‘Understanding Gender Dysphoria: navigating transgender issues in a changing culture‘, Dr Mark Yarhouse, IVP, 2015.
Mark Yarhouse’s latest book is not written at a popular level but is an incredibly valuable resource, both for the Christian whose family member who experiences transgender issues, and for the pastor. Although Mark rightly emphasises that gender dysphoria is not like same-sex attraction, as I read the book I could not help but notice how profoundly helpful it was for understanding what it is like for those who are sexual or gender minorities, those whose experience of their own sexuality or gender is not like what it is for those who are attracted to the opposite sex and whose birth-biological sex is congruous with their sense of gender identity.
Mark delves deep into the complex world of human identity, dispensing with simplistic answers, and forcing the reader to both take seriously how truly complex the world of transgender is, as well as to adopt an attitude of humility. Mark does this within a solid evangelical framework, taking seriously the biblical story and God’s creation of humans as men and women, but also taking seriously the practical and pastoral situations faced by those who wrestle with gender identity concerns, in particular, the medical condition of gender dysphoria. Mark carefully takes the reader through the scientific studies and theories on causation, as well as the various ways in which transgender issues present and their relative prevalences. He also outlines the various treatment options available, and offers thoughtful Christian reflection on all these matters.
Pastors will find particularly helpful Mark’s final two chapters, ‘Toward a Christian response at the level of the individual’, and ‘Toward a Christian response at the level of the institution’. This book is indeed a ‘tour de force’, (Stanton Jones), and ‘should be required reading for all church leadership’ (Andrew Marin) as the endorsements state on the cover! Comprehensive, biblical, compassionate, and thoughtful.
See below for Dr Yarhouse’s recent talk on pastoral care for transgender persons.
Watch an interview with Dr Yarhouse on the topic of transgender recorded during his recent visit to Sydney.
‘Transgender’, Vaughan Roberts, The Good Book Company, 2016
Vaughan Roberts has written a much shorter book on transgender which is primarily sociological and theological, rather than pastoral. In a mere 68 pages he includes a helpful historical survey, discussion of the current individualistic context, and definitions for a range of terms, but the bulk of the book looks at the reality of transgender from the perspective of the biblical trajectory of creation, fall, redemption (‘rescue’) and new creation.
The final chapter ‘Wisdom’ attempts brief responses to practical and pastoral questions; ‘how should we respond personally?’, ‘how should a church respond?’, ‘what should I do if my child talks about having transgender feelings?’, ‘what if a close family member or friend confides in us?’, ‘what about those less close to us?’, and ‘how do we respond to our culture?’ which refers specifically to UK equality legislation but which has parallels here in Australia.