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Gender Identity & Faith—A Review


Gender Identity & Faith

Clinical Postures, Tools, and Case Studies

For Client-Centered Care



  Mark A. Yarhouse &

  Julia A.  Sadusky

Reviewed by

  Geoffrey W. Sutton

Gender Identity & Faith  is not for everyone. Yarhouse and Sadusky have written a guidebook for mental health professionals who need a resource to help patients and their families who are seeking assistance with two identity issues—gender identity and religious identity. The authors are not focused on changing gender identity. Instead, they provide readers with specific ideas to help their patients explore their perceived conflicts between gender and religious identity.

Although the authors use the words religious and conventionally religious, the book is focused on Christian patients who perceive a conflict between two salient components of their self-identity. Most Americans are religious and most Americans identify as Christian. It is generally known that some Christians are morally opposed to people seeking medical interventions to change their physical appearance to match their gender identity. This societal conflict is not likely to end soon. Thus, clinicians may expect to see patients seeking assistance in navigating these potential sources of conflict for years to come. Of course, it is not just the patients who require assistance. Fortunately, the authors offer suggestions to help clinicians work with family members.

Research note.


  "Three-quarters of U.S. Protestants believe gender is determined by sex at birth."

Early on, the authors present a three-part framework (three lenses) for understanding perceptions of gender identities: Integrity, Disability, and Diversity. Integrity refers to a religious perspective which includes the traditional teaching of distinctive male and female differences with sex-linked gender roles. The disability or departure lens views people experiencing a disconnect between their birth sex and their gender identity as a disability or departure from cultural norms. A diversity perspective accepts gender differences and rejects attempts to impose limits on people who identify their gender in nontraditional ways.

Gender Identity & Faith is divided into four parts. First, the authors provide an overview with examples of the two identity issues and make recommendations for assessment. Their approach is called GRIT—an initialism for Gender and Religious Identity Therapy. Part 2 focuses on children. Readers learn of the importance of patience and considerations approaching puberty, which include thinking about puberty blockers. The authors note the importance of providing the child patient and parents with a supportive structure (scaffolding).

Notable quote

It has been said that when young people “come out of the closet: as LGBTQ+, their parents “go in the closet.” (p. 29)


In Part 3, the authors focus on the treatment of adolescents and adults. This is a substantial section consisting of chapters 6-14. I think their elaboration on how to use narrative therapy has the potential to be helpful for many patients. Clinicians will find examples of scripts and storylines along with coping strategies. There are helpful questions and worksheets designed to foster exploration.

Notable quote

Late-onset cases can be particularly challenging because parents often have no point of reference for the gender-identity questions their teen is raising. This can lead to tremendous skepticism on the part of some parents about any claims of gender dysphoria. (p. 37)

The final part includes three case studies, which will enable readers to get a sense of how their approach may be helpful with different patients.


As a psychologist, I appreciate the authors reminder that a broad-based patient assessment should include such common conditions as depression and anxiety. And remember that a transgender person may experience depression or anxiety for reasons other than their gender identity. The authors also remind clinicians to be careful with the diagnosis of gender dysphoria. I also appreciate their kind and compassionate stance. Their empathy for their patients comes through—it really is a client-centered approach.

When reading any book, other ideas come to mind. One thought I had was the powerful struggles some Christians experience over various matters—including their gender identity or the gender identity of a child or relative. These spiritual struggles can be overwhelming at times and may be a primary treatment concern. Anxiety, anger, and depression may be associated with spiritual struggles. Clinicians may consider the value of narrative therapy in treating spiritual struggles as a separate but intersecting path in their life journey. Spiritual struggles may include inner conflicts as well as conflicts with clergy and congregants and such struggles may be associated with a variety of issues that do not include gender identity. Spiritual struggles may lead to a separation from their church or support network. Inner conflicts can lead to a loss of faith and a concomitant loss of an important component of self-identity. Similar to the advice of Yarhouse and Sadusky regarding patient exploration of gender identity, clinicians should also be alert to spiritual abuse, spiritual harassment, and microaggressions as they seek to create a safe place to explore their spiritual identity.

I recommend Gender Identity & Faith and consider it an important addition to a clinician’s reference shelf. I would expect it to be useful in programs preparing mental health providers.



Yarhouse, M.A. & Sadusky, J. A. (2022). Gender identity & faith: Clinical postures, tools, and case studies for client-centered care. Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity     On  AMAZON

     Cite this review

Sutton, G. W. (2022, November 17). Gender Identity & Faith—A Review. Interdisciplinary Journal of Book Reviews. Retrieved from Retrieved from



A Related Resource for Thinking about Sexuality, Morality, and Christian Cultures

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 Transgender Identity and Faith- Related Links

Clinicians, church leaders, and potential Christian psychotherapy patients may find it useful to understand the position of their Christian group, denomination, or their particular church regarding Transgender Identity and the treatment of Gender Dysphoria.

These links worked on the day of this post but there is no guarantee that they will work in the future.  Also, please consider that people and organizations change their statements from time to time.

Assemblies of God  2017 Transgenderism, Transsexuality, and Gender Identity

Catholic - 2017 The Pope's Address

Episcopal Church 2022  Church Endorses Transitions for Transgender Children 'at all Ages'

Focus on the Family 2018  Transgenderism - Our Position

Presbyterian USA  Standing with and celebrating Transgender and Nonbinary Youth

Southern Baptist 2014 Transgender Stance

United Methodist Church  LGBTQ Rights



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