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Understanding Gender Dysphoria: Navigating Transgender Issues in a Changing Culture

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Foreword Reviews' 18th Annual INDIEFAB Honorable Mention for Psychology Few topics are more contested today than gender identity. In the fog of the culture war, complex issues like gender dysphoria are reduced to slogans and sound bites. And while the war rages over language, institutions and political allegiances, transgender individuals are the ones who end up being the c Foreword Reviews' 18th Annual INDIEFAB Honorable Mention for Psychology Few topics are more contested today than gender identity. In the fog of the culture war, complex issues like gender dysphoria are reduced to slogans and sound bites. And while the war rages over language, institutions and political allegiances, transgender individuals are the ones who end up being the casualties. Mark Yarhouse, an expert in sexual identity and therapy, challenges the church to rise above the political hostilities and listen to people's stories. In Understanding Gender Dysphoria, Yarhouse offers a Christian perspective on transgender issues that eschews simplistic answers and appreciates the psychological and theological complexity. The result is a book that engages the latest research while remaining pastorally sensitive to the experiences of each person. In the midst of a tense political climate, Yarhouse calls Christians to come alongside those on the margins and stand with them as they resolve their questions and concerns about gender identity. Understanding Gender Dysphoria is the book we need to navigate these stormy cultural waters.


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Foreword Reviews' 18th Annual INDIEFAB Honorable Mention for Psychology Few topics are more contested today than gender identity. In the fog of the culture war, complex issues like gender dysphoria are reduced to slogans and sound bites. And while the war rages over language, institutions and political allegiances, transgender individuals are the ones who end up being the c Foreword Reviews' 18th Annual INDIEFAB Honorable Mention for Psychology Few topics are more contested today than gender identity. In the fog of the culture war, complex issues like gender dysphoria are reduced to slogans and sound bites. And while the war rages over language, institutions and political allegiances, transgender individuals are the ones who end up being the casualties. Mark Yarhouse, an expert in sexual identity and therapy, challenges the church to rise above the political hostilities and listen to people's stories. In Understanding Gender Dysphoria, Yarhouse offers a Christian perspective on transgender issues that eschews simplistic answers and appreciates the psychological and theological complexity. The result is a book that engages the latest research while remaining pastorally sensitive to the experiences of each person. In the midst of a tense political climate, Yarhouse calls Christians to come alongside those on the margins and stand with them as they resolve their questions and concerns about gender identity. Understanding Gender Dysphoria is the book we need to navigate these stormy cultural waters.

30 review for Understanding Gender Dysphoria: Navigating Transgender Issues in a Changing Culture

  1. 4 out of 5

    Maggie

    What this book should really be called: "Understanding Gender Dysphoria When You Live in a Conservative Evangelical Bubble." It breaks my heart that some Jesus-followers need to hear that gender dysphoria is not a choice. But apparently some of them do, and Yarhouse tells them. So, mission accomplished? My main issue with the book is that for all his touting of our need for an "integrated framework" he does not take an objective view of the three frameworks he discusses throughout the book. He oft What this book should really be called: "Understanding Gender Dysphoria When You Live in a Conservative Evangelical Bubble." It breaks my heart that some Jesus-followers need to hear that gender dysphoria is not a choice. But apparently some of them do, and Yarhouse tells them. So, mission accomplished? My main issue with the book is that for all his touting of our need for an "integrated framework" he does not take an objective view of the three frameworks he discusses throughout the book. He often wrote about the "diversity framework" (the most liberal view, I guess) in a negative light - saying that there are some theorists in this camp who want to do away with gender all together, that it is 100% a punishing social construct. Ok....that is probably just like two people in the field of sexual ethics, but whatever. Meanwhile, he offers no such explicit criticism of the "integrity framework," which I think is ultimately damaging and dangerous. He more or less esteems that framework and never points out that the farther end of this framework is the fundamentalist view that disowns children, refuses to gain any scientific understanding of gender, biological sex, etc. The tiny minority of extreme theorists in the diversity camp aren't the ones contributing to the homelessness rates, suicide rates, etc. of trans people, fundamentalists in the integrity camp are! Also - this book is inherently triggering for anyone with gender dysphoria and their loved ones who are desperately trying to find a LOVING Christ-like Christian book on the topic. Yarhouse is a professor at Regent University, which was founded by Pat Robertson in 1977. NOPE NOPE AND NOPE. One thing I *think* I appreciate about this book is his repeated advice for people with gender dysphoria to find a way to live with it (not suffer with it, not want to die because of it, etc.) in the least invasive ways possible. Least invasive does not mean least obvious - he's not asking people to hide who they really are - and he fully acknowledges several times that for some people "least invasive" will mean hormones, surgery, etc. That jibes with my general notion of wellness: let's keep it simple until it needs to be complex. Overall, it is more descriptive than prescriptive, which thankfully keeps it from being more damaging than it already is. And like I said upfront, unless you live in a conservative evangelical bubble or want to understand the perspective of people living in that bubble, don't bother. Any positive message of grace, respect, listening, sensitivity, compassion, nuance, etc. was already apparent to me prior to reading the book.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Joel Wentz

    Not the **easiest** book to read, but definitely one of the most important recent books I have read that is written by an Evangelical to an Evangelical audience. Yarhouse draws on his personal counseling experience thoughtfully, but also wisely stays away from any "emotional appeals," which are prevalent in conversations surrounding sexuality/gender in the current climate. He pastorally draws the reader into the complexities of the transgender situation/discussion, and humbly suggests ways forwa Not the **easiest** book to read, but definitely one of the most important recent books I have read that is written by an Evangelical to an Evangelical audience. Yarhouse draws on his personal counseling experience thoughtfully, but also wisely stays away from any "emotional appeals," which are prevalent in conversations surrounding sexuality/gender in the current climate. He pastorally draws the reader into the complexities of the transgender situation/discussion, and humbly suggests ways forward. Overall, I walked away from this read with a much deeper appreciation of the nuances of gender identity/confusion, and with more compassion for those impacted (which I'm sure was Yarhouse's goal). I will be pushing this into the hands of many of my church leaders & friends.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Aogu Fujihashi

    Helps readers achieve a balanced perspective in which they can develop their own Biblically grounded but simultaneously culturally relevant conclusions and applications with regard to the phenomenon of gender dysphoria. Writing style is scholarly but clear. Certain points were revisited many times. While I imagine that this might be interpreted as being redundant, I found it useful as it helped me to identify the main concepts.

  4. 4 out of 5

    John

    I am not at all expert on most of the issues involved in this book, so I review it as one with some experience in sexual ethics and otherwise no research or clinical experience in psychology--the main discourse of the book and the expertise of the author. I found helpful the book's steady tone: calmly expository, warmly concerned for everyone involved, only gently critical, and conspicuously humble. Would that more of our Christian teachers and leaders could maintain such poise in such areas! The I am not at all expert on most of the issues involved in this book, so I review it as one with some experience in sexual ethics and otherwise no research or clinical experience in psychology--the main discourse of the book and the expertise of the author. I found helpful the book's steady tone: calmly expository, warmly concerned for everyone involved, only gently critical, and conspicuously humble. Would that more of our Christian teachers and leaders could maintain such poise in such areas! The book's frameworks for analysis, and particularly the three-fold schema of integrity/disability/diversity paradigms, were sustained in an illuminating way. Less clear to me, alas, was the author's preference for an "integrated" approach: It never came into focus for me as a clear, coherent, and well-grounded paradigm, but rather seemed mostly to consist of drawing on the other three paradigms ad hoc...and without clear guidance as to how to do so best. As a way in to the complex world of trans*, therefore, I recommend it. By reducing my confusion and improving my understanding of the landscape, I feel able to care more gently and more respectfully for my students and others who are wrestling with one or another of these issues.

  5. 4 out of 5

    David Clouse

    The first two chapters and the last two are the most beneficial. Very informative but not a book you’ll want to read for more than 30 minutes at a time.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Anna Hudak

    What a trainwreck of a book. This book was written for one group only: white, cisgender, straight, evangelicals. This book is in service of that group, because this book does nothing to inform or educate on trans people. It serves only to further bias against trans people. This book has so many problems I don't even know where to start. I guess first I would start with the constant dead-naming. Mark even does this on the first page of the introduction. There is no excuse, or reason to dead-name a What a trainwreck of a book. This book was written for one group only: white, cisgender, straight, evangelicals. This book is in service of that group, because this book does nothing to inform or educate on trans people. It serves only to further bias against trans people. This book has so many problems I don't even know where to start. I guess first I would start with the constant dead-naming. Mark even does this on the first page of the introduction. There is no excuse, or reason to dead-name a trans person. All you are doing is causing harm to that person and giving the signal to others that it's ok to invalidate who they are. The book gets even worse by misgendering almost all the time. Then, the author can't decide between "transgender" and "transsexual." Seriously, pick one. He actually puts up a fuss about the term "sex assigned at birth," when that's literally what it is. He constantly dehumanizes trans people with terms such as "gender dysphoric persons." He constantly uses the term "biological male/female" which is a made up term as scientifically, there is no such thing. He constantly pretends gender and sex are a binary, when they are not. This has been shown to be true for decades now. Sex is bimodal and gender is a social construct with no basis in reality. He constantly uses discredited studies such as ones claiming that trans people become trans due to fathers being emotionally distant, and ones that claim most "desist" from a trans identity. He also pretends that studies show that abuse causes people to be trans. He constantly makes controversies like when he claims that people are protesting against the term "assigned gender" because of intersex people. He constantly makes claims and never substantiates them, I guess believing that everyone reading already agrees, such as: "sex differences are instructive." He pretends that studies show that transitioning doesn't help trans people's mental health improve when literally almost every single study does say that trans people's mental health improves from transitioning. I could keep going on about the problems with this book, but at some point I need to wrap this up. The most infuriating thing about this book is how he tries to pretend to be this enlightened centrist when at times he directly says what he wants: for trans people to learn how to live as their assigned sex at birth (despite studies showing this to be harmful) and for children to be forced back into "normal" gender roles instead of gender-variant ones. He directly says these things throughout the book. I honestly would have had more respect for him if he had just been open in his transphobia and desire for trans people to submit to what he directly calls "Biblical views on sex and gender." Nothing is more angering than a person hiding their true views in a terrible attempt to appear neutral. At least others like Abigail Shrier had the decency to be open about their true beliefs. Mark Yarhouse continually write transphobic things (so many that this review would be much to long to read), and then turns around and says he believes trans people and wants what's best for us, and then turns around again and says we just need to fit in to evangelical views and not live in what he calls "the diversity framework," which is what we live in because it's the only "framework" that brings healing, joy, and meaning. It's the only affirming one that builds one another up. The "integrity" and "disability" frameworks are destructive and only cause harm to trans people. Yet, he pushes them on us while claiming he cares about trans people. While promoting parents to not let kids transition, while saying trans adults shouldn't transition and get surgery. The worst slap in the face is taking Ray Blanchard seriously. Blanchard has been discredited by actual experts on trans psychology and medicine for decades. Yet, Yarhouse (consistently) decides he's smarter than the experts and takes Blanchard seriously and uses Blanchard's discredited views to create his own views on trans people. Actually, now that I think about it, the worst slap in the face is when he directly admits that trans people's internal gender identity (e.g., someone assigned male at birth identifying as female, a.k.a. a trans woman) is their real selves. He directly says that. He says that me, someone assigned male at birth is living as my real self by living as a woman (something I am currently doing). Then he immediately turns around and says that we shouldn't be living as our true selves. Why not? Why do cis gender people get to be their real selves but I'm not allowed to. It's needlessly cruel.  This book is woefully un-informed on psychology, history, science, studies on trans people, and theology. In the end, I want to wrap this up by saying that Mark Yarhouse is not a serious person meant to be taken seriously.

