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Diverse Genders, Sexes and Sexualities in Southeast Asia (Global Excellence and Mobility Scholarship, with Dr Brady Robards)


Research activity per year

Personal profile


Born into a family of mixed ancestry in Sarawak, Malaysia, the formative years of Dr Joseph N. Goh (he/they/any) were marked by weekend picnics in the country, midnight masses, English novels and sophisti-pop singles. After a brief foray in teaching, he embarked on a full-time ecclesiastical career in 1993 that spanned almost two decades. In the process, he found himself schooled in philosophy, theology, and practical ministerial service among the Bidayûh and Iban people in rural and semi-rural areas.

In 2010, Dr Goh earned two graduate or master's degrees (ThM and STL; summa cum laude) from the Jesuit School of Theology at Santa Clara University in California, USA. His dissertation focused on sacramentology and liturgical interactions with native/indigenous ways of life. The life lessons learned during this period were both cathartic and transformative. It was also during this time that his passion for academia, research and education was further fuelled. Nevertheless, eager to experience new forms of service, he ventured into non-governmental work and worked as an HIV Counselling and Testing Manager at the community-based organisation, PT Foundation. In 2012, he made the decision to embark on full-time doctoral (PhD) studies. His research on masculinities and non-heteronormative sexualities in Malaysia culminated in a thesis entitled Piercing transcendence: A queer theorising and theologising of non-heteronormative Malaysian men, for which he was awarded a doctoral degree in 2015. Dr Goh's thesis analysed the self-understandings of Malaysian gay and bisexual men in relation to their gender and sexual identities and practices, and performances of faith. In 2016, he joined the School of Arts and Social Sciences as a lecturer in Gender studies. Soon after, he also earned a Graduate Certificate in Higher Education (GCHE).

Dr Goh is interested in issues of gender, sexuality and sexual health within the larger framework of human rights. As a theological activist, he enjoys writing on issues of religion and theology, particularly in their intersections with LGBTIQ subjectivities. He is a member of the international Emerging Queer Asian Pacific Islander Religion Scholars (EQARS) group, and sits on the editorial board of two online journals, Religión e Indicencia Pública and Conexión Queer: Revista Latinoamericana y Caribeña de Teologías Queer. Dr Goh is also a member of the editorial boards of the Queer and Trans Intersection book series (University of Wales Press), the QTR: A Journal of Queer and Transgender Studies in Religion (Duke University Press), and the Queer Asia book series (Hong Kong University Press).

Dr Goh continues to be involved with various non-governmental, civil society and church-related organisations in and outside Malaysia on matters pertaining to gender variance and sexual diversity with hopes of contributing to social transformation in his country and beyond. He collaborated with Ms Laishan Yip, a doctoral candidate from the Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley, USA to design and facilitiate the ‘Bringing wholeness into our sex lives’ Christian sexual ethics workshop at the Amplify 2018 Open and Affirming Conference, Taipei, Taiwan, on 26th October, 2018. He has been invited by the World Student Christian Federation Asia-Pacific (WSCF-AP) to design and present seminars on Christian churches and LGBTQ persons in Bangkok, Thailand and Bangalore, India (2017). Dr Goh also successfully produced a discussion paper entitled ‘Christianity, sexual diversity and access to health’ for the international coalition APCOM, which covered issues in Hong Kong, India, the Philippines, Singapore and Tonga. Goh has recently been invited to speak on LGBTQ  and Christianity by local community-based organisations and grassroots initiatives.

Dr Goh has often been approached for expert commentaries and interviews on issues of gender, sexuality and religion. He has also served as an examiner of various doctoral, master's and Honours theses and dissertations.

Research interests

Dr Joseph Goh is interested in diverse topics on gender and sexuality, particularly those which pertain to actual human subjects. While his main geopolitical focus is on Malaysia, he is also actively exploring gender and sexuality issues in other Southeast Asian countries, particularly the Philippines and Singapore.

Dr Goh’s primary interest lies in the intersection of queer subjectivities and Christian theology. Specifically, he draws on the lived experiences of gay and bisexual men, and transgender women and men as theological resources, thus blending traditional forms of theology with sociological realities. He has published numerous journal articles and book chapters on queer theology, which is a form of liberal, progressive theology. He co-edited Queering migrations towards, from, and beyond Asia (Palgrave Macmillan) with Hugo Córdova Quero and Michael Sepidoza Campos in 2014. In 2018, he published his first monograph, Living out sexuality and faith: Body admissions of Malaysian gay and bisexual men (Routledge). Since then he has published other monographs, namely Becoming a Malaysian trans man: Gender, society, body and faith (Palgrave Macmillan 2020) and Doing Church at the Amplify Open and Affirming Conferences: Queer ecclesiologies in Asia (Palgrave Macmilan 2021).

Dr Goh is also interested in a wide range of feminist and queer studies, and how they can be deployed to analyse and augment human rights and sexual health issues and endeavours. In 2016, he was commissioned by APCOM, an international coalition comprising governments, UN partners, and non-profit and community-based organisations to conduct research in the Asia-Pacific region and produce a discussion paper entitled Christianity, Sexual Diversity and Access to Health Services. The document has been well-received by many organisations that are involved in outreach programmes to promote sexual health among gender-variant and sexually-diverse communities. There is also a YouTube video to accompany this paper.

Dr Goh’s current research interests are focused primarily on issues of queer and transgender spaces, queer ecclesiologies, and the impact of COVID-19 on vulnerable and marginalised communities.

Monash teaching commitment

Dr Goh continues to apply the elements of best educational practices which he gleans from various Continuing Education Excellence Development (CEED) programmes and other avenues to the units which he teaches. Apart from incorporating more online technological approaches in the contents and assessment tasks of his units, he has written a new home-grown unit entitled Performing Asian, African and Black Masculinities (AMU3574) which was operationalised for the first time in Semester 2, 2019 and was well received by students.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 5 - Gender Equality
  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

Research area keywords

  • Gender & Diversity
  • Gender Studies
  • LGBT Issues
  • LGBTQIA+ Wellbeing
  • LGBTI Rights
  • Queer studies
  • Queer Theory
  • transgender, non-binary gender
  • Religious Thought
  • Theology
  • Qualitative methodology
  • Qualitative Research Methodologies
  • Qualitative methods, action-research, case study, autoethnography, phenomenology,
  • qualitative research
  • Goh, J. N.

Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

Recent external collaboration on country/territory level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots or