A $100,000 grant from the Henry Luce Foundation and a publishing partnership with Duke University Press is helping launch the new peer-reviewed academic journal, “QTR: A Journal of Trans and Queer Studies in Religion.”
QTR is the first journal of its kind, offering audiences and authors access to unique academic research that connects religion, gender, and sexuality. QTR will have no paywalls.
The founding co-editors are Melissa M. Wilcox, UC Riverside religious studies professor, and Joseph A. Marchal, religious studies professor at Ball State University in Indiana. Wilcox and Marchal have been working with a team of colleagues on this project since 2018. With the founding of a new conference on Queer and Trans Studies in Religion that has been meeting at UCR since 2019, the team confirmed what scholars wanted: an inclusive and accessible academic journal to serve the variety of scholars, educators, and members of the public who care about the mutual influences of sexuality, gender, and religion.
The first issue of the journal is expected to be released online in late April. QTR is already accepting articles and creative submissions for future issues.
Key to the vision of QTR is its fee-free, open access publishing model. Under most open access models, authors pay the journal to make the paper freely available to any reader; some fees can range from $2,000-$3,000. The support of Luce helps the new Duke University Press journal remove such barriers from both directions.
Wilcox and Marchal hope the journal, which will have an independent accompanying website, can serve as a trusted source and a place where new perspectives can be learned.
“We are immensely grateful to the Henry Luce Foundation and to Duke University Press for sharing our vision of the importance of this public-access project, especially in the current political environment,” said Wilcox, the Holstein Family and Community Chair of Religious Studies at UCR. “Religion is historically a part of both oppression and resistance, and the work of scholars and creatives in this area can help us all to better understand and intervene in these dynamics.”
The journal comes at a timely point in history; according to the American Civil Liberties Union, just in 2023, nearly 500 anti-LGBTQ legislative bills have been introduced in the United States. Many of those bills challenge or restrict gender-transition care for minors, trans sports laws, books, and even drag shows. Many of these bills are rooted in specific religious perspectives that are both contextualized and challenged by scholars of trans and queer studies in religion.
Studying trans and queer people in religion is an opportunity to grow in knowledge and to debunk sometimes baseless interpretations of Christian teachings that underlie a lot of the newest wave of trans antagonism, Wilcox said.
Marchal said while students and communities are craving knowledge on issues surrounding this topic many higher education institutions and communities are still playing catch up with the decades of research on queer and trans studies in religion.
QTR’s forthcoming companion website will include more bite-sized examples of research to understand how sexuality, gender, and religion are historically interconnected. The website will include multimedia, blog-style entries, and other resources to address general interest in this area.
“There is an abundance of desire to learn about religion and gender and sexuality. These aspects of life are intertwined, even intimately connected,” Marchal said. “When people start learning about this stuff, they tend to be surprised, because most have only learned the limited approaches that certain hierarchical institutions have taken when talking about our bodies, our sexuality, our genders. The picture of religious people and practices is much richer, more complicated, and variable than this dominant narrative, as the scholars who have been studying trans and queer people within religions have shown for a long time. This journal will provide a prominent and high-quality venue for such scholarship.”
Learn more about QTR: www.queertransreligion.org