“Trans Indian Jesus” was painted recently by an artist from India. It is posted at Q Spirit for International Transgender Day of Visibility (March 31).
Transgender Christian images are needed now because religious bigotry is one factor behind the rise in anti-transgender violence. Transgender women of color and transgender students are most impacted by the violence, so it is especially valuable to see Christ pictured as a trans person of color.
Artist Immanuel Paul Vivekanandh painted the transgender Indian vision of Christ during the Council of World Mission’s Global Painting Retreat in Tainan, Taiwan in 2016.
The image shows Christ with a rainbow halo and transgender symbol. This Jesus appears to be male on the left and female on the right. Christ’s Indian identity is suggested by a sacred bindi mark on the forehead and a nose ring.
The motif of a half-male, half-female deity split down the middle is not new in Indian religious art. Ardhanarisvara is a Hindu deity embodying the god Shiva on one side and his wife Parvati on the other. Artistic depictions of the “hermaphrodite” deity date back 2,000 years and new versions continue to be popular.
Vivekanandh is a communication secretary for the Evangelical Lutheran Churches in India. Previously he worked there as coordinator for the Dalit and Adivasi concerns desk. He lives in Chennai (formerly known as Madras), capital of the state of Tamil Nadu in eastern India.
He has a Bachelor of Divinity degree from Gurukul Lutheran Theological College and Research Institute and a Master of Arts degree in English literature from Jamal Mohammed College.
International Transgender Day of Visibility was founded in 2010 by Rachel Crandall, the head of Transgender Michigan. The goal is to celebrate the trans community. The better known Transgender Day of Remembrance (Nov. 20) is a day of mourning, but Transgender Day of Visibility focuses on empowerment.
Transgender Christian books
“The Bible and the Transgender Experience: How Scripture Supports Gender Variance” by Linda Tatro Herzer (2016)
“Transgender, Intersex and Biblical Interpretation” by Teresa Hornsby and Deryn Guest (2016)
“This Is My Body: Hearing the Theology of Transgender Christians” by Christina Beardsley and Michelle O’Brien (editors) (2016)
Children’s book: “Transgender Children of God” by Megan Rohrer (2016)
Omnigender: A Trans-religious Approach by Virginia Mollenkott (2001)
Transgendering Faith: Identity, Sexuality, and Spirituality by Leanne Tigert (editor)
Transgender Day of Remembrance: Spiritual resources (Qspirit.net)
This post is part of the Queer Christ series by Kittredge Cherry at the Jesus in Love Blog. The series gathers together visions of the queer Christ as presented by artists, writers, theologians and others
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