The modern word cisgender means with the same gender from conception/birth. Cisgender is the opposite of transgender. The Latin prefix “trans” – as in the words transport, transition, and transitive – means across. Transgender means across gender. The Latin prefix “cis” is the opposite of “trans” and means “on the same side of.” Someone who is a cismale (like I am), is a man whose self-identity conforms with the male gender with which he was born.
God from my view
In Western culture, many children – including me – originally conceptualized God as an old white man with a beard. As (the) God (of my understanding) is no longer the same as this childish notion of God as a corporeal male, I assuredly state that God is not cisgender.
Moreover, as I do not believe that God is female, I equally declare God is not transgender. (This fits very nicely with the notion of negative theology – the idea that the only things we can say about God with certainty are what God isn’t, not what God is.)
As God’s gender identity is neither male nor female, God is neither cis nor transgender.
God from the Bible
It is wrongly assumed that the Bible – often considered a source book on understanding the divine – claims God as male. This widely-held belief is bolstered in linguistic nouns used for the divine such as “Lord” and “Father.” However, these masculine nouns must be integrated with unabashedly equally-feminine images of God, for example as mother:
- [God speaking:] “As a mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you.” Isaiah 66:13
- [Moses speaking:] “You were unmindful of the Rock that bore you; you forgot the God who gave you birth.” Deuteronomy 32:18
- [God speaking:] “Like a bear robbed of her cubs, I will attack them and tear them asunder…” Hosea 13:8
When, playfully, I have asked people what race they imagine God is, they often tell me that the concept of God is beyond the concept of race.
So, too, God is beyond the concept of gender.
Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan wrote
G-d has no body, no genitalia, therefore the very idea that G-d is male or female is patently absurd. Although in the Talmudic part of the Torah and especially in Kabalah G-d is referred to under the name ‘Sh’chinah’ – which is feminine, this is only to accentuate the fact that all the creation and nature are actually in the receiving end in reference to the creator and as no part of the creation can perceive the Creator outside of nature, it is adequate to refer to the divine presence in feminine form. We refer to G-d using masculine terms simply for convenience’s sake, because Hebrew has no neutral gender; G-d is no more male than a table is.
Note: the Jewish convention of writing “G-d” traditionally signifies that the divine name is both unknowable and holy.
If pushed for a label, I would say God is extragender. The Latin prefix extra means beyond – as in extraterrestrial or extraordinary. God is beyond gender.
Here are some thoughts of others that reflect my extragendered conceptualization of the divine – all beyond a notion of corporality and gender.
- Predicate theology is the notion of “acting” godly. It’s the concept of God not as a noun, but as an active verb. As an analogy, a person can act Scrooge-like, whether Ebenezer Scrooge was an actual person or not. Accordingly, people — no matter what they believe or don’t believe — can act godly.
- Twentieth-century German-American psychologist and humanistic philosopher Erich Fromm tells us that God is “not the internalized voice of an authority whom we are eager to please and afraid of displeasing; it is the voice of our total personality expressing the demands of life and growth.”
- Sixth-century BCE philosopher and author of Tao Te Ching, Lao-Tsu wrote: “There was something formless and perfect before the universe was born. It is serene. Empty. Unchanging. Infinite. Eternal. Present. It is the mother of the universe. For lack of a better name, I call it God.”
#wisdom_biscuit: If you can easily put it in a box, it isn’t God.