Thanks to a $100,000 grant from the Henry Luce Foundation, a pair of religious studies professors have started up the first journal “dedicated to expanding both scholarly and public knowledge about the full range of rich and complex connections between religion, gender, and sexuality.”
According to UC Riverside News, the QTR: A Journal of Trans and Queer Studies in Religion is a peer-reviewed publication and founded by the University of California Riverside’s Melissa Wilcox and Joseph Marchal of Ball State University (pictured).
The QTR (Queer, Trans, Religion) website notes the journal will “explore Christianity, Buddhism, Jewish communities and other faith groups through a queer and trans studies lens” and “feature queer and trans approaches to sacred texts as well as ways trans and queer people have created their own religious spaces.”
“Religion is historically a part of both oppression and resistance, and the work of scholars and creatives in this area can help us all to better understand and intervene in these dynamics,” Wilcox said.
Wilcox also notes on the QTR site that the new journal will allow for a more in-depth examination of queer theory than articles in “mainstream” journals.
The UC Riverside report notes the fledgling journal comes as numerous “anti-LGBTQ” bills have been introduced in many U.S. states which “challenge or restrict gender-transition care for minors, trans sports laws, books, and even drag shows.”
Studying trans and queer people in religion is an opportunity to grow in knowledge and to debunk sometimes baseless interpretations of Christian teachings that underlie a lot of the newest wave of trans antagonism, Wilcox said.
Marchal said while students and communities are craving knowledge on issues surrounding this topic many higher education institutions and communities are still playing catch up with the decades of research on queer and trans studies in religion.
QTR’s forthcoming companion website will include more bite-sized examples of research to understand how sexuality, gender, and religion are historically interconnected. The website will include multimedia, blog-style entries, and other resources to address general interest in this area.
“There is an abundance of desire to learn about religion and gender and sexuality. These aspects of life are intertwined, even intimately connected,” Marchal said. “When people start learning about this stuff, they tend to be surprised, because most have only learned the limited approaches that certain hierarchical institutions have taken when talking about our bodies, our sexuality, our genders.
Wilcox organized the first UCR Conference on Queer and Transgender Studies in Religion in 2019 which featured a keynote address on “Rabbinic Gender and the Politics of Trans Cosmology.” It also included the sessions “What Queer Mormons Can Tell Us About Queer Theory,” “The White, Cis/Straight Entitlement to Sexual Expression in Evangelical Christianity” and “Rethinking (Dis)connections Between Islam and Trans Identity in Turkey.”
In addition, Wilcox has long been interested in the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, the “international, religiously unaffiliated order of self-declared queer nuns” which “parodies Roman Catholic traditions in a playful, campy form of activism.”
Embroiled in controversy earlier this year, the Sisters are chronicled in her book “Queer Nuns: Religion, Activism, and Serious Parody.”
IMAGE: UC Riverside, Ball State U.