As I’m sure most of you are well aware, at least by now, there is some confusion as to the exact job status of Heath Adam Ackley at Azusa Pacific University. With the simple pronouncement of “I’m transgender”, Adam, initially, claimed to have been fired only to later nuance that claim with the notion that he and Azusa are coming to terms with a situation that would be mutually beneficial. I, of course, am not sure as to all the politics that are taking place that seem to be making this such an inhospitable home to Dr. Ackley, but, whatever they are, they don’t appear to be good. Of course, the fact that this is even an issue speaks volumes to me (regardless of whether or not it is a case of being fired for his gender identity). Again, I don’t know very many details, which is why I very cautiously hold my tongue. I think I’m just more perplexed by how we all found ourselves in a situation in which someone would even need to have a discussion as to whether being transgender is a sin or not. On that score, if this is what theological conversations on the word ‘sin’ lead us to, then I’m out (I know, I know, I’ve said that a thousand times before, but this time I mean it! Eh, probably not.).
Something I am finding a bit odd, however, is the quick appeal to Pat Robertson on this issue. Many people are quick to point out that ” . . . even Robertson doesn’t think this is a sin.” I’m not sure what to make of such invocations other than this is a really bad joke (and that’s exactly what Dr. Ackley appears to be doing in his sermon where he references Robertson). But, for others who are appealing to that crazy old hoot, it’s a sort of, ‘Robertson is such a f#&ing theological disaster, yet he has one-up’d even you evangelical dirtbags!’ kind of mentality. As a person who sees the concept of gender as pure ideology (therefore, let us rise ‘above’ it before it kills us all), I’m not sure how I feel about appealing to Robertson for, well, anything. I know strange times often produce strange allies, but I’m thinking we can do better.
With that being said, here’s hoping APU is not as horrible of a place as it seems. Let’s hope that they’re not trying to push Dr. Ackley out due to concerns over donors, which would be immediate proof that the devil really does exist. If, however, that is indeed the case, just remember (as I have told you countless times before): There is nothing more corrupt, why, I should dare say, there is no greater manifestation of the principalities and powers than the public university.
Except for, of course, the private Christian university.
Now, here’s a little ditty from my favorite transgendered punk rocker–the lovely, and appropriately named, Ms. Laura Jane Grace of Against Me! You know, just in case you have the Transgender Dysphoria Blues.
About the Author
Tripp York teaches religious studies at Virginia Wesleyan College in Norfolk, Virginia. He is the author of more than half a dozen books including, Third Way Allegiance, The Purple Crown, and Living on Hope While Living in Babylon. He is the co-editor of the forthcoming three-volume collection called the Peaceable Kingdom Series. An actor and a lighting designer, Tripp also surfs and spends his weekends shoveling elephant and giraffe poop.