Christian Nationalism and
Recent Anti-Trans State Laws
Daniel D. Miller
A number of states, such as Mississippi, Arkansas, and Tennessee, have recently passed laws targeting transgender and gender nonconforming (TGNC) girls and young women, barring them from participating in girls’ and women’s competitive sports. The state of Arkansas also recently passed a law (Arkansas HB1570) criminalizing gender-affirming medical care to (TGNC) youth, such as the prescription of hormone blockers, hormone replacement therapies, and various gender confirming surgeries (already very rare for minors), and states like Alabama are not far behind (see Alabama SB10).
While the GOP and social conservatives of various stripes have long been focused on countering the expansion of LGBTQ+ rights, in recent years they have evidenced a laser-like focus specifically aimed at TGNC individuals. While the political and social conservatism underlying such efforts is clear, the energetic focus on this population demands further exploration. Two considerations heighten this point. First, while these efforts, much like the so-called “bathroom bills” that continue to circulate, are justified on the grounds that they protect vulnerable populations (children, girls, and young women), this rationale crumbles under any critical examination, revealing that they actually pose a grave threat to the health and safety of TGNC minors. Second, despite this, I remain convinced that a majority of those supporting such efforts nevertheless feel these rationales to be true. This description is important: understanding these legislative efforts requires that we move beyond rationalist conceptions of “belief” to understand the visceral, embodied nature of the “knowledge” to which such legislative efforts appeal. Understanding the force and energy behind these legislative efforts requires us to understand that they have to do with a way of perceiving society, not a way of thinking about it. My argument is that these perceptions are an expression of Christian nationalism.
Survey of Legislative Efforts
2021 has already seen a record number of anti-trans legislative efforts, numbering more than 80 to date. The two primary targets of such legislation are TGNC individuals wanting to compete in girls’ and women’s sports and TGNC minors seeking medical care for gender transition. The reasons given in support of such legislation have to do with public safety, specifically the protection of minors and young female athletes. Expressing such a rationale, Mississippi governor Tate Reeves, who signed the “Mississippi Fairness Act” (Mississippi SB2536) into law in March, tweeted a few days prior to signing that the law would “protect young girls from being forced to compete with biological males for athletic opportunities,” with supporters of similar legislative efforts in other states voicing essentially the same rationale. Governor Bill Lee of Tennessee tweeted that he signed his state’s bill (Tennessee SB228) “to preserve women’s athletics and ensure fair competition,” going on to say that “this legislation responds to damaging federal policies that stand in opposition to the years of progress made under Title IX.”
Supporters of the criminalization of medical services aiding in the transition of TGNC minors similarly appeal to the safety of children. Their rationale is that such prohibitions protect minors from undergoing “medical changes they may regret as adults.” Reflecting this, Arkansas’s HB1570 is dubbed the “Save Adolescents From Experimentation (SAFE)” act, while the legislation currently making its way through the Alabama legislature (Alabama SB10) is called the “Vulnerable Child Compassion and Protection Act.” And, as of the end of March 2021, Alabama and Arkansas are only two of twenty states that have introduced similar legislation, with other states close behind. Typical of all such efforts are the aims of criminalizing gender-confirming medical interventions for minors, with both parents and medical providers in view.
Lack of Factual Basis
The cruelty underlying such reasoning is that this legislation does not, in fact, serve the purposes in the name of which it is justified, but rather actively harms the targeted TGNC populations. To see this, we can begin with supporters’ appeal to “biological” gender. The “Mississippi Fairness Act,” for example, requires public high schools and higher education institutions to “designate its athletic teams or sports according to biological sex,” while Tennessee’s new law “requires, for the purposes of participation in a middle school or high school interscholastic athletic activity or event, that a student’s gender be determined by the student’s sex at the time of the student’s birth, as indicated on the student’s original birth certificate.” Going further, presumably to address the issue of birth certificates modified to reflect the genders with which TGNC individuals identify, the law also requires that “if a birth certificate does not appear to be the student’s original birth certificate or does not indicate the student’s sex at birth, the student must provide other evidence to indicate the student’s sex.”1 BBC staff, “Mississippi Bans Transgender Girls From Girls’ School Sports,” BBC (March 12, 2021), https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-56275274; TrackBill, “Tennessee HB3,” TrackBill.com, HB3 | Tennessee 2021-2022 | Local Education Agencies – As introduced, requires that a student’s gender for purposes of participation in a public middle school or high school interscholastic athletic activity or event be determined by the student’s sex at the time of the student’s birth, as indicated on the student’s original birth certificate. – Amends TCA Title 49. | TrackBill.
