Title: Understanding Gender Dysphoria:
Navigating Transgender Issues in a Changing Culture
Author: Mark A. Yarhouse
Genre: Psychiatry
Pages: 191
Rating: 3.5 of 5

As a Christian who trusts the Bible to be God’s inerrant self-revelation and “everything we need for a godly life” (2 Peter 1:3), my views on sexual morality are much narrower than society in general. However, I am frequently troubled by the disgust and animosity which many of my fellow Christians show toward those whose lifestyle falls “outside the boundaries” of what they believe to be morally right. The Bible talks about treating others as I want to be treated which includes showing compassion, gentleness, and respect toward those with whom I disagree. Part of doing that is trying to understand another person’s point of view even if I do not fully agree with them. Reading this book was an attempt to do that as a friend of my recently came out as transgender.

The author of this book is a psychiatrist who works primarily with people who are dealing with gender dysphoria (feeling that your gender does not match your physical sex). His approach is fairly objective, presenting gender dysphoria as viewed through three “frameworks” which he labels:

  • The integrity framework – a Christian worldview that sees gender dysphoria as compromising the integrity of the male/female distinction created by God
  • The disability framework – a clinical view that sees gender dysphoria as being a disorder with a physical / psychological cause
  • The diversity framework – a view that sees cross-gender identification as something that should be accepted and celebrated
    • Strong version – seeking the complete deconstruction of traditional gender and sexuality
    • Weak version – seeking to resolve the individual’s dysphoria by transitioning away from their birth/physical sex to their psychological/preferred gender

The author explores various theories of the causes of gender dysphoria (emphasizing that there is not currently enough data to know for sure), discusses different treatment approaches in children, teens, and adults (up to and including sex reassignment), and suggests how churches and Christians should navigate transgender issues and help transgender individuals. While I didn’t agree with all of his theological conclusions (and found his frequent repetition a bit irksome), this book was very helpful in understanding the complexity of the issue.

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One thought on “A Complex Issue

  1. A difficult issue indeed. One of my childhood best friends came out as bisexual and is seriously dating a transgender person. We’ve only talked briefly about it, but she walks a difficult road that I don’t feel terribly confident in trying to help her navigate…such topical books from a Christian perspective are both welcome and needed. This is not going away and should be considered and treated like any other complex human issue.

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