Alex Clare-Young (they/them/Alex) is a pioneer minister. Alex is passionate about advocating for the inclusion of, and social justice for, all people. Alex is interested in curating safer spaces for those who are marginalised or oppressed in society and put off by church.
Alex researches, writes, teaches, speaks and consults on identity and theology. They also regularly lead workshops on inclusion and affirmation in secular and religious contexts. They have worked as a consultant and educator for several charities, denominations, businesses, schools and universities. Alex advocates passionately for social justice, and provides advice and opinion on trans visibility, acceptance and inclusion in the UK. As a keen supporter of LGBTQ+ charities and organisations, Alex is co-chair of the Open Table Network, and is a consultant for One Body One Faith and member of Creating Sanctuary.
Alex is completing research at the University of Birmingham, kindly funded by the Council for World Mission, into the identities, lived experiences and theological understandings of trans people. They are also an ordained minister in the United Reformed Church and will, from April 2022, be working as a pioneer minister in Cambridge City Centre. Alex’s first book, Transgender. Christian. Human., was published in 2019. They regularly write for a wide range of publications and enjoy receiving challenging commissions!
Alex Clare-Young, “Reimagining Gender Transition as a Journey Towards Delight”
As a transmasculine non-binary person, my identity and life has been framed by a cis-hetero-normative society as one of abject misery, irresolvable dysphoria, and abnormal pathology. As a theologian, I have come to understand that theological texts related to transgender and non-binary identities are blighted by the same cis-hetero-normativity and, as a result, attempt to limit theological and anthropological discussions and texts about trans identities and lives to ethical debates and resulting critiques or apologetics. This both supports and furthers transphobic ideologies.
One of the key findings of my research with ten diverse trans and non-binary interview participants was a strong challenge to problematization, and narratives framed by suffering. Rather, participants framed their own understandings of identity transition around joy, mirroring, and euphoria. Further, their theological understandings were framed by a joyful understanding of both God and humanity.
In this paper I argue that:
- Gender transition is a journey towards delight.
- There is need for an increase in trans-related theological anthropologies which explore the gifts of trans and non-binary identities.
- Trans and non-binary people point towards a joyful theological understanding of a God who dances with God’s trans and non-binary children.
- Trans and non-binary testimonies enable other people and institutions to be freed from cis-hetero-normativity and to re-imagine their own identities and theological understandings.