appreciated. It is the unknowing that is synonymous with ambiguity that leads Cornwall to her affirmation of apophasis as a means of understanding both God and self as it highlights and emphasises the ‘profoundly ineffable and indescribable nature of the manner in which human sex, gender and sexuality fit together, just as negative theologies have emphasized the unknowability of God’ (p. 17). Cornwall proposes the harmonising of apophasis and kataphasis (p. 20) in a way that is later substantiated by Buchanan’s articulation of her experience of seeking to understand her own gender identity. Buchanan explains that ‘I believe that, in order to know what you are, you must also know what you are not’ (p. 45). These theoretical and experiential perspectives inform one another and the reader with equal success."

Pennington criticizes my suggestion that gender is penultimate, since she fears that it is dismissive of the need of transpeople for stable identities. I'd want to counter that here, as elsewhere (for example, in my essay "The Kenosis of Unambiguous Sex in the Body of Christ", and in longer form in Sex and Uncertainty in the Body of Christ), I'm in no way suggesting that transgender or intersex people's gender is somehow more hazy, less precious, or more easily given up than that of anyone else. In fact, I'm precisely arguing - as Iain Morland so persuasively does - that those of us whose gender and/or sex is not considered ambiguous or particularly contestable must be more willing to give up the benefits of "passing". Importantly, I agree with Elizabeth Stuart (also in Trans/Formations) that the end of gender is an eschatological end - but I also strongly want to affirm a model of eschatology which is, in part, a realized one. It's in living as if the world for which we hope is already instantiated that we help to bring it about - whilst simultaneously acknowledging the "not-yet-ness" of this new way.