  7. 4 out of 5

    David

    This is the second book I read recently discussing transgender and intersex issues. I tried to choose two books that would be on opposite ends of the scale, in terms of how people of faith relate. This book was a bit more middle of the road then I expected, so I could see it upsetting the most conservative end of people of faith. Here the author goes into detail, examining what causes gender dysphoria, what the scripture says and how to help people. As for what causes it, he says that no one rea This is the second book I read recently discussing transgender and intersex issues. I tried to choose two books that would be on opposite ends of the scale, in terms of how people of faith relate. This book was a bit more middle of the road then I expected, so I could see it upsetting the most conservative end of people of faith. Here the author goes into detail, examining what causes gender dysphoria, what the scripture says and how to help people. As for what causes it, he says that no one really knows for sure, though it definitely is not just a choice people make (which does seem obvious). He attempts to tread a path between one extreme position of seeing people as sinful and needing to just choose differently and the other extreme of just affirming anything and everything with little question. His book point is to listen to people, try to understand their experience, show people experiencing gender dysphoria the same love and grace we show anyone else, and also show a lot of humility in recognizing none of this is simple. A helpful book.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Brice Karickhoff

    This book provides an extremely helpful and informative discussion of gender dysphoria and transsexuality, and then builds a framework for how The Church might respond with truth and compassion to these topics. From a content standpoint, I thought this book was really incredible. I learned an incredible amount about an issue that I thought I understood well, but quickly realized I do not. The author has a strong understanding of psychology, the current political and cultural landscape, theology, This book provides an extremely helpful and informative discussion of gender dysphoria and transsexuality, and then builds a framework for how The Church might respond with truth and compassion to these topics. From a content standpoint, I thought this book was really incredible. I learned an incredible amount about an issue that I thought I understood well, but quickly realized I do not. The author has a strong understanding of psychology, the current political and cultural landscape, theology, and evangelical culture. He thoroughly discusses how gender dysphoria is understood within several different frameworks, and does well to pull on lessons from each of these frameworks to build an “integrated framework” that will help the reader to proceed with love, grace, and truth. The book discusses abstract ideas and research and tells the stories of individuals in their own words, allowing the reader to think about these issues at a macro and micro level. Reading was informative, thought-provoking, and practical. The only negative aspect of this book is that it was not always written particularly well. A couple times a chapter, a sentence wouldn’t make sense to me no matter how many times I read it. While the book was readable, it wasn’t necessarily captivating. I don’t expect a non-fiction book like this to be particularly entertaining, but the best ones are. Ultimately, this book is certainly a great place to start reading about gender dysphoria for anyone, but especially a Christian who is carefully learning how to approach culture war issues with conviction and compassion.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Dan

    He gives good tools to use, especially in light of having better words to use and concepts to implement in pastoral ministry. However, he doesn’t have a very developed understanding of what unrepentant sin means, let alone original sin. As per usual, there isn’t a proper distinguishing between how the law and gospel can be used, but that’s expected and I can fill in those holes. Overall, you’ll probably be able to implement strategies to your own church/denomination from what he sets forth here. He gives good tools to use, especially in light of having better words to use and concepts to implement in pastoral ministry. However, he doesn’t have a very developed understanding of what unrepentant sin means, let alone original sin. As per usual, there isn’t a proper distinguishing between how the law and gospel can be used, but that’s expected and I can fill in those holes. Overall, you’ll probably be able to implement strategies to your own church/denomination from what he sets forth here. But honestly, dude, you have to talk about emphasizing one’s identity in Christ over and above their “Transgender Identity™️.”

  10. 4 out of 5

    Josiah Hatfield

    Good overview of transgender issues from a psychological and Christian perspective. Yarhouse certainly has a Christian audience in mind; good for those working at faith organizations and institutions.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Corey