Appeals to “sex at birth” and “biological sex” presuppose what Talia Mae Bettcher describes as the “natural attitude” toward sex and gender, a view according to which “there are two naturally mutually exclusive, exhaustive, and invariant sexes, and membership within a sex is determined by genitalia.”2 Talia Mae Bettcher, “Trans Identities and First-Person Authority,” in “You’ve Changed”: Sex Reassignment and Personal Identity, ed. Laurie J. Shrage (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009), 103. Within this perspective, sex determines gender, so that gender is strictly binary in nature (i.e., biologically, there are only the two genders of male and female). But the “facts” of gender to which such laws appeal, as popularly widespread as they may be, fail to hold up. This view is decades out of date, ignoring both empirical and theoretical evidence against the existence of “biological sex,” its coincidence or determination of gender identity, and the resulting concept of “biological gender.”3 Judith Butler, Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity (London: Routledge, 1989); Judith Butler, Undoing Gender (London: Routledge, 2004); Anne Fausto-Sterling, Sexing the Body: Gender Politics and the Construction of Sexuality (New York: Basic Books, 2000); David Glover and Cora Kaplan, Genders, 2nd ed., (London: Routledge, 2008) 1-25; Gina Rippon, The Gendered Brain: The New Neuroscience that Shatters the Myth of the Female Brain (London: The Bodley Head, 2019); Gayle Salamon, Assuming a Body: Transgender and Rhetorics of Materiality (New York: Columbia University Press, 2010); Julia Serano, Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity, 2nd ed. (Berkeley, CA: Seal Press, 2016).
Promises of protections for vulnerable populations also fail. Sponsors of bills banning TGNC individuals from participating in girls’ and women’s sports are unable to cite instances in which such participation of trans athletes has created any real difficulties, let alone dangers. The argument that criminalizing developmentally appropriate gender-confirming medical treatments for TGNC minors represents a protective measure, for its part, studiously overlooks the fact that medical transition for minors involves a measured, careful, and deliberative process and also flies in the face of the increasingly well-established opinions of medical and mental health experts and organizations.4Burns, “Why Republicans are Suddenly in a Rush;” Gabe Murchison, “Supporting and Caring for Transgender Children,” Human Rights Campaign Foundation, American College of Osteopathic Pediatricians, and American Academy of Pediatrics (September, 2016), https://www.aap.org/en-us/Documents/solgbt_resource_transgenderchildren.pdf; American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), “LGBT Resources,” American Academy of Pediatrics, https://www.aap.org/en-us/advocacy-and-policy/aap-health-initiatives/Pages/LGBT-Resources.aspx; American Medical Association (AMA), “Advocating for the LGBTQ Community,” Population Care, https://www.ama-assn.org/delivering-care/population-care/advocating-lgbtq-community; American Psychological Association (APA), “APA Adopts Guidelines for Working with Transgender, Gender Nonconforming People,” American Psychological Association (August 6, 2015), https://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2015/08/working-transgender; American Psychological Association (APA), “Guidelines for Psychological Practice with Transgender and Gender Nonconforming People,” American Psychologist 70, no. 9 (December 2015): 832-864; Jason Rafferty, “Ensuring Comprehensive Care and Support for Transgender and Gender-Diverse Children and Adolescents,” Pediatrics 142, no. 4 (October 2018): 1-16; World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH), Standards of Care for the Health of Transsexual, Transgender, and Gender Nonconforming People, Vers. 7 (WPATH, 2012), sec. VI.
