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Religion Seminar Series

Religion Seminar Series

Religion Seminar Series, 2016-2017

Religion, and Trans Lives in a Global Perspective

Four Public Seminars: September 20, October 18, January 24, and February 21

Each seminar meets from 7:00–9:00 PM in the location specified.

Sessions take place this year at Butler University, 4600 Sunset Avenue, as well as on the campus of Christian Theological Seminary, 1000 W. 42nd Street. For seminars on the Butler University campus, parking is available in the Sunset Avenue Parking Garage. Fees can be found at For seminars on the Christian Theological Seminary campus, patrons can park for free on the east or west sides of the main building.

The Butler Seminar on Religion and Global Affairs, formerly the Butler University Seminar on Religion and World Civilization, has for many years sought to engage the Butler and Indianapolis community in complex topics of international and local concern with profound ethical and social implications. In 2016-2017, the Center for Faith and Vocation (CFV) in partnership with The Desmond Tutu Center for Peace, Reconciliation, and Global Justice will investigate a unique topic:  Religion and Trans Lives in a Global Perspective. We invite you to begin to explore with us how this topic is compelling for you, your students, and the greater community.

After each event, video will be available on this website.

Pre-Event: Trans 101

Tuesday, September 20, 6:00-6:45  PM

Krannert Room, Clowes Memorial Hall, Butler Arts Center

This will be an introductory conversation about transgender identities that will take place before the first seminar, Trans Lives in American Christian Contexts. The conversation will be  facilitated by the Indiana Transgender Wellness Alliance and the Indiana Youth Group.

Trans Lives in American Christian Contexts

Tuesday, September 20, 7:00 PM

Schrott Center for the Arts, Butler Arts Center

Public debates about transgender issues and rights evoke an intersection of religion and politics. There is an increasingly lively conversation about these issues within the Christian church itself, where trans Christians are becoming more visible in pews, in pulpits, and in theological discourse. Our three speakers will reflect on this conversation.


[Allyson Robinson]

Allyson Robinson is a Senior Strategist at Cook Ross, a global consulting firm specializing in diversity and inclusion, leadership, and organizational transformation. Robinson has served as transitional pastor of Washington, DC’s Calvary Baptist Church. She is believed to be the first openly transgender person to be ordained by a Baptist church—a distinction that led MSNBC to speculate she might be “the most radical preacher in America.”


delfin bautista serves as the Director of the LGBT Center at Ohio University and as an adjunct lecturer in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. delfin is coauthor of Religion and Spirituality in Trans Bodies, Trans Selves.

[Terri Jett] Terri Jett is Associate Professor of Political Science and Special Assistant to the Provost for Diversity and Inclusivity at Butler University. She is President of the Board of the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana and is an Elder at Witherspoon Presbyterian Church.


Sex and (Trans)Gender in Iran

Tuesday, October 18, 7:00 PM

Shelton Auditorium, Christian Theological Seminary

Iran is often portrayed in American media as a conservative society on issues of gender and sexuality. Yet, sex reassignment surgery is legal in Iran, with support both from several high-ranking Muslim clerics and the state itself.  This evening's speakers will describe and discuss this fascinating state of affairs from historical and ethnographic perspectives.


[Afsaneh Najmabadi] Afsaneh Najmabadi is the Francis Lee Higginson Professor of History and of Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality at Harvard University. Her book Women with Mustaches and Men without Beards: Gender and Sexual Anxieties of Iranian Modernity received the 2005 Joan Kelly Memorial Prize from the American Historical Association.


[Sholeh Shahrokhi]

Sholeh Shahrokhi is Associate Professor of Anthropology at Butler University, where her research and teaching focus on Iran, the Middle East, sexuality, youth cultures, and public space.

[Anisse Adni] Anisse Adni is the Associate Imam and Community Organizer of the Indianapolis Muslim Community Association. Adni taught at MTI School of Knowledge, the oldest Islamic School in Indiana, before earning a Master’s in Islamic Sciences at the Qalam Seminary in Dallas, where he studied with Shaykh Abdul Nasir Jangda.

Trans Lives in American Jewish Contexts

Tuesday, January 24, 7:00 PM

Shelton Auditorium, Christian Theological Seminary

While many outside of the Jewish community know little about how conversations about trans lives and rights have advanced within it, trans people and issues have gained increased visibility in recent years among American Jewish communities. This visibility has prompted many new questions and creative responses, as Jewish scholars and communities work to envision what Judaism might look like in a post-binary world, and to apply ancient traditions in new ways.


[Reuben Zellman] Reuben Zellman is Director of Music at Congregation Beth El in Berkeley, California. Rabbi Reuben was the first openly transgender person to be accepted to a rabbinical seminary. An activist and educator in the transgender community, Rabbi Reuben has written extensively about gender identity, sexuality, and Judaism.


[Rabbi Brett] Brett Krichiver is a rabbi at Indianapolis Hebrew Congregation. He is a founding clergy member of IndyCAN, a community-organizing group partnering with religious institutions city-wide. He also serves as a Board Member at Second Helpings and Planned Parenthood.

Non-Binary Gender Constructions in Asian Religions

Tuesday, February 21, 7:00 PM

Schrott Center for the Arts, Butler Arts Center

In the United States, contemporary public conversations about trans people and their rights often proceed as if the issue has been only recently discovered, and as if binary (male-female) conceptions of gender have in all times and places been the norm. But there have been, and still are, many religions and societies that recognize three or more genders. The speakers for this session will discuss examples from Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism.


[Lucinda Ramberg] Lucinda Ramberg is Associate Professor of Anthropology and Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Cornell University. Her current book, provisionally entitled We Were Always Buddhist: Dalit Conversion and Sexual Modernity, will build on some of the central concerns of her first book—the politics of sexuality, religiosity and postcolonial governance—extending them into questions of embodiment and the uses of history.


[Carol Anderson] Carol Anderson teaches at Kalamazoo College in the areas of South Asian religions with a focus on Buddhism. Her recent work examines the agency of women and nuns, the construction of sexuality and female bodies, and sex and gender change in the Pali canon and commentaries. She is currently serving as co-editor for the journal Buddhist-Christian Studies.