Understanding Gender Dysphoria: Navigating Transgender Issues in a Changing Culture, By Mark A. Yarhouse alt

Understanding Gender Dysphoria

Navigating Transgender Issues in a Changing Culture

Christian Association for Psychological Studies Books

by Mark A. Yarhouse

Understanding Gender Dysphoria
  • Length: 191 pages
  • Published: May 22, 2015
  • Imprint: IVP Academic
  • Item Code: 9860
  • ISBN: 9780830898602

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Foreword Reviews' INDIEFAB Honorable Mention

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.

Christian Association for Psychological Studies (CAPS) Books explore how Christianity relates to mental health and behavioral sciences including psychology, counseling, social work, and marriage and family therapy in order to equip Christian clinicians to support the well-being of their clients.

"This work is a tour de force. With his unique combination of Christian evangelical theological sophistication, clinical sensitivity and compassion, and scientific acumen and mastery, Yarhouse establishes in this compelling book why he is the most important voice reflecting on the complex challenges of sexuality today."

Stanton L. Jones, provost and professor of psychology, Wheaton College

"Understanding Gender Dysphoria is a deeply practical and timely book. Many of the variables surrounding the transgender community are nuanced and intense, yet completely unknown to the evangelical world. Mark provides helpful working knowledge of key terms, concepts and relevant issues. And with humility and great care he directly addresses how individual Christians and the broader evangelical church can respond. Although this book is academic in nature, it should be required reading for all church leadership. This is my new go-to book for the Marin Foundation's work with evangelicals on the topic. Mark's research must be paid attention to."

Andrew Marin, author of Love Is an Orientation

"This book is a must-read for pastors, educators and those who want to engage the cultural discussion around human sexuality. Yarhouse is a first-rate scholar, educator and therapist who also loves Jesus and Scripture. He deeply cares for people and the church. His approach to this complex topic is not to tell the reader what to think, but to teach the reader, who then can wisely discern how to apply the information to their particular context. This book educates so that people can lead wisely, pastor compassionately and build community that lives out the great commandment to love God and others."

Shirley V. Hoogstra, president, Council for Christian Colleges Universities

"I deeply respect the work that Mark Yarhouse has done in this field and have benefited greatly from his thinking."

Bill Hybels, senior pastor, Willow Creek Community Church

"It's hard to keep up with current words and acronyms for sexuality and gender, much less understand what they really mean. Even more challenging is evaluating and engaging these issues from a Christian perspective. Thank God—literally and truly—for Dr. Mark Yarhouse! Yarhouse articulates a goal many Christians will quickly claim as their own: to rise above political and ideological battles to provide ministry, pastoral support and compassionate care to all persons. Yarhouse helps us begin to put this ideal into practice by explaining gender dysphoria, transgender, and gender normativity and non-normativity, based on stories, professional counseling experience and research, some conducted by him and his graduate students. He treats all persons equally, asking of us all, 'How does gender permeate our lives—and how should it?' His voice is clear and serious, his perspective well-informed and studious, and his heart pastoral and concerned for the well-being of individual persons, especially those who seek support and community within Christian churches. If you've wondered how Christians and churches can support people with gender dysphoria who are seeking a meaningful story, lifeway and community, read this book!"

Jenell Paris, professor of anthropology, Messiah College

"Speaking as a pastor to church leaders, I enthusiastically commend my friend Dr. Mark Yarhouse for his unflinching courage, heartfelt compassion, biblical loyalty and rigorous scholarship in addressing the painfully complex and controversial issue of gender dysphoria. This book is an exquisite gift of understanding that I believe is absolutely essential to the church's crafting of ministry to hurting people that reflects the grace and love of Jesus. Unwrap and use it as soon as possible!"

Andrew McQuitty, author of Notes from the Valley: A Spiritual Cancer Travelogue

"Mark Yarhouse has written yet another important contribution to the church's discussion about LGBTQ issues, this time focusing specifically on questions related to transgender people. This book is informed by studious attention to the Bible, sound theological reasoning and deep psychological wisdom, all of which is sifted through a compassionate heart that wants to see people experience the deep love of Christ. This book is a must read for any Christian who wants to think Christianly about what it means to be transgender. Mark's pastoral posture and commitment to biblical truth is a model for every evangelical Christian."

Preston M. Sprinkle, vice president, Eternity Bible College Boise extension

"Could the timing be better for a book to be released on the topic of gender dysphoria? Were you aware of this term a year ago and what it means? Whatever you knew or didn't know then, now you have an excellent resource in Mark Yarhouse's most recent work on the topic. He has written extensively on sexuality and gender, and in this book her offers a scholarly look at the issue of gender dysphoria. . . . From the first to the final page, Mark Yarhouse writes to inform, educate and challenge readers to be aware and sensitive to this demographic. . . . I cannot think of a more important time than the present to be gathering information on this topic, to help shape your position, refine it or perhaps change it. . . . Yarhouse has presented a thoughtful, scholarly work on this current cultural issue. I cannot stress strongly enough that this book should be read and available to every ministering person what has opportunity to work with people—the church!"

Kent Miller, YouthWorker Journal, November/December 2015

"Never losing touch with the human stories that underlie any scientific or clinical discussion of the issue of gender identity, Yarhouse (psychology, Regent Univ.) has written a timely, often trenchant account of the complex cultural and psychological terrain in which the issues of gender dysphoria and transgender circulate. . . . Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty and professionals; general readers."

M. Uebel, CHOICE, November 2015

"Mark Yarhouse's Understanding Gender Dysphoria: Navigating Transgender Issues in a Changing Culture is a book that has the potential to change the conversation surrounding transgender, genderqueer and gender non-conforming people and our role in the church. Mark writes from a fairly conservative evangelical perspective, but there is one critical difference between his approach and the approach I usually see from conservative writers: Mark has actually listened to trans people with a view to understanding, and his goal is to help churches provide pastoral care to a group that has traditionally been stigmatized and marginalized."

Melinda Selmys, Patheos, July 3, 2015

"Understanding Gender Dysphoria is a valuable work for those wishing to engage with transgender issues. It doesn't answer every question that might come up, but it does give readers the tools to come up with their own answers while doing so in a loving and Christian way."

J. W. Wartick, Always Have a Reason, July 29, 2015

"Mark Yarhouse is knowledgeable, instructive and compassionate. These attributes are helpful for those working through the topic of gender dysphoria and also to those of us who are new to this conversation. We may not all agree with his final suggestions, but it is worth taking the time to consider the content of this text."

Stephen T. Beers, Advance, Fall 2015

"Understanding Gender Dysphoria is a good introduction to a complex issue, approached through both scientific and theological lenses. . . . It would be an excellent reference for pastors and parents seeking to understand the complex decisions those with gender dysphoria must navigate."

Ty Grigg, Covenant Quarterly


1. Gender Identity, Gender Dysphoria and Appreciating Complexity
2. A Christian Perspective on Gender Dysphoria
3. What Causes Gender Dysphoria?
4. Phenomenology and Prevalence
5. Prevention and Treatment of Gender Dysphoria
6. Toward a Christian Response: At the Level of the Individual
7. Toward a Christian Response: At the Level of the Institution
Author Index
Subject Index


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Mark A. Yarhouse

Mark A. Yarhouse (PsyD, Wheaton College) is the Dr. Arthur P. Rech & Mrs. Jean May Rech Endowed Chair and professor of psychology at Wheaton College, where he directs the Sexual and Gender Identity (SGI) Institute. He is a licensed clinical psychologist and author or coauthor of several books, including Understanding Gender Dysphoria, Modern Psychopathologies, Understanding Sexual Identity, and Family Therapies.