    In his book, Understanding Gender Dysphoria, Mark Yarhouse, a Christian psychologist makes a modest attempt to help Christians better understand the topic of Gender Dysphoria. Gender Dysphoria is a technical term to describe “The experience of distress associated with the incongruence wherein one’s psychological and emotional gender identity does not match one’s biological sex” (p.20). And in this book, Yarhouse distinguishes between this, and what is commonly called Transgender, which is an “um In his book, Understanding Gender Dysphoria, Mark Yarhouse, a Christian psychologist makes a modest attempt to help Christians better understand the topic of Gender Dysphoria. Gender Dysphoria is a technical term to describe “The experience of distress associated with the incongruence wherein one’s psychological and emotional gender identity does not match one’s biological sex” (p.20). And in this book, Yarhouse distinguishes between this, and what is commonly called Transgender, which is an “umbrella” term to describe the many different ways that people might experience, present or express their gender identity in ways different from those whose identities are congruent with their birth sex. Whereas the latter is outward, focusing on things like behavior, dress, and certain treatments such as hormone therapy and sex reassignment, Gender Dysphoria (GD), which is a medical condition in the DSM-5, deals with the internal distress one feels because of this incongruence. How should we understand Gender Dysphoria? What causes it? And how should it be treated. Answers to such questions depend on which framework you adopt. According to Yarhouse, there are three basic frameworks that have been taken. The first is the integrity framework. The integrity framework stresses the sacredness of our creation as male and female. Those who adopt this framework view those who are transgender as people who are willfully rebelling against their birth sex, and stubbornly choosing to be different. The integrity framework sees those with Gender Dysphoria primarily as sinners. The disability framework, however, views the transgender person who through the lens of living in a fallen world. It is because the world is broken, not because transgender people are actively rebelling, that some people experience GD. This framework seeks a more compassionate and understanding route, and sees the transgender person primarily as disabled. And finally, the third approach, known as the diversity framework views the transgender person through the lens of cultural diversity, seeing their transgenderism as part of the community to which they belong. There are two forms - a strong form and a weak form. The strong form seeks to deconstruct sex and gender, completely nullifying the sacredness of male and female. They view transgender as good. The weak form sees transgender people trough the lens of identity and community. Yarhouse spends a significant portion of the book explaining Gender Dysphoria and Transgender issues through these frameworks. In the end, he argues that each one by itself is insufficient. But he sees value in all three (with the exception to the strong form of the diversity framework). So instead, he argues for an “integrated framework,” which takes the best of each of the three other views and gels them into one integrated approach. Essentially, Yarhouse wants to keep the sacredness of male/female from the integrity framework, the compassion and simple truth that GD exists in the context of a fallen world. People don’t choose to experience GD, they describe it as something that happens to them, they feel (for example) "like a woman trapped in man’s body" which causes them distress. And finally, and perhaps most controversially for Christians, Yarhouse also sees the merits in the identity and community approach offered by the diversity framework. Only when we take the best of all three approaches will Christians be poised to listen with compassion while not compromising the sacredness of gender. Though I know very little about this topic, I think Yarhouse’s integrated framework is correct, and pastors need be equipped to navigate the cultural landscape and to shepherd those who experience Gender Dysphoria. Finally, as Yarhouse argues, pastors and counselors should be aware of the rare but very real phenomenon of GD, and appreciate the complexity of what is at stake. It will take a lot more than political headlines and soundbites to really understand what is happening to a person who experiences GD, but our calling as ministry leaders requires nothing less.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Daniel

    This is excellent, you should read it.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Michael Miller

    While Mark Yarhouse never explicitly states his purpose in writing Understanding Gender Dysphoria, the title itself is instructive. Likewise, in the introduction he says, “this book invites Christians to reflect on several issues related to [gender dysphoria] …” (p.13). He “would like reader to gain greater insight in the experiences of people who navigate Gender Dysphoria” P.13). Reflection, insight, and understanding are the stated goals, though I believe he hopes for more than that (see my ev While Mark Yarhouse never explicitly states his purpose in writing Understanding Gender Dysphoria, the title itself is instructive. Likewise, in the introduction he says, “this book invites Christians to reflect on several issues related to [gender dysphoria] …” (p.13). He “would like reader to gain greater insight in the experiences of people who navigate Gender Dysphoria” P.13). Reflection, insight, and understanding are the stated goals, though I believe he hopes for more than that (see my evaluation below). Yarhouse is writing to (Evangelical?) Christians and to the church at large. His invitation to reflect is addressed to Christians. The practical Responses that make up the last two chapters are Christians as individuals and at the corporate level. The book begins (chapter 1) by setting forth the basic question and defining and clarifying the key terms necessary to understand what follows. He defines GD: “Dysphoria means being uneasy about or generally dissatisfied with something. Thus, gender dysphoria refers to the experience of having a psychological and emotional gender identity that does not correspond to your biological sex. This perceived incongruity can be the source of deep and ongoing discomfort” (p.19). In chapter 2, he offers a Christian perspective by (very briefly) examining (a few) passages like I Corinthians 6, Deuteronomy 22:5, Matthew 19:12, etc. He then describes what he calls the Four Acts of the Biblical Drama (creation, fall, redemption, glorification) as a thematic way to understand GD within the grand scheme of God’s plan for humanity. He also sets forth three conceptual frameworks by which people view GD. The Integrity Framework (focus is on the “sacred integrity of maleness and femaleness”), the Disability Framework (GD is a mental health issue ultimately rooted in the fall – it’s a matter of “not functioning as originally intended”), and the Diversity Framework (gender diversity is “to be celebrated, honored or revered”). The last framework has a weak form (focusing on identity and community) and a strong form (call for the deconstruction of norms). Yarhouse is opposed to the strong form but believes we can and should pursue an “integrated framework” that balances the various views (p.53). In the next three chapters he looks at the latest scientific research and clinical and professional literature on GD. First, in chapter 3, he summarizes the various causes that have been hypothesized. His answer is that we do not know what causes gender dysphoria (p.61), but he lays out brain-sex theory, Blanchard’s Typology, and multifactorial models emphasizing psychosocial factors. Second, in chapter 4, he looks at the phenomenology of GD (how it presents in child, adolescent, and adult patients) and its prevalence. He concludes that “gender dysphoria that rises to the level of a diagnosable disorder. . . is quite rare (p.99). Finally, in chapter 5, he explores various proposals for treatment and prevention, from watchful waiting to puberty suppression (for children) to sex reassignment surgery (for adults). Yarhouse always favors the least intrusive interventions. The last two chapters attempt to bring all the information together in a way that will help inform how Christians respond to GD at the individual and corporate level. If Yarhouse’s purpose was merely to provide reflection, insight, and understanding, I would say he did accomplish his goal. As someone with little to no knowledge of these matters before reading the book, it was eye opening and informative. By exposing me to the current state of the research (especially in chapters 3-5), he certainly helped me better understand a very complex and difficult issue in a more nuanced and sensitive way. His use of real-life clinical examples to humanized those with GD in a very helpful way. I really appreciated his compassionate, pastoral tone and his urgency to find a way forward on this issue within the church. However, if he further desired to change the hearts and minds of conservative evangelicals to a more open and accepting attitude toward those with GD, he likely did not accomplish his goal to any meaningful extent. While he did a great job presenting clinical and research data on GD, he stumbled with the biblical and theological questions. His limited engagement with a few verses before moving on to frameworks was disappointing. Instead, he said, “I think we do better to look at broader biblical themes…” (p.34). But you cannot establish broader themes without building them on the scaffolding of many specific instances, which he failed to do. He needed to meaningfully engage with Scripture, not press on to generalities. Facts are sacred things; they should not be sacrificed on the altar of generalities. He said, “I find myself unconvinced that they [the passage he did look at] alone provide the final word” (p.34). Perhaps these few verses are not the FINAL word, but surely, they are A word nonetheless, worth seriously considering – while also diligently searching for more biblical words to supplement them. Rather, as happens so often in these difficult cultural issues, he resorts to the not-everyone-agrees-on-the-meaning-of-these-passages-so-we-can’t-know-with-certainty-and-cannot-base-any-decision-on-them argument. With a handwave, a serious examination of Scripture is dismissed from consideration. Most conservative evangelicals would agree (in principle if not in practice) with his emphasis on meeting people where they are with the gospel and showing compassion but would balk at any hint that the church should back away from what they see as clear biblical teaching on gender expression. If you are writing a book to change the hearts and minds of evangelicals regarding GD, you must not fail to offer a strong Scriptural argument. No amount of research or anecdotes will trump a sound exposition of the Biblical passages related to these issues. I believe that most of the people he hopes to influence will say, “That’s very helpful information and we appreciate the insightful case studies, but what does the Bible say about this?” They need to hear him affirm that the biblical perspective is not just one of many; it is the normative perspective by which the others are evaluated.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Todd Miles

