The first class Virginia Ramey Mollenkott took in college was literature, and she just knew she had to pursue it further. She proceeded to earn a Bachelor of Arts from Bob Jones University and a Master of Arts from Temple University, which propelled her to a position as the chair of the English Department at Shelton College. Dr. Mollenkott specialized in 17th century English literature because, although it was a very classist system, it produced wonderful poetry. She also researched the relationship between sexuality and spirituality. To enhance her professional standing, Dr. Mollenkott obtained a PhD from New York University. This helped her advance to roles like chair of the English Department at Nyack College, professor of English at William Paterson University, and chair of the English Department at William Paterson University. She has served as a professor emeritus at the school since 1997.
Some of the highlights of Dr. Mollenkott’s journey include speaking at the first convention of evangelical feminists at the conservative Baptist Theological Seminary in Denver, Colorado, in 1973, delivering the first women’s liberation speech at Malone College in 1974, and presenting at the first national gathering of the Evangelical Women’s Caucus in Washington, D.C., in 1975. She enjoyed it so much she gave plenary speeches at almost every gathering of the organization for the next 40 years. She also lectured widely on lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender rights, and joined the advisory board of the Program on Gender and Society at the Rochester Divinity School (now Colgate Crozer Divinity School).
To further share her findings, Dr. Mollenkott has published many books, book chapters, and articles. She most recently contributed a chapter, “Trans-forming Feminist Christianity,” to “New Feminist Christianity: Many Voices, Many Views,” which was edited by Mary Hunt and Diann Neu and released in 2010. Other notable works include “Sensuous Spirituality: Out from Fundamentalism, Revised Edition,” “Omnigender: A Trans-Religious Approach,” “Transgender Journeys,” “Women, Men and the Bible, First Revised Edition,” and “Godding: Human Responsibility and the Bible.” Her book, “The Divine Feminine: Biblical Imagery of God as Female,” was released in Italian, French, German, and English.
Dr. Mollenkott has been active in the literary field in other ways too. She has been a member of the editorial board of Studies in Theology & Sexuality since 1997, and a manuscript evaluator for the Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion since 1994. Previously, she served as the editor of “Women of Faith in Dialogue” and “Adam among the Television Trees,” a contributing editor of “The Other Side” and “The Witness,” and an assistant editor of “Seventeenth Century News.”
In recognition of her efforts, Dr. Mollenkott was honored with a variety of accolades over the years. She received the Mother Eagle Award from the Christian Feminist Today and Gay Christian Network in 2017, and both the Lambda Literary Award from the Lambda Literary Foundation and the Ben Franklin Award from the Independent Book Publishers Association for her book, “Omnigender: A Trans-Religious Approach,” in 2002. Notably, she also received the Lambda Literary Award for Transgender/Bisexual Literature from the Lambda Literary Foundation in 2001, the Lifetime Achievement Award from Services and Advocacy for LGBT Elders (now SAGE) in 1999, the New Jersey Lesbian and Gay Lifetime Achievement Award in 1992, an honorary doctorate in ministries from Samaritan College in 1989, and the Integrity Award for her book, “Is the Homosexual My Neighbor? A Positive Christian Response, Revised Edition,” in 1979.