While the lack of factual bases for these legislative efforts is significant, what renders them positively perverse is that they actively endanger members of the TGNC community. Preventing TGNC youth from accessing necessary gender-affirming medical treatments leads to increased suicidality and other mental health issues.5American Psychiatric Association, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th ed. (Washington, D.C.: APA,2013), 454, 458-459; Tim Fitzsimmons, “Puberty Blockers Linked to Lower Suicide Risk For Transgender People,” NBC News (Jan. 24, 2020), https://www.nbcnews.com/feature/nbc-out/puberty-blockers-linked-lower-suicide-risk-transgender-people-n1122101; Caroline Miller, “Transgender Kids and Gender Dysphoria,” Child Mind Institute (n.d.), https://childmind.org/article/transgender-teens-gender-dysphoria/; C. Dhejne et al., “Mental Health and Gender Dysphoria: A Review of the Literature,” International Review of Psychiatry 28, no. 1 (2016): 44-57; Murchison, “Supporting and Caring.” Full participation in the social life and activities of those who share their experienced gender is a crucial component of social transition, such that laws foreclosing on TGNC individuals’ participation in girls’ and women’s sports compound all the risks, such as bullying, stigma, and social ostracism, confronting TGNC youth who are not socially affirmed in their experienced identity, which has spurred pediatricians and advocates of pediatric health across the country to warn of the dangers of such legislation.6 AMA, “Advocating;” Robert Paul Cabaj, “Working with LGBTQ Patients,” American Psychiatric Association (n.d.), https://www.psychiatry.org/psychiatrists/cultural-competency/education/best-practice-highlights/working-with-lgbtq-patients; Shoshana K. Goldberg and Theo Santos, “Fact Sheet: The Importance of Sports Participation for Transgender Youth,” Center for American Progress (March 18, 2021), Fact Sheet: The Importance of Sports Participation for Transgender Youth – Center for American Progress; Trisha Korioth, “Pediatricians Say State Bills Would Harm Transgender Youths,” AAP News (March 9, 2021), https://www.aappublications.org/news/2021/03/09/transgender-legislation-030921; Murchison “Supporting and Caring;” Rafferty, 1-16, 3-4, 6; Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), A Practitioner’s Resource Guide: Helping Families to Support Their LGBT Children (Rockville, MD: SAMHSA, 2014). Rather than protecting youth, these legislative measures place them at much greater risk.
Significance of Support for Such Legislation
The persistence of enthusiastic support for such legislative efforts, given the weakness of their purported bases, lends itself to multiple explanations, none of which are mutually exclusive. The simplest explanation, of course, is that rationales appealing to the protection of vulnerable populations is just a smokescreen masking obvious anti-TGNC animus. Political opportunism also plays a role in this. Prior legislative efforts targeted queer sexualities (e.g., efforts to ban same-sex marriage), with very little focus on gender identity. But such opposition is no longer the winning political strategy it once was. Almost three quarters of the public now affirm the legality of same-sex relationships and two thirds approve of same-sex marriage, a reversed mirror image of widespread opposition to the situation 25 years ago. In the decade from 2004 to 2014 alone, public support for same-sex marriage increased by 22 percentage points, an increase which was 43 percentage points higher than in the late 1980s.7 Robert P. Jones, The End of White Christian America (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2016), 124. In many ways, the 2015 Supreme Court Obergefell v. Hodges decision marked a decisive loss in cultural conservatives’ anti-gay rights culture wars. By way of contrast, gender identity and gender nonconformity have not yet garnered the same degree of popular awareness or acceptance as sexual orientation, so the GOP and cultural conservatives can count on greater support for their opposition to the TGNC community than that of the gay community.
While such explanations are certainly not incorrect and shed significant light on support for anti-trans legislation, they still don’t take us far enough. While ani-trans animus obviously lies at the heart of these efforts, such explanations don’t address the source of that animus itself, thus missing, or misconstruing, the visceral nature of the enthusiasm for such measures. They also fail to account for the maddening ineffectiveness of offering counter-evidence (of the kind outlined above) for the purported rationales for such support. This brings us back to the second point I have suggested: the pervasiveness of ongoing support reflects the fact that a majority of those who support these legislative efforts feel these rationales to be true, regardless of any evidence to the contrary.
My choice of language here is intentional. I do not describe such supporters as believing these rationales to be true, because I don’t think the visceral opposition to TGNC youth is primarily a matter of “belief.” To be sure, when queried about their support for such legislation, even in the face of factually compelling counter-evidence, proponents might well respond with an answer that could be stated in terms of belief: “because (I believe that) there are only two genders,” or “because (I believe that) gender is biologically determined,” or “because (I believe that) we have to protect children from harmful medical interventions,” etc. And the “because” of such responses gives the impression that they do, indeed, express beliefs as the cause of such support.
