On the seventh day [of the banquet], when the king was merry with wine, he commanded the eunuchs who attended him to bring Queen Vashti before the king, wearing the royal crown, in order to show the peoples and the officials her beauty … but Queen Vashti refused to come at the king’s command conveyed by the eunuchs. – Esther 1:10-12 (NRSV)
Pretty much as long as this story has been around, sages and thinkers have been trying to figure out why Vashti would refuse the king’s command. Some have speculated that his actual order was for her to appear naked, wearing the crown and nothing else. Further, they reason, the Archangel Michael must have come and given Vashti a penis. Surely she would gladly have shown up to be ogled by her drunk husband and his friends if it weren’t for that, they say. She was simply too ashamed.
Obviously, the men who thought this all up were not fans of Vashti’s. I am a fan of Vashti’s, however, and I kind of love this take on the story. Not in its original intent, of course. But consider this: What if they sort of got the facts right, and just interpreted them wrong? What if Vashti was in fact born in a male body? And what if her gender identity was female, so she expressed herself that way, dressed and lived and married as the woman she truly was?
If so, this would arguably make her the first trans queen of color.
As a model of strength and self-possession, I didn’t think Vashti could get any better. I was wrong.
For Vashtis everywhere who refuse to grant control of their bodies to others, we give you thanks, O God. Help us to build a world where every trans queen of color is honored, celebrated, and safe. Amen.
Quinn G. Caldwell is a father, husband, homesteader and preacher living in rural upstate New York. His most recent book is a series of daily reflections for Advent and Christmas called All I Really Want: Readings for a Modern Christmas. Learn more about it and find him on Facebook at Quinn G. Caldwell.