    This is an important book. It is helpfully written by a respected evangelical for Christians, especially church leaders. The book is highly technical for the first five chapters, but Yarhouse returns again and again to the three frameworks of integrity (created sexes and genders), disability (gender dysphoria is a result of the fall), and diversity (dysphoria is to be accepted and celebrated). For the uninitiated on this subject, his continuity with these three frameworks is helpful. (He is most This is an important book. It is helpfully written by a respected evangelical for Christians, especially church leaders. The book is highly technical for the first five chapters, but Yarhouse returns again and again to the three frameworks of integrity (created sexes and genders), disability (gender dysphoria is a result of the fall), and diversity (dysphoria is to be accepted and celebrated). For the uninitiated on this subject, his continuity with these three frameworks is helpful. (He is most sympathetic to the integrity and disability frameworks.) Yarhouse writes with humility and expertise. In the last two chapters, Yarhouse moves the reader toward a Christian response to gender dysphoria, focusing on the Christian response to the individual and then considerations for the institutional church. It is a difficult topic that Yarhouse undertakes, but he has given pastors and church leaders much to think about and consider.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Joshua Reichard

    The most discouraging thing about this book is that Yarhouse failed to handle scripture well and failed to critically think about how transgenderism is more then an identity. It’s a result of the fall it is an out come that is contrary to God’s intended purpose. That doesn’t mean the church should reject those who struggle with it. It doesn’t mean we should put those down who embrace it. It means with love care and respect we should be working with one another and truly see and embrace God’s int The most discouraging thing about this book is that Yarhouse failed to handle scripture well and failed to critically think about how transgenderism is more then an identity. It’s a result of the fall it is an out come that is contrary to God’s intended purpose. That doesn’t mean the church should reject those who struggle with it. It doesn’t mean we should put those down who embrace it. It means with love care and respect we should be working with one another and truly see and embrace God’s intended purpose for us. Namely to glorify God. Beating around the bush and trying to make gender dysphora more complex then it is, makes no sense. I found myself in tears at how blind he is and how he turns a deaf ear to the truth. I have this a one star because Yarhouse fails to communicate that gender dysphora is something that should be handled with care using the scripture, not his common experiences.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Dorothy Greco

    An important read on perhaps one of the most confusing issues in our culture. Yarhouse is generous with his knowledge. However, notably absent in the book were two things that for me would have bumped up his rating. First, a specific point of view. I know it's an academic book but it wasn't until the next to the last chapter that Yarhouse seemed willing to share his personal understanding and feelings on the topic. This made the book lack a moral core. Second, he never mentioned whether or not t An important read on perhaps one of the most confusing issues in our culture. Yarhouse is generous with his knowledge. However, notably absent in the book were two things that for me would have bumped up his rating. First, a specific point of view. I know it's an academic book but it wasn't until the next to the last chapter that Yarhouse seemed willing to share his personal understanding and feelings on the topic. This made the book lack a moral core. Second, he never mentioned whether or not the gospel/one's faith might have any impact for those with unwanted gender confusion. Does he not believe that transformation happens? As in never? Even if he disagreed with this, it seems as an academic and a researcher it was worth a passing comment. Worth the time but ultimately unsatisfying for me on an emotional and spiritual level.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Micaela Hardyman

    I can imagine this book would be a little challenging to people who are not as familiar with some of the language in the psychology and research world - not to mention the language associated with gender identity concerns specifically. It can certainly be a little heady at times. However, this book says a lot of things that are so, so important for Christians to hear. I especially appreciated the last two chapters and the discussion of, essentially, how we as individual Christians and as the chu I can imagine this book would be a little challenging to people who are not as familiar with some of the language in the psychology and research world - not to mention the language associated with gender identity concerns specifically. It can certainly be a little heady at times. However, this book says a lot of things that are so, so important for Christians to hear. I especially appreciated the last two chapters and the discussion of, essentially, how we as individual Christians and as the church at large can do better. This book is another example of Dr. Yarhouse’s skill in humbly addressing complex issues in a way that does justice and communicates compassion towards all sides. The church would do well to follow his example.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Pastor Matt

