What Does God Think: Transgender People and the Bible – Entered in 2018 ATAI Book Award Contest

5 Stars

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Cheryl B. Evans

What Does God Think? Transgender People and the Bible by Cheryl B. Evans is a thoughtful book which attempts to answer the very question from which it gets its title. Cheryl, the mother of a transgender son, is a Christian who went on her own journey of self-discovery and acceptance and wants to help other parents in her situation do the same. She argues, through the inclusion of extensive research and personal experiences, that the transgender community is a vital part of the Christian Church.

Evans presents a book that is thoroughly researched and well-thought-out. She leads the reader purposefully through an exploration of the transgender experience from the point of view of the family members who support the transgender individual. Adequate time is taken to define all terms that the reader may not be familiar with. She also includes a couple of excerpts from discussions with religious experts, which serve to illustrate the intricacies of her argument. In fact, What Does God Think? Transgender People and the Bible could benefit from the inclusion of additional material from religious and scientific experts to provide further support for the stance that Evans takes in the book.

What Does God Think? Transgender People and the Bible includes many quotations from the Bible, in addition to the commentary from experts in the field, and does a great job of analyzing the text in support of the overall argument. Evans has created a well structured and coherent exploration of what it is like to raise a transgender child in the Christian community. Her attempt to encourage compassion for the transgender community should be commended. Evans weaves a tapestry of personal anecdotes and experiences together with scientific fact and biblical analysis to present a finished piece that encourages people of all faiths to interrogate their worldview. In What Does God Think? Transgender People and the Bible, Cheryl B. Evans has created an approachable, non-judgmental exploration of raising a transgender child that everyone should read, regardless of their religious background.

Originally critiqued by a member of the Authors Talk About It team.

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[Author Interview] Cheryl Evans -What Does God Think?

Featured Authors Talk About It

Author Interview

Cheryl B. Evans

ATAI: Tell us a little about you.

Cheryl B. Evans: I was born and raised in Canada and currently reside in the province of Ontario. Since I was very young I knew I wanted to become a mother more than anything. Today, I am married with two children, both of whom are now young adults. Through parenting my children, I learned that while we as parents may have our expectations regarding gender our children can still surprise us.

Our family embarked on a journey I never saw coming. It seems God had far more to teach me about parenting and gender than I could have anticipated. While there was a time when I believed I had two daughters, it turns out my second child is transgender and right under my nose was the son I never knew I had. Today, I consider myself a transgender advocate and I believe strongly in protecting the human rights of transgender persons. For me, the best way I have found to be an advocate is through my writing.

I’ve always loved to read non-fiction books but feeling the pull to write my own was not something I had planned. Life throws you curve balls sometimes and you just never know where they will take you.  I write about experiences that I hope will resonate with my readers. My vision is that I help to educate others, inspire and even uplift and encourage through the sharing of my own experiences.

ATAI: How long have you been writing?

Cheryl B. Evans: The short answer is over ten years. However, it wasn’t until 2016 that I published my first memoir which I did under the name Cheryl B. Evans in order to protect the privacy of my family. That memoir which details every step of my son’s transition from female to male is called I Promised Not to Tell: Raising a transgender child. It reached #1 Best Seller in three categories on Amazon following its release and through the numerous emails I’ve received I know it has helped many families to realize they are not alone.

ATAI: What was your most recent release?

Cheryl B. Evans: My most recent release is titled What Does God Think? Transgender People and The Bible. The inspiration for this book came from a single chapter by the same title that appeared in my earlier published memoir. This is an important book because even though this is a polarizing debate today, I don’t believe it needs to stay that way. The goal of this book is to help soften the divide among Christians and help us all to know we are all beloved children of God.

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ATAI: What do you love most about writing?

Cheryl B. Evans: I like helping people and being a beacon of hope and comfort to others. When we lack knowledge on a topic, and have no personal reference of it, it’s difficult to understand that which we can’t see from our vantage point. However, if those of us with knowledge, and with first hand experiences can step up and share our stories it can be very impactful. For the writers, like me, it can have a wonderful therapeutic effect. For readers, it can enrich their lives and offer them a new perspective from which to view the world.

ATAI: What do you find most challenging?

Cheryl B. Evans: Exposing the vulnerable and deeply personal side of my experiences is the most difficult. I believe in order for the reader to fully experience what I have experienced, it is necessary to share things that are uncomfortable to share. With non-fiction I just have to put it out there. I have to trust it will fall upon the eyes and ears of those who can benefit most. I can’t edit out what is hard to write, the things that make me feel exposed because it’s the realness, the raw emotion that can be most impactful. As challenging as it is to let my guard down and not worry about the harsh or unkind comments my stories may receive I do it, I just write.

ATAI: Where do your ideas come from?

Cheryl B. Evans: Life. It’s the stuff I struggle with, the things that bring me down and the things that lift me up. The challenges and triumphs of living in a world where discrimination and bigotry exist and grace and compassion often seem amiss.

ATAI: What is your writing process?

Cheryl B. Evans: I often sequester myself in a quiet corner of the house with a cup of coffee and my laptop. Some days I will write for just an hour or two and others I may write for a full eight hours. I don’t have a specific writing routine that I stick by. Instead, I will make notes on my phone when an idea pops in my head and refer back to those notes when I do sit down to write.

I will often overwrite and then am brutal with the delete key in order to remove all the unnecessary content. I am not a fan of filler and prefer to stay on point as much as possible when writing non-fiction. You won’t find my writing loaded down with a ton of peripheral details. I find that the end result is often more impactful even though aiming for quality over quantity sometimes makes for a shorter book.

ATAI: Do your characters (or message) ever seem to have a life of their own or an agenda of their own?

Cheryl B. Evans: No, not really. I do not believe my writing goes in a different direction per say, but it often conjures up emotions I didn’t expect. With my memoir, I actually became moved to tears as I was writing it.

ATAI: What’s your favorite part of your book (or one of your books)?

Cheryl B. Evans: My favorite part of I Promised Not to Tell and What Does God Think? is the final chapters. That is where I feel I tie everything together and when the message of unconditional love and acceptance are strongest. I think our society needs that kind of message, the kind that comforts and brings us together. The final thoughts I leave my readers with are often the ones that stay with them the longest. Therefore, I like for those thoughts to be positive ones.

ATAI: What are you working on next?

Cheryl B. Evans: Currently my memoir is being translated into both Spanish and Italian. I am working with two separate translators on these projects. I also have a couple of other book ideas I’m trying to sort out, though I still need some more time before I’m ready to share.

ATAI: Where can people find you online?

Cheryl B. Evans: I try to be as accessible as possible. I have a facebook page www.facebook.com/writtenbymom and I can also be found on twitter at www.twitter.com/writtenbymom. Of course, there is always my website www.writtenbymom.ca.

You can also check out my memoir I Promised Not to Tell: Just click here.

ATAI: Thank you for sharing with us and our audience.

Cheryl B. Evans: Thank you so much for the opportunity to speak with you today Janelle & Rob, it’s been a pleasure. Happy writing and reading everyone!

*NOTE: ATAI does not edit the responses of the authors.

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