Jen1, your questions are valuable and hard (depending on one’s starting point). I’m a fairly theologically conservative (which seems to be less and less meaningful or differently-meaning all the time) Protestant in the U.S. And I think it’s relevant to say that I’m 55 — was a young adult in the ‘80s, when there was plenty of gender bending experimentation going on, and andrograny in dress/styling was pretty common.
As you mentioned, certainly non-binary sexual variation has existed as long as humans have and would have been noticed, but probably not understood, in the ancient Near East. How people living with those variations were handled is beyond my knowledge. It would be valuable to know.
We have a much better understanding of these things today (causes, results, etc.) but at least in the tradition I’m part of, continue to fail to find a place in our theology for this knowledge, or continue to tighten our theology to shut more people out.
There has been a fairly recent movement of Christians, who are gay or same-sex-attracted, who have chosen to be open with their congregations and communities about what temptations they face — as brothers and sisters in Christ should be able to do in order to give and receive spiritual support, while committing themselves to live celibately. In reaction to this, we now hear that the temptation itself is equivalent to sin. And we hear that we should mince words in regard to empathy/compassion/sympathy for people struggling to live their Christian lives as they believe they should. So, even a faithful middle way, that allows for truthfulness and support within the Body of Christ and strict adherance to Protestant doctrines is seen as degenrate.
Additionally, there is more and more pressure, among Protestants here at least, to unbiblically prefer and elevate the Cult of Marriage and the Family over full-bodied faithful service of single people in the church. So, even if same-sex-attracted, theologically conservative, single Christians seek to live faithful lives to their Lord, their fellow pew members refuse to treat them as equals in the church. It’s insane.
And once we step out of the sharply binary box, there are simply no categories today to deal with them. As a not very girly girl (tall, deeper voice, fairly confident presentation) I have enjoyed some benefits of “gender vaguarities.” Generally, i have not had to deal with nearly as much demeaning sexism that my smaller, prettier, more feminine sisters have. Yet recently, in church settings, I find myself overlooked, when a man greets my husband. Or ignored in communciation relevant to both my husband and me. This is new to me. Really new.
So, now as we see the blossoming of the hyper-complimentarians in our churches, women are being shown their places more clearly, at least by some fellow pew-sitters. My bitterest gut feeling is that we MUST have a clear presentation of gender (independent of the biological vaguarities), so that we know better who is in charge, who needs to submit and to whom.
In this current church culture, even the gender-non-binary faithful celibate has no clear place in the church. As if WE hold the keys to the kingdom. THIS situation is perverse.
Understand that as conservative as my position is, and i acknowledge that it is, it’s quite radical in the spheres I belong to, which keep pulling the corset strings tighter and tighter.
I think I really came nowhere near answering your question, but just added to it. At this time, all I see are problems with good answers being shot down constantly.