    While the book does contain some helpful information, Dr. Yarhouse is far too ill informed about Scripture's teaching on gender (See the work of CBMW). He is certainly right that a variety of factors are at play, that Christians should cultivate redemptive community filled with humble people ready to listen, etc. But, he, like Andrew Martin before him, obviously leans more toward the prevailing culture than the clear teaching of the Bible. While the book does contain some helpful information, Dr. Yarhouse is far too ill informed about Scripture's teaching on gender (See the work of CBMW). He is certainly right that a variety of factors are at play, that Christians should cultivate redemptive community filled with humble people ready to listen, etc. But, he, like Andrew Martin before him, obviously leans more toward the prevailing culture than the clear teaching of the Bible.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Barnabas

    As a Christian and someone who has struggled with these issues myself, here is my thorough book review - https://healingfromcrossdressing.org/... As a Christian and someone who has struggled with these issues myself, here is my thorough book review - https://healingfromcrossdressing.org/...

  20. 5 out of 5

    Nathan Marone

    Per the title, Yarhouse's book is strong on the "understanding," but weak on the "navigating." That's just as well, because this is a book written primarily for conservative evangelicals and understanding is probably the place to start. To that end, I found Yarhouse's book very helpful. He defines categories well, offers a very compassionate clinician's perspective, and he never struck me as very dogmatic. His main premise is that (a) gender dysphoria is a real phenomenon that needs to be taken Per the title, Yarhouse's book is strong on the "understanding," but weak on the "navigating." That's just as well, because this is a book written primarily for conservative evangelicals and understanding is probably the place to start. To that end, I found Yarhouse's book very helpful. He defines categories well, offers a very compassionate clinician's perspective, and he never struck me as very dogmatic. His main premise is that (a) gender dysphoria is a real phenomenon that needs to be taken seriously and that (b) we should seek to assist those with gender dysphoria with the least invasive means possible. What is interesting about this is that Yarhouse maintains a conservative understanding of gender, but doesn't rule out invasive means of treatment, per se. That strikes me as a fine balance that would be hard to maintain in any church setting regardless of their theological approach. This might explain why some reviewers on this site don't like him for being too conservative and others don't like him because he's too liberal. As far as I can tell, he's giving due respect to the complexity and nuance in the subject matter. Other reviewers here have noted that Yarhouse's treatment of scripture is slight. I think that's a fair point, but it's also fair to note that there aren't very many passages of scripture that try to address the phenomenon of dissonance between biological sex and gender conceptualization. So I think Yarhouse's treatment, which involves looking at some of the broad strokes and themes of scripture, is the right one. I would recommend it. He's not going to affirm everything and he's not going to give you any "Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood" takes, but if transgenderism, intersex, and other related subjects are of interest to you, this seems like a helpful resource. I do wish he had included more of his perspective on how churches and other christian institutions can/should navigate these issues. He hints as some principles, which are good, but this area needs more fleshing out, because pastors, professors, and other institutional staff aren't going to come at this with a clinician's level of knowledge and experience. This includes myself, of course.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Joel Kersey

    This book was an important first step for me in understanding and sorting through the area of gender dysphoria. Mark rights at a high level of scholarship but he also repeats his key ideas in various way so the basic concepts begin to sink in over the course of the book. I was thankful for his analysis of the three part framework in how we evaluate this area today (integrity, disability, diversity). I also appreciated the reminder for me that most people are not choosing this conflict within them This book was an important first step for me in understanding and sorting through the area of gender dysphoria. Mark rights at a high level of scholarship but he also repeats his key ideas in various way so the basic concepts begin to sink in over the course of the book. I was thankful for his analysis of the three part framework in how we evaluate this area today (integrity, disability, diversity). I also appreciated the reminder for me that most people are not choosing this conflict within themselves because they want to defy their biological birth sex and the God who created them. Rather, this dysphoria is often thrust upon them without their consent. This is an important first step in hearing from someone working to understand this dysphoria in their life. I also appreciated the many examples of ways that churches and church communities have done nothing but go straight to the integrity framework for responding to the issue. This is a reminder that we need to strive for grace, understanding and compassion along with also affirming the identity of a person in that they have not necessarily chosen this for themselves. I was disappointed that there were not clearer and more straightforward steps for approaching this issue from an integrity framework. Mark acknowledges that this cannot be the sole framework by which we work, but I also did not feel there were clear directives for how this framework should be integrated into the discussion beyond, "don't use it in isolation." Mark has a clear biblical ethic and desire to honor God. He has a clear desire to understand the issue and to emphasize the importance of honoring our command to love others in light of this difficult subject. I'm glad I read this book. I have much more to read and consider on the subject.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Clifford Luebben

    Two words that come to mind with this book: compassionate and nuanced. To me, Dr. Yarhouse comes across as someone who wants to love those with Gender Dysphoria as Christ would and is trying to help the church do the same. He lays out the human struggle at the heart of all this. He also clearly took the time and painstaking efforts to understand this issue from a variety of viewpoints from Christian pastors and theologians, from those with gender dysphoria both Christian and not, and medical res Two words that come to mind with this book: compassionate and nuanced. To me, Dr. Yarhouse comes across as someone who wants to love those with Gender Dysphoria as Christ would and is trying to help the church do the same. He lays out the human struggle at the heart of all this. He also clearly took the time and painstaking efforts to understand this issue from a variety of viewpoints from Christian pastors and theologians, from those with gender dysphoria both Christian and not, and medical research. I can't imagine how anyone could have done a more thorough job. He lays out how complicated this issue is and how it has to be addressed with nuance. This is the first book I've read on Gender Dysphoria and transgenderism. I definitely consider myself to still be listening and learning. One takeaway I do have is that this issue has to be addressed with nuance. That's also my concern: I think people are yearning for simple answers on this and will gravitate to ones offered in the world of culture war. I think that will cause more harm than good. I think to have much hope of ministering to those with gender dysphoria and their families in our community, church communities will need to distance themselves from the culture war side of this as much as they can. Other than that I don't have conclusions and I don't think Dr. Yarhouse was trying to give us conclusions. This book I think is more to lay the foundations to think through this issue so Christians and churches can come to their conclusions in an informed manner. I do recommend this book for anyone trying to think through this issue from a Christian perspective.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Sara