This understanding, as intuitive as it may be, is misleading. Rather than representing the reasons or explanations for supporting such legislation, expression of such beliefs represents an after-the-fact justification or rationalization for preferences whose real driving force lies elsewhere. This helps to explain the stubborn persistence of such support despite compelling counter-evidence. Because such support is not, fundamentally, about belief, rational or factual counter-arguments or counter-evidence are largely ineffective in displacing it.
The Significance of Christian Nationalist Identity
If belief is not, after all, a convincing explanation for support of these legislative efforts, what is? In the case of this focused opposition to TGNC youth, the answer lies in understanding Christian nationalism and appreciating the unique degree to which TGNC individuals call into question the social order as imagined within it. It is likely that most people had never heard of Christian nationalism, and certainly not as an idea applicable to the United States, until recently. Christian nationalism is a comprehensive cultural framework that is both pervasive and complex, involving much more than what most of us typically think of as “religious” identity.8 Andrew L. Whitehead and Samuel L. Perry, Taking America Back for God: Christian Nationalism in the United States (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2020), 10. In addition to Whitehead and Perry, the following are readily-available resources offering much fuller discussions of Christian nationalism: Daniel D. Miller, Queer Democracy: Desire, Dysphoria, and the Body Politic. (London: Routledge, forthcoming summer 2021); Sarah Posner, Unholy: Why White Evangelicals Worship at the Altar of Donald Trump (New York: Random House, 2020); Katherine Stewart, The Power Worshippers: Inside the Dangerous Rise of Religious Nationalism (New York: Bloomsbury, 2019).
Significantly, for the purposes of understanding conservative anti-trans legislative efforts, political conservatism is the strongest predictor of Christian nationalist identification, with strong majorities of political conservatives, including those who affiliate with the GOP, identifying as such.9 Whitehead and Perry, 13, 35, 38. See also: Bart Bonikowski and Paul DiMaggio, “Varieties of American National Populism,” American Sociological Review 81, no. 5 (2016): 949-980, https://doi.org/10.1177/0003122416663683. Ruth Braunstein and Malaena Taylor, “Is the Tea Party a ‘Religious’ Movement? Religiosity in the Tea Party Versus the Religious Right,” Sociology of Religion: A Quarterly Review 78, no. 1 (2017): 33-59, 52; Joshua Davis, “Enforcing Christian Nationalism: Examining the Link Between Group Identity and Punitive Attitudes in the United States,” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 57, no. 2 (2018): 300-317, 309. Christian nationalism is an expression of populist nationalism that takes shape in the perception that only certain kinds of people living in the United States are real Americans. As imagined within Christian nationalism, not all residents of the U.S., not even all citizens born in the U.S., are real Americans. While all U.S. citizens might possess a nominal, shared civic identity and therefore might be legally entitled to basic rights and a level of political recognition, real Americans are a much more exclusive subset of people within the broader U.S. population. And while this might strike many as a fringe movement, social scientists studying contemporary Christian nationalism have demonstrated that a majority of Americans either actively support, or are at least sympathetic to, Christian nationalism.10 Bonikowski and DiMaggio, 10; Jack Delehanty et al., “Christian America? Secularized Evangelical Discourse and the Boundaries of National Belonging,” Social Forces 97, no. 3 (March 2019): 1283-1306, 1292; Whitehead and Perry, 25.
Like all nationalist identities, Christian nationalism is a complex social formation, and therefore involves much more than the markers of Christian religious identity typically measured by social scientists, such as the acceptance of traditionally orthodox Christian beliefs, frequency of church attendance, Bible reading, prayer, and so on. While Christian nationalist identification may involve these traditional measures of Christian identity, it is also entwined with other axes of identity including race, gender, sexuality, and political orientation. Within Christian nationalist experience, these identity dimensions come together in a deeply-felt sense of just who the real Americans are. Different studies of American national identity reveal a notably uniform, and very narrow, idealized image of the prototypical “real American,” as imagined within Christian nationalism: real Americans are White, cisgender, heterosexual, Protestant, English-speaking, U.S.-born, of northern European descent, and affirmative of patriarchy (if not male), and, it almost goes without saying, politically and socially conservative.11 Bonikowski and DiMaggio; Braunstein and Taylor, 52; Davis, 309, 312; Delehanty et al., 1285; Thierry Devos and Mahzarin R. Banaji, “American = White?” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 88, no. 3 (2005): 447-466; Ashley Jardina, White Identity Politics (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2019), 118-186; Eric Peter Kaufman, “Ethnic or Civic Nation?: Theorizing the American Case,” Canadian Review of Studies in Nationalism (January 2000): 1-45, 9, 17-18; Natalie Masuoka and Jane Junn, The Politics of Belonging: Race, Public Opinion, and Immigration (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2013), 59; Kim Parker et al., “Looking at the Future, Public Sees an America in Decline on Many Fronts,” Pew Research Center (March 21, 2019), https://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2019/03/21/public-sees-an-america-in-decline-on-many-fronts/; Deborah J. Schildkraut, “Boundaries of American Identity: Evolving Understandings of ‘Us’,” Annual Review of Political Science 17 (2014): 441-460, 447, 449, 452; Elizabeth Theiss-Morse, Who Counts as American? The Boundaries of National Identity (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009), 52; Whitehead and Perry. 2020, 5, 13, 16, 99, 118, 153. The more fully someone is perceived to embody this prototype, the greater the degree to which they can be recognized as real or authentic Americans, while the American identity of those who are not perceived as embodying this prototype is suspect, or even denied altogether.
