The dean of Trinity College in Cambridge has called speculation that Jesus Christ might have been transgender “legitimate,” The Telegraph reported on Saturday.
Dr. Michael Banner made the statement in defense of a junior research fellow who claimed that Jesus’ body incorporates both masculine and feminine features.
During last Sunday’s evensong service in the college chapel, Cambridge research student Joshua Heath displayed Renaissance and Medieval paintings of Jesus’ crucifixion while asserting that one of the wounds on his body “takes on a decidedly vaginal appearance,” according to the newspaper.
To prove his point, Heath used the 14th-century painting ‘Pieta with the Holy Trinity’ by Jean Malouel (see image), which is a part of the Louvre’s collection. The painting depicts Jesus with a side wound, from which blood is streaming down to the groin.
“In Christ’s simultaneously masculine and feminine body in these works, if the body of Christ [is] as these works suggest the body of all bodies, then his body is also the trans body,” Heath said, as quoted by the outlet.
The congregation was apparently shocked, with one of its members telling The Telegraph that he “left the service in tears.” He said he was “contemptuous of the idea that by cutting a hole in a man, through which he can be penetrated, he can become a woman,” describing the opinion as a “heresy for our age.”
Banner stated in comments seen by The Telegraph that he thinks the “speculation was legitimate, whether or not you or I or anyone else disagrees with the interpretation, says something else about that artistic tradition, or resists its application to contemporary questions around transsexualism.”
At the same time, the dean insisted that while the opinion was the speaker’s own, he “would not issue an invitation to someone who I thought would deliberately seek to shock or offend a congregation” or speak against Christianity.
Last week, students held protests against the presence at a Cambridge Union debate of Professor Kathleen Stock, who was forced to resign from her post at Sussex University in 2021 after she said humans cannot change sex. The beleaguered scholar was on campus to express her views on the topic of free speech, not on transgender rights.