    Incredibly useful for getting my bearings on such a complex, sensitive and politically-charged issue. Yarhouse is not interested in winning the culture war on this, which is outrageously refreshing. Instead, he is deeply committed to finding and communicating only what is true and actually helpful for transgender people and those who serve them in both clinical and spiritual contexts. He manages to be both completely honest and utterly compassionate throughout his discussion of what we know (and Incredibly useful for getting my bearings on such a complex, sensitive and politically-charged issue. Yarhouse is not interested in winning the culture war on this, which is outrageously refreshing. Instead, he is deeply committed to finding and communicating only what is true and actually helpful for transgender people and those who serve them in both clinical and spiritual contexts. He manages to be both completely honest and utterly compassionate throughout his discussion of what we know (and don't know) about the causes of transgender feelings, the various ways/degrees that they manifest themselves, treatment options, etc. If you listen to popular media nowadays, you'd think that every person who experiences discomfort with their biological sex has no choice but to assume a transgender identity at the core of their being, and to ultimately transition to the opposite sex. This just isn't true. The vast majority of children who present as transgender will grow out of it on their own (if adults don't interfere by giving them drugs). The vast majority of people who cross-dress do it privately and occasionally, never needing to transition surgically, or even socially. Yarhouse gave me a much more accurate picture of what life is like for those who experience transgender feelings, from the "tomboy" end of the spectrum, to the extreme (and rare) cases of those who feel they'll go insane if they don't surgically alter their bodies. Highly recommend.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Mike

    A very thoughtful and compassionate look at Transgender issues from a Christian perspective. What has stood out to me from reading Yarhouse is that he demonstrates that issues about Homosexuality and Transgenderism are not as simple as they seem. The big take away that I have learned is that most people, including Christians, do not just one day choose these life styles. They are ongoing struggles that they wrestle with. Many of them do not want to have these struggles and wish they could just b A very thoughtful and compassionate look at Transgender issues from a Christian perspective. What has stood out to me from reading Yarhouse is that he demonstrates that issues about Homosexuality and Transgenderism are not as simple as they seem. The big take away that I have learned is that most people, including Christians, do not just one day choose these life styles. They are ongoing struggles that they wrestle with. Many of them do not want to have these struggles and wish they could just be like everyone else. They often feel isolated and confused. Another takeaway is that there is not just one cause to which we can point. This makes helping someone difficult and should give us pause when we are tempted to offer easy solutions. There were times that I had wished he had interacted with scripture more. There were also moments where I was not sure where he was coming from. He seems to leave open the possibility that it is ok for people to pursue less invasive forms of transgender behavior. I am not sure how as a Christian that could be an option. I am wondering if this is because as a working therapist he works with Christian as well as non-Christian patients who would not share his beliefs. I was wondering how as a Christian we should respond if we encounter these struggles personally. I did not feel like I walked away with an answer after reading the book.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Beckett G.

    I can’t say that I particularly enjoyed this book. However, I do need to state my own bias. I am a trans man, therefore I do indeed experience gender dysphoria. And I was given this book to read from my evangelical parents shortly after coming out. I have since re-read this book to get a better feel for it. This is not a book to read to better understand transgender people, nor is it a book to help transgender people understand their own faith in accordance with their identity. This book left me I can’t say that I particularly enjoyed this book. However, I do need to state my own bias. I am a trans man, therefore I do indeed experience gender dysphoria. And I was given this book to read from my evangelical parents shortly after coming out. I have since re-read this book to get a better feel for it. This is not a book to read to better understand transgender people, nor is it a book to help transgender people understand their own faith in accordance with their identity. This book left me with a sour taste in how I am seen in a Christian light. It left me with the impression that I am making a grand mistake in my faith, and I am straying away from what is ideal. I do appreciate some aspects of this book. Yarhouse’s clear and descriptive writing paints the exact picture he is portraying. However, I do feel that there are better books out there that do a better job at helping cisgender Christians better understand their transgender peers. I know others who read this will think that this is an ideal book to read to better understand how to support their transgender peers in a Christian manner. And I respect anyone truly making an effort to learn. But this book is not a path towards education in that regard.

  26. 4 out of 5

    John

    Yarhouse includes lots of definition, methodology, and clinical discussion here, which, frankly, is necessary. The trans experience is (or better, Trans experiences are) profoundly under-understood in the broader culture, and especially in the church. I appreciate the grace of Yarhouse's approach, which focuses on listening, on working with people where they are, and affirming that people haven't chosen their dysphoria--all with a healthy respect for traditional Christian teaching about biologic Yarhouse includes lots of definition, methodology, and clinical discussion here, which, frankly, is necessary. The trans experience is (or better, Trans experiences are) profoundly under-understood in the broader culture, and especially in the church. I appreciate the grace of Yarhouse's approach, which focuses on listening, on working with people where they are, and affirming that people haven't chosen their dysphoria--all with a healthy respect for traditional Christian teaching about biological sex and the tensions that creates with the experiences trans people have. I am especially grateful for Yarhouse's three frameworks of thinking about the issue: integrity (focused on the sacredness of male and female as biological sex); disability (focused on the mental health aspects of trans experiences, with a connection to a fallen world); and diversity (focused on meaning making, identity, and finding a sense of community). Often, people draw upon one of these frameworks more than the others when they discuss this issue--Yarhouse argues for an integrated approach that doesn't have strictly defined boundaries, but it does recognize that there is value in each of the three lenses.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Cathy

