I am a layman whose prejudices are dictated by the spirit of the age, so I am particularly saddened whenever religion contradicts the fashions of thought—as it appears to do on transgender matters. I was encouraged when Rabbi Mark Sameth proposed in the New York Times that God might be transgender, and saddened when Robert Gagnon insisted that Sameth was wrong.
I take solace in the fact that the Bible—more precisely, the scribal lineage that produced the canon of scriptural texts as it is presently constituted—portrays Satan as a straight white cis male. Throughout the Biblic textual corpus, Satan is assigned the pronouns “he” and “him.” I glean from this pronominal bias a strong inference that Satan is a man. Is he also white? He is often called Lucifer, or “bearer of light,” and he spends a lot of time underground. I’m going to say that he’s pale. Cis? I’m not even sure what that means, but let’s run with it.
As to whether the devil is straight: Conjectures based on the textual evidence are admittedly just that—conjectures—but that should not stop us from retrojecting our notions of gender identity. The Bible must be queered so it can queer us in turn.
Satan is called “the father of lies.” Surely, this epithet aligns him and all his works with heteronormative patriarchy. Further, the serpentine form Satan assumes in the Garden, as his gaze vectors toward the naked Eve, clearly inscribes his heterophallic orientation. My conclusions are corroborated by a rare Coptic papyrus that I recently obtained from a German pornographer. Look for my research findings in a forthcoming issue of The Quarterly Beast: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Interspecies Studies.
So God may not be transgender—yet. He may change his mind after learning from a wise woman, as his son once did. We may say with some confidence, however, that Satan is a straight white cis male.
William Boot is a veteran foreign correspondent for one of our most storied papers.