The Shape of Trans Afterlife Justice

Hereth, Blake. (Forthcoming) "The Shape of Trans Afterlife Justice," in Hinder Them Not: Centering Marginalized Voices in Analytic Theology, edited by Michelle Panchuk and Michael C. Rea. NY: Oxford University Press.

Life is bad for trans persons. One hopes the afterlife is more heavenly. This chapter offers grounds for such hope. I argue that if there is an afterlife and a just Gaia managing it, matters will improve dramatically for trans persons. First, I consider the case of Kai, a trans woman who is unable to transition during her earthly life and dies by suicide because of bullying. Kai's death is not only bad for her, but occurs because of injustices (i.e., transphobic bullying). Second, I evaluate three proposals for how to remedy these injustices in the afterlife: by altering Kai's gender identity, by removing dysphoric feelings altogether, and by providing Kai an opportunity to transition. I argue that three plausible moral principles--the Agency Prioritization Principle, the Innocent Identity Principle, and the Burden Allocation Principle--render the first two proposals morally impermissible, but that there are no plausible moral principles condemning transitioning. Third, I argue that because transphobes are principally responsible for Kai's gender dysphoria, it's permissible to conscript them to assist Kai in the transitioning process, provided that Kai doesn't reject their assistance. Finally, I argue that transitioning will make possible various opportunities for many trans persons who were denied those opportunities in their earthly lives, such as physically carrying a child or pursuing romantic or sexual unions with others in their preferred mode of embodiment.

People Involved: 
Status of Research or Work: 
Forthcoming