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SAGE Publication

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Gender & Society

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Sociologists studying gender have debated West and Zimmerman’s premise that “doing gender is unavoidable,” seeking to ascertain whether people can “undo” or only “redo” gender. While sociologists have been correct to focus on the interactional accomplishment of gender, they have neglected one of Garfinkel’s key insights about interaction: that people hold each other accountable to particular narratives. Neglecting the narrative aspect of doing—and undoing—gender impedes our ability to recognize processes of social change. Based on a qualitative study, we show how the movement for LGBTQI acceptance within U.S. conservative Protestant churches works to make gender not “omnirelevant” by challenging conservative “complementarity” narratives that posit two complementary, opposite sexes as a commandment preceding the Ten Commandments in time and importance. We explore this movement’s ambivalent relationship with homonormativity, highlight three ways this movement resists projecting binary gender narratives into scripture, and examine how some in this movement see the pursuit of social justice as a Christian mandate. The efforts of LGBTQI conservative Christians exemplify how reshaping sex/gender/sexual narratives can create possibilities for undoing gender.


Accepted version. Gender & Society, Vol. 33, No. 4 (August 2019): 583-606. DOI. © 2019 SAGE Publications. Used with permission.

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