    This book was recommended to us by a youth pastor as one for those who work with youth. I am glad I'm done reading this book. I don't know whether to rate it a 3 or a 4. It was a difficult read, "dense" as another friend described it, meaning that there's a lot of information in a short number of sentences. It's very detailed, no fluff writing. I appreciated that the author discussed various scientific studies, talking about the background, limitations, and possibilities of each, in a listing of a This book was recommended to us by a youth pastor as one for those who work with youth. I am glad I'm done reading this book. I don't know whether to rate it a 3 or a 4. It was a difficult read, "dense" as another friend described it, meaning that there's a lot of information in a short number of sentences. It's very detailed, no fluff writing. I appreciated that the author discussed various scientific studies, talking about the background, limitations, and possibilities of each, in a listing of all the pros and cons. Very thorough, and done fairly to a wide variety of viewpoints. It was also a hard read in that it was discouraging to note that so many cases did not end well. I'm trying to figure out what good information was left remaining from having read this book. What is the purpose in reading it? Understanding, compassion, perhaps. I appreciated the descriptions of the differing worldviews on gender dysphoria: Integrity (in which biological gender is sacred because of creation), disability (in which gender dysphoria is a result of the fall in the garden of Eden and should be treated compassionately), and diversity (as a sense of identity and community.) He then divided the diversity group into two forms, one that would like to destruct society's ideas of gender, and the other that just want the community from those facing similar things. The author's approach was to try to combine the integrity, disability, and the portion of the diversity view dealing with community. The author noted that most trans people are able to satisfy their feelings of gender dysphoria with occasional cross-dressing behavior without having to resort to surgery or hormone therapy. Apparently, the author has created a workbook in which someone can answer questions and find out what makes them feel better or worse, or to "map" their experiences, and to find meaning in this type of journey. This book also discussed how this can cause trans people to lose faith, depending on the reactions of those in their close, faith-communities. Another worthwhile writing on this topic is https://www.sds.asn.au/sites/default/...

  28. 4 out of 5

    Chris Baik

    In my time as part of the Church, I've met a fair share of people who struggle with same-sex attraction and gender dysphoria. I don't think I've never known what to do, nor have I really met many good role models who wouldn't drift to what this book would model as those who adhere firmly to either the "integrity" or the "diversity" framework. I've always been dissatisfied with both, because I felt they were partially-helpful but incomplete pictures that both seemed to often subscribe to the same In my time as part of the Church, I've met a fair share of people who struggle with same-sex attraction and gender dysphoria. I don't think I've never known what to do, nor have I really met many good role models who wouldn't drift to what this book would model as those who adhere firmly to either the "integrity" or the "diversity" framework. I've always been dissatisfied with both, because I felt they were partially-helpful but incomplete pictures that both seemed to often subscribe to the same belief that a person's identity is defined by their gender identity and/or sexual orientation, and I found that to be problematic from a theological perspective. This book was a really helpful read to see things from a different perspective. It was well-balanced and I'm thankful that it left a lot of room for people to arrive at their own conclusions instead of force-feeding some rant given the author's personal viewpoint. It gave hope that there's a means of engaging in these challenges from an individual-to-individual pastoral approach of love and not through some man-made legislated rule.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Tessa in Mid-Michigan

    Recommended by Ravi Zacharias, this nonfiction work is helpful and thought-provoking while still not going far enough in its theological or social exploration and evaluation of sexuality. The ideas that Gender Dysphoria is a result of the fall and as a biological dysfunction are introduced sufficiently. This would help most Christians view these occurrences more sympathetically and compassionately. However, the book does not give sufficient study of the Bible nor current society to be really hel Recommended by Ravi Zacharias, this nonfiction work is helpful and thought-provoking while still not going far enough in its theological or social exploration and evaluation of sexuality. The ideas that Gender Dysphoria is a result of the fall and as a biological dysfunction are introduced sufficiently. This would help most Christians view these occurrences more sympathetically and compassionately. However, the book does not give sufficient study of the Bible nor current society to be really helpful for practical matters, individually or in community. And there simply isn’t enough research or science, especially longevity studies, to build a real framework for the options available to those who struggle sexually. No coverage of homosexuality nor what constitutes a diagnosis of dysphoria. Nor is there any attempt at addressing the often clear, even hostile, destructive intent towards Christian sexuality in many who argue gender fluidity and sexual change. Useful but limited.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Christian Raab, OSB

    This book has a lot of merits. I found it helpful on many fronts and in many ways. The three models he proposes for navigating transgender issues (integrity, disability, and diversity) are extremely helpful for identifying the lenses people are actually using in thinking about this issue. It isn't a perfect book, and I cannot affirm every last thing in it, but it is a humble book, and that I liked very much. I'd recommend Ryan Anderson's When Harry Became Sally as a supplement to this book insof This book has a lot of merits. I found it helpful on many fronts and in many ways. The three models he proposes for navigating transgender issues (integrity, disability, and diversity) are extremely helpful for identifying the lenses people are actually using in thinking about this issue. It isn't a perfect book, and I cannot affirm every last thing in it, but it is a humble book, and that I liked very much. I'd recommend Ryan Anderson's When Harry Became Sally as a supplement to this book insofar as Anderson provides a more philosophically robust response to transgender ideology, what Yarhouse seems to mean by the "Strong Diversity Framework." I wouldn't recommend this book on its own, but in tandem with a work like Anderson's it could be very helpful to Christians and churches navigating the moment we live in.

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