Once we understand Christian nationalism as a totalizing experiential framework, it becomes clearer why it cannot be reduced to an expression of “belief.” For example, if most Christian nationalists were simply asked, “Does someone have to be White to be an American?” they would almost certainly give a negative answer, and might well be sincere in doing so. Likewise, it is probable that most Christian nationalists don’t consciously believe that only those fitting the profile I’ve offered are “real Americans.” But they nevertheless feel it to be true. To reiterate, Christian nationalism is not primarily an expression of thoughts or beliefs about American identity; it expresses a perception of American identity, a visceral, felt sense of authentic American belonging. It operates on what William Connolly calls the “visceral register,” a register of “preconscious modes of intensity and thought-imbued feelings.”12 William Connolly, Why I Am Not a Secularist (Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 1999), 3, 176. It is what Brian Massumi refers to as a “thinking-feeling” that is not a mode of explicit rationality or belief, but an “immediate understanding” that is already operating by the time we get to any articulation of consciously-held beliefs.13 Brian Massumi, Politics of Affect (Malden, MA: Polity Press, 2015), 94. The purported rationales for anti-TGNC legislation therefore represents a post facto legitimation for legislative support that actually originates in distinctive perception of social reality constitutively shaped by Christian nationalist identity.
As this description of Christian nationalism suggests, identity is linked to embodiment, which brings us back to the specific issue of GOP opposition to TGNC identity. Identity is never abstract, but visceral, lived out, and experienced in concrete, real-world contexts. The idealized prototype of the “real American” around which Christian nationalist identity takes shape plays out in the recognition of the degree to which real, flesh-and-blood bodies are perceived as corresponding to that ideal. Insofar as it is perceptual in nature, identity is fundamentally a matter of perceiving which bodies do or do not match the idealized “real American” prototype.
A crucial outcome of this perception is a sense of proper social order, a sense that can also be expressed in terms of embodiment. For thousands of years, western social, political, and religious thinkers have understood society itself as a kind of body (e.g., the “body politic”), and this imagined social body has functioned to ground a sense of proper social order. A proper social body was a body with the right structure, or shape, a body all of whose members were in their proper place, playing their properly assigned roles. As this description of “proper” roles suggests, the social body’s order has consistently been articulated in hierarchical terms. The perception of flesh-and-blood bodies is integrally related to this perception of the social body. Within Christian nationalist experience, the properly ordered social body mirrors the body of the prototypical “real American,” so that the proper social order is one in which real Americans hold positions of social and political authority, while all those not perceived as embodying that ideal are subordinate or even (a point that is vital) totally nonexistent.
TGNC embodiment uniquely threatens Christian nationalists’ sense of properly embodied social order, and is therefore perceived as a distinctive threat. TGNC bodies have long been marginalized because they have no place within the fixed gender binary that orients Christian nationalism (though transgender discrimination is certainly not limited to Christian nationalism). Indeed, the bodies of those identifying as nonbinary or gender fluid are particularly “unnatural” and cannot be assimilated into the social body at all.14 Salamon, 138-139; Stryker, 245; Nikki Sullivan, “Transmogrification: (Un)Becoming Others,” in The Transgender Studies Reader, ed. Susan Stryker and Stephen Whittle, 552-573 (London: Routledge, 2006), 553, 561. Disruption of the gender binary, especially in the case of TGNC youth, similarly disrupts the White, Christian, heteronormative, and patriarchal nuclear family around which the Christian nationalist social body takes shape.15 Sophie Bjork-James, The Divine Institution: White Evangelicalism’s Politics of the Family (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2021) In the bodies of TGNC youth, in particular, Christian nationalists therefore perceive a unique threat to the social body as they imagine it.
