Trans-Forming Proclamation: A Transgender Theology of Daring Existence

December 2020.

Trans-Forming Proclamation: A Transgender Theology of Daring Existence (2020) by Liam Hooper, M.Div. hazards to put the lived experience of gender-transcendent peoples (for instance, transgender, intersex, or gender non-conforming people) at the center of a creative and constructive theological project. In so doing, Hooper walks out of Church and Synagogue, even away from the Academy, into the Sacred Grove, the eternal Eden within each one of us, where we connect most directly with the kaleidoscopic God who Hooper calls the Abiding One.

To quote the author, “Trans-Forming Proclamation is an expression of diverse gender-transcendent embodiments daring to live on.”

With Trans-Forming Proclamation, Hooper demonstrates his love of both the Hebrew language and the wisdom of nature itself, bouncing back and forth between the insights gleaned from his beloved Grandma Daught and sacred texts dear to both Jewish and Christian traditions. In this remarkable offering of both personal and scholarly importance, Hooper offers a manifesto of sort for gender-transcendent peoples.

Hooper’s approach arguably emerges as a sort of Jewish process theology, but scholars may also notice obvious influences from Black, lesbian, Marxist-feminist, and Womanist schools of thought, as well as queer theory and queer theology. The result is as poetic as it is exegetical—as evocative and mystical as it is any kind of a traditional liberation of theology.  

Indeed, this deep reflection on what it means to be a gender-transcendent person engaging prophetically with a world that literally argues against our existence is, quite simply, a blessing in every turn of the phrase.

What People are Saying

I’m endlessly curious about and fascinated with the spiritual paths and practices of my trans family. Where do we go for refuge when we’re in the grip of overwhelming gender-based desires, anger, and confusion? Trans-forming Proclamation: A Transgender Theology of Daring Existence is a path of joyful, queer, Judaic mysticism, and ecosexuality; at once ecstatic and academic, challenging and comforting. It’s Talmudic wisdom for the rest of us. Thank you, Liam M. Hooper, old friend, for this soul-nourishing vision of gender, trans and beyond.

Kate Bornstein, author of Gender Outlaw: On Men, Women and the Rest of Us 

Trans-Forming Proclamation: A Transgender Theology of Daring Existence is the most comprehensive constructive trans theology I’ve ever read. Indeed, this is the book I wished I had when I was a closeted theology professor afraid to come out as trans! Drawing out rich connections between his grandmother’s Scottish-Muskogee Indigenous wisdom and our shared Jewish ancestors, Liam Hooper proclaims not only a message but a method that is original and liberating. This comprehensive and scholarly, yet practical and personally engaging book is highly recommended for scholars interested in religious studies, gender studies, and queer studies.

The Rev. Dr. Donovan Ackley III,  Current Adjunct Professor at University of Redlands; former Chair of the Department of Theology and Philosophy at Azusa Pacific University.

In language bursting with vitality, theologian Liam M. Hooper exhorts transgender people to recognize their lives as “living proclamations.” Rejecting a view of the world as it has been narrowly constructed in favor of one which sees the world teeming with diversity as it actually is, Hooper’s book of vital insights is a great gift, not only to transgender people but to us all.

Rabbi Mark Sameth, author of The Name: A History of the Dual-Gendered Hebrew Name for God.

This rich book speaks powerfully to the divine creative imagination, in all its diverse and diffuse beauty, as found in the lives and experiences of trans and gender-expansive people. Trans identity is shown to be an authentic, positive reflection of the image of God in humans, who are understood here as existing alongside and being able to learn from the whole breadth of creation. Liam M. Hooper offers the possibility of a life-giving place for trans people in an often ill-fitting, inhospitable world, and claims trans people’s right to seek after the God who, in Hooper’s own words, ‘abides with and speaks to us.’

Dr. Susannah Cornwall, Associate Professor of Constructive Theologies, University of Exeter, UK

Liam Hooper tenderly explores gender and the Bible in a work that defies genre. With rich patches of poetry, memoir, and devotional, Hooper weaves together his inspiring literary insights with grounded, original, and informed scholarship. Trans-Forming Proclamation: A Transgender Theology of Daring Existence is new wine in a new wine skin. Inventive, artful, and liberating. 

Peterson Toscano, performance activist and Bible scholar, creator of Transfigurations—Transgressing Gender in the Bible

We have had centuries of imposed dead-ends, shameful disenfranchisement, and warped consanguinity on our roads to the Divine energy. This book shines a light on a soft, tender path that can lead anyone—but especially gender nonconforming folks—to that same energy we have been told was not our birthright. This book is an invitation to step into and find solace in that Divine embrace that is yours just as much as it is anyone else’s.

Diamond Stylz, executive director of Black Trans Women, Inc and producer of Marsha’s Plate podcast

Glory hallelujah! Liam M. Hoopers’s Trans-forming Proclamation: A Transgender Theology of Daring Existence is a thought-provoking must-read selection. Each chapter is carefully crafted with passion, honesty, and a great deal of love. Liam’s rich use of scripture will open the mind of anyone who truly wants to find the truth of transgender, intersex, and gender non-conforming persons. He carefully mines his own lived experience with bold conviction to provide a wealth of information about those of us most of the world has yet to understand. The poetic beauty and wise insight jumps off the page to give the reader a remarkable understanding of “gender-transcendent” people. It is such a strong, engaging, and sophisticated piece of writing that I had a hard time putting it down. Well done!

Rev. Debra Hopkins
Executive Director, There’s Still Hope
Author of Not Until You Have Walked In My Shoes: A Journey of Discovery & The Spirit of the Human Heart

Trans-forming Proclamation goes beyond theology to offer us a political framework for navigating the world while reminding us that the rituals and tools transgender people create to survive are actually gifts to the world. Liam Hooper invites us to move forward in a way that honors and acknowledges all of humanity while taking care of the most vulnerable among us.

Enzi Tanner, healing-centered coach

An amazing, wonderful, and much needed book. If you accept Hooper’s invitation into the Sacred Grove, you may not want to return.  But as you read on, he shows us how our Groves–sacred sources of our existence, resilience, and resistance–are with and within us, always, wherever we go.

Mycroft Masada, nonbinary Jewish trans leader