Date of Award

Summer 7-16-2021

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Braiterman, Zachary J.

Second Advisor

Gray, Biko M.


Black Churches, queerness, Transgender studies, transness, Transphobia

Subject Categories

African American Studies | Arts and Humanities | Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies | Race, Ethnicity and Post-Colonial Studies | Religion


This thesis looks at how black church communities address ongoing violence against transgender and queer people in the United States. It posits criticism of religious intolerance from transgender and queer perspectives do not always mean skepticism of Christianity itself. Criticism can, however, mean skepticism of the institutions that police gender and sexual normativity. The premise of this thesis rests on the idea that there is an inherent conflict between gender-queer identities and Christian ideologies that produce violence against queer people. My aim is to deconstruct this notion by analyzing differing stories, perspectives, and power-relations. I accomplish this first by looking at some experiences black transgender people recall growing up in black churches and how their religious backgrounds shaped their perspectives, political affiliations, and relationships. Next, I look at what black church leaders have said and done to either include or exclude transgender people from their theologies in response to criticisms about intolerance. And finally, I look at how to move forward as a community and what black churches can do to reach out to transgender and other gender non-conforming people in calling for radical political change regarding black people living in the United States.


Open Access



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