An annual progressive Christian festival that draws oldline Protestants and disaffected former evangelicals will feature workshops on transgenderism and “Intersex” next month.
Inspired by Britain’s annual Greenbelt festival, the Wild Goose Festival brings performers, yoga practitioners, speakers and artists to a multi-day campout in the mountains of western North Carolina August 8-11. In its first two years, Wild Goose speakers promoted an assortment of liberal causes – peppered with sharp critiques of Southern Baptists and other conservative evangelicals.
Wild Goose has broached issues of human sexuality before, welcoming gay and lesbian speakers and exhibitors in 2011 and 2012. The unofficial United Methodist Reconciling Ministries Network will have a presence at Wild Goose this year, and former Contemporary Christian Music artist Jennifer Knapp has brought her “Inside Out Faith” program to the festival. Tony Campolo and his wife Peggy have also spoken at Wild Goose about the church’s response to homosexuality.
In 2013, Wild Goose is apparently getting wilder. Among the workshops highlighted at next month’s gathering will be a talk by Asher Kolieboi, co-founder of the Legalize Trans* campaign, on creating “trans* inclusive faith communities.” Kolieboi’s talk will be entitled “Galatians 3:28,” referencing the verse “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
Festival goers will also have the opportunity to hear a talk on “welcoming the intersexed among us” titled “When Male and Female Is Not Enough.”
As we have the previous two years, IRD will send a team to report on the festival’s speakers. Both of the above workshops should be intriguing. Kolieboi was born a woman, now “Trans Man,” who self-describes as an “artivist” (activist and artist). Co-founder of the arts collective Queer Sol in Austin, Kolieboi was featured in The Advocate Magazine’s “Top 40 under 40” LGBTQ activists for work with the Soulforce Equality Ride, where Kolieboi served as the Co-Director of Young Adult Activism.
The discussion on “intersex” will feature Lianne Simon, author of Confessions of a Teenage Hermaphrodite, a young adult novel about an “intersex” teen. Born with a mix of testicular and ovarian tissue, Simon was raised, for a time, as a boy and eventually came to identify as female.
While not as prominent in gender and sexuality conversations as homosexuality or transgenderism, “intersex” is an umbrella term for people either having traits of both sexes or identifying with neither. Transgender activists often point to “intersex” persons as evidence for their claim that biological sex is not binary, but instead a continuum.
Simon will be joined by Megan DeFranza, a professor at evangelical Gordon College who has written about sexuality. Interestingly, DeFranza attends a conservative Anglican parish. The Gordon College professor recently appeared on a panel discussion at Episcopal Divinity School in which she examined the eunuchs of the Bible and suggested that such a study would be helpful for Evangelicals in understanding how to approach intersex persons.