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Book Review - Transforming

Another book review for Pride month!

I came across Austen Hartke on a The Bible for Normal People podcast and I loved listening to him so I knew I had to read his book. Hartke is a transgender Christian and is the creator of the YouTube series Transgender and Christian. His education is from Luther Seminary's Master of Arts program in Old Testament/Hebrew Bible Studies. Transforming is his first book.

Transforming is a compelling book exploring transgender identity through scripture. Austen Hartke uses his exhaustive knowledge of scripture from seminary along with anecdotes of other transgender individuals to guide the reader through an understanding of sexual diversity in the kingdom of God.

He starts out easy for those of us new to gender differences (although, I guess, having a genderfluid child, I'm not completely new to the gender spectrum). The first few chapters explain the differences between sex and gender and introduce the idea of the lack of a gender binary.

The rest of the book is chapters that include both introductions to transgender Christians and their journeys as well as theological concepts applicable to the transgender experience. One of my favorite chapters was about the passage in Matthew 19:11-12: "Jesus replied, “Not everyone can accept this word, but only those to whom it has been given. 12 For there are eunuchs who were born that way, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others—and there are those who choose to live like eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it.”". This has always just been kind of a black box of text to me, but Hartke explicates it well and opens up a whole world of possibilities. There are similar chapters about the Ethiopian eunuch, the early parts of Genesis, and Galatians 3 that come alive with Hartke's engaging writing.

The book ends with a hopeful note about transgender Christians being fully part of the kingdom of God. Hartke gives suggestions on how we can all be more fully part of our local congregations and provides resources for those in need.

I strongly recommend Transforming for anyone interested in transgender Christians and the Bible. Get reading!

Catherine