Was St. Joan of Arc a medieval French heroine who followed God’s instructions and united her country against the marauding English? Or was she a dude Jay Michaelson sat next to in his Queer Theory survey class?
Michaelson, writing for The Daily Beast, recently bashed the 2014 Southern Baptist Convention for declaring, to his ears, that, “Trans People Don’t Exist.” He vented that “the Southern Baptist Convention has gone ahead and decided gender is only about your junk” – and countered the decision by claiming St. Joan of Arc as a transgender.
“Conservative Christians,” Michaelson explained, “are threatened by transgender people for the same reason they were threatened by Galileo: Because the world just isn’t the way their traditions say it is.” He continued by delving into definitions: “Trans people exist; they experience their gender as different from their sex.” To prove that “it has always been this way,” he offered up Queen Christine of Sweden and St. Joan of Arc as prime transgender examples.
(Nice. Now the Catholics won’t feel left out!)
To begin his “informed critique,” he bashed the convention for making transgenders “a matter of theology, not rationality.” (The two are incompatible, of course.) Because, despite the eunuchs and intersex people in the Bible, “If you’ve got a penis, you’re a man, plain and simple.”
But then he admitted that the convention acknowledged transgenders when the “unqualified assembly of 5,000 people” confirmed: “We invite all transgender persons to trust in Christ and to experience renewal in the gospel.” Which, meant nothing to Michaelson because the convention’s resolution also highlighted things like, “We affirm God’s good design that gender identity should be determined by biological sex and not by one’s self-perception.”
Because the resolution opposed transgender protections like the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and gender-reassignment surgery “of any kind,” Michaelson called out the convention for “legal, familial, and institutional persecution.”
Michaelson then dusted off some academic tropes. Baptists, he said, are scaredy-cats because “the hierarchies of male and female are essential to the forms of social control their ideologies seek to promote.” He translated the resolution into, “We don’t like the effects of transgender reality, so we’re simply going to deny that it even exists by misquoting the Bible instead of engaging with the evidence” – which, in his words, is “radically anti-science, anti-rational position, albeit couched in calm, even analytical terms.”
By centering beliefs on “non-rational misreadings of sacred text,” the Baptist Convention’s resolution proves “harmful to the idea of democracy itself” and to “transgender people who find themselves trapped in communities ruled by this cruelty and ignorance.”
So the Baptists refusing to play make-believe with Michaelson is an existential threat to our pluralistic system of governance? How dramatic! And you thought enthusiasm for transgenderism was just another passing liberal fad.
— Katie Yoder is Staff Writer, Joe and Betty Anderlik Fellow in Culture and Media at the Media Research Center. Follow Katie Yoder on Twitter.