Understood within this frame, support for anti-trans legislation is an effort to entirely excise TGNC bodies from the social body itself. This support is an expression of visceral opposition to the very existence of TGNC bodies, and this is where we can register the full significance of proponents’ insistence on the naturalness of a gender binary, on the biological basis for “normal” gender expressions, and on the fundamental unnaturalness of appropriate medical transition for TGNC youth. The visceral nature of this opposition is the source of its resistance to factual counter-evidence. This recalcitrant resistance lies in the perception, within the Christian nationalist social imaginary, that TGNC youth simply ought not to be. The threat they pose to the Christian nationalist social order is simply too great to be registered as anything other than an existential threat.
But TGNC embodiment also threatens the social body imagined by Christian nationalists on an even more fundamental level. While Christian nationalists viscerally resist TGNC embodiment because they perceive it as an unnatural departure from “normal” embodiment, TGNC embodiment reveals the deeper truth that there is no normative body, whether flesh-and-blood or social. As Susan Stryker powerfully writes, “I who have dwelt in a form unmatched with my desire, I whose flesh has become an assemblage of incongruous anatomical parts, I who achieve the similitude of a natural body only through an unnatural process, I offer you this warning: the Nature you bedevil me with is a lie…It is a fabrication that cloaks the groundlessness of the privilege you seek to maintain for yourself at my expense.”16 Stryker, 247 TGNC embodiment reveals the truth that the “natural” embodiment to which Christian nationalists appeal is itself a lie. It reveals that, as Niall Richardson suggests, there is “no fixed, inherent, or essential body.”17 Niall Richardson, Transgressive Bodies: Representations in Film and Popular Culture (London: Routledge, 2010), 9. Far from representing a transgression of natural embodiment, as Christian nationalists imagine, forms of TGNC embodiment serve as examples, as Nikki Sullivan writes, “of the many ambiguous and complex ways in which bodies are continually changed and changing,” bringing to light the fact that “all bodies are unnatural, created, formed, and transformed in and through modificatory processes and procedures of one sort or another.”18 Sullivan, 553, 558, emphasis added. To encounter TGNC bodies is to run up against, in Stryker’s words, the “revelation of the constructedness of the natural order” itself.19 Stryker, 254, emphasis added.
TGNC bodies reveal the fundamental queerness of all bodies, that all bodies are defined by shifting and fluid shapes and contours, that they have no “normal” or “proper” shape, a revelation with which Christian nationalists are confronted in their encounters with such bodies. They reveal that the social body imagined within Christian nationalism is itself an unnatural denial of the social body’s inherent queerness, aimed at preserving the privilege of the few at the expense of the many. Recognizing the social body’s fluidity, on the other hand, opens the possibility for an alternative social and political practice. It opens the possibility not only of affirming TGNC youth, but of enacting a political practice oriented around the recognition and embrace of all the novel identities taking shape within the social body, demanding their place within it and effectively recreating it in the process. Such practices, which I term “queer democracy,”20 Daniel D. Miller, Queer Democracy. take shape not only in the opposition to Christian nationalism, but in the embrace of all those on whose marginalization the imposition of the “proper” social body depends. To be sure, a queer social body is, from the Christian nationalist perspective, grotesque or monstrous, fluid and shifting in its contours and constitution. From within any meaningfully democratic perspective, however, we can see that such “monstrosity” is beautiful. ♦
Daniel D. Miller is Associate Professor of Religion and Social Thought and Chair of the Department of Liberal Studies at Landmark College. He is the author of two books, The Myth of Normative Secularism: Religion and Politics in the Democratic Homeworld (Duquesne) and Queer Democracy: Desire, Dysphoria, and the Body Politic (Routledge, forthcoming), and is co-host of the podcast Straight White American Jesus.
Miller, Daniel D. “Christian Nationalism and Recent Anti-Trans State Laws.” Canopy Forum, May 13, 2021, https://canopyforum.org/2021/05/13/christian-nationalism-and-recent-anti-trans-state-laws/