What is gender identity? What are the different types of genders? How does religion affect people of varying gender identities? Well, this paper discusses and examines the aforementioned questions from an in-depth and comprehensive perspective. The paper outlines the definition of gender identity by differentiating gender identity from sexual orientation. It then addresses how different religious viewpoints towards the diverse gender identities, which include the women, men and the transgender. In essence, although the LGBTQ is perceived as a representation of different gender identities, only the transgender is classified as a gender identity. The other LGBQ are sexual orientations, thus will not be discussed in this paper. Nonetheless, the thesis is to scrutinize on how diverse gender identities (male, female and transgender) relate with different aspects of religion.
Studies on Women vs. Men Representation in Religion
Female representation in religion is greater than the male gender, which shows their higher level of religiosity. Surveys dating back in the 1930s have proved such conclusions; however, it was not until the 1980s that scholars began exploring the explanations of this gap in representation between men and women in religion. For most scholars, the assumption was women were more religious mainly due to cultural differences predominant in the European and North American countries practicing Christianity (Christ and Plaskow, p.276). However, studies started focusing on other religions and faiths, and thus similar patterns were accurate. More than four decades of studies have resulted in extensive data appreciating and explaining the complexities of female and male representations in religion. Some of the explanations are biologically based while more convincing illustrations are socially based. Nonetheless, despite substantial research on male versus female representation, little study has been done on the transgender people and their relationship with religion.
Representation and Acceptance of the Transgender
The limited available studies indicate the transgender Muslims experience massive and colossal identity conflict with their religion, which mainly stems from the Islamic cultural condemnation. For the Sikh and Hindus, the beliefs do not overtly forbid the transgender, but they do not necessarily accept them unconditionally. Glas et al. (2018 p.687) claim that members of the transgender community experience hostility and prejudice from their religions. They are asked to either stay silent about their gender orientation or leave the religion. Due to this shunning, the transgender people are less likely to involve themselves in organized religion. Thus, this is a negative aspect for the transgender people who are firmly attached to their religions. Affiliations with a specific religion have psychological and spiritual benefits to the transgender people.
Therefore, once the transgender is cut from their religion and beliefs, they end up resorting to spirituality rather than being religious (Beagan et al. p.93). The transgender people mainly leave organized religions altogether because they believe the said religion(s) are biased. For some of the transgender people, the process of religious integration involves changing religions from their previous beliefs to new explorations. Also, if shunned, they may as well reduce participation in their religious denomination.
Theories Proving these Stats
As explained by Leszczyńska and Zielińska (2016 p.7), men’s less religiosity is due to innate tendency to risk-taking behaviors, which makes them more willing to gamble that there is punishment in the afterlife. As a result, women are more religious with the intentions of avoiding eternal punishment in the afterlife. Levy and Edmiston (2017 p.69) further hypothesize a biological perspective, whereby men’s higher levels of testosterone increases men’s risk-taking tendencies, thus cementing the idea of men being less religious because they are not afraid to take risks on the existence of the afterlife.
Conversely, Smith (2016 par.14) contends by noting that religiosity in men and women cannot be explained from a biological point of view, thus righting off the aspect of risk-taking tendencies from men’s higher levels of testosterone. Rather, the difference in relations between men and women and religion is explainable a sociological perspective. For instance, women are more religious than their counterparts because of their dominant roles in childbirth, and the possibility of losing the child, which keeps them closer to religion. The other social reason is for men to pressure women to become religious and thus be able to control female sexuality.
The other explanation is the social setup, particularly in regards to the workforce. The fact that men are constantly working and women taking “less pressuring” roles has forced men to succumb to secularized forces, which reduce the believability of religious faiths. That is, at workplaces, men find themselves in situations that are less religious and thus the need to avoid religious beliefs. This is backed up by the insurgence of women into the workforce, whereby most of whom have taken similar roles to men end up being less religious. It is further predicted that the gap and difference in spiritual relationship between men and women will eventually disappear. This is due to the changing roles whereby men and women share workforce roles and social responsibilities. Women in the equally high paying jobs as men are less religious because they face less social validations from their fellow women who are not in similar positions.
Modern and Current Religious Integration
As noted by Glas et al. (2018 p.687), the male and female genders are having an easier time relating to different religions. However, similar sentiments cannot be said of the transgender community. Religion in the modern and current times is changing to adapt to the new social setups that did not exist in the past. For instance, the representation of men in religion is lower than women has been due to a social structure whereby men mostly worked a lot and thus did not have time to attend churches or go to mosques. Levy and Edmiston (2017 p.69) concur by revealing women current obligations to work like men have resulted in detaching themselves from religion, unlike the past. Similarly, the transgender people are increasingly being accepted rather than shunned, thus making it possible for religions to recognize the diverse gender identity. Although the number of beliefs accepting different diversities like the transgender is minimal, the number is steadily growing.
The above viewpoints above reiterate the perceived thoughts on gender representations in religion, particularly its gap between men and women in terms of their religiousness. At the same time, the paper has noted the relationship between the transgender people and their respective religions. That is, even though many religions lack guiding texts on ways to recognize the transgender, most of them are gradually accepting and welcoming. Therefore, the paper answers the thesis on the difference in religious relations with the different gender identities – men, female and transgender.
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