Mary and the mak nyahs: queer theological imaginings of Malaysian male-to-female transsexuals

Joseph N. Goh

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    5 Citations (Scopus)


    Many Malaysian mak nyahs, or male-to-female transsexuals, undergo tremendous discrimination and persecution in various aspects of their lives. This is due to their liminal identities and their involvement in sex work in Malaysia, a predominantly Muslim country that actively engages in moral policing. In this essay, I expand the notion of queer Christian theologizing by examining both the Muslim and Christian contexts in Malaysia, and pose the question of how queer theological instruments can challenge antagonistic attitudes towards mak nyahs. I discuss alternative theological models of Mary and mak nyahs by privileging the work of Marcella Althaus-Reid, as well as using findings from face-to-face, in-depth interviews with mak nyahs, and scriptural imageries in Quran 3: 42, 47; 19: 16–22/Luke 1: 26–38 in which Mary acquiesces to a divine invitation. In so doing, I strive to engage in a concomitant theological imagining of Mary and mak nyahs in hopes of providing an alternative and constructive perspective on mak nyahs.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)215-233
    Number of pages19
    JournalTheology and Sexuality
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2012


    • mak nyah
    • Malaysia
    • male-to-female transsexuals
    • Marcella Althaus-Reid
    • Mary
    • non-heteronor-mative sexualities
    • queer theology
    • religion and politics

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