Showing posts with label LGBTQ. Show all posts
Showing posts with label LGBTQ. Show all posts

Thursday, November 17, 2022

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 my 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

A House Divided

Available on Amazon


Please check out my website

   and see my books on   AMAZON       or  GOOGLE STORE

Also, consider connecting with me on    FACEBOOK   Geoff W. Sutton   

   TWITTER  @Geoff.W.Sutton    

You can read many published articles at no charge:

  Academia   Geoff W Sutton     ResearchGate   Geoffrey W Sutton

 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 be work. 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


Sunday, August 8, 2021

Pray Away [Conversion Therapy] A Review

  Pray Away


  Kristine Stolakis

  Jessica Devaney  

  Anya Rous

  Carla Gutierrez

Reviewed by

Geoffrey W. Sutton

Pray Away is a documentary film about the experience of American Evangelicals who identify as LGBTQ and conversion therapy. I watched the show last week on Netflix and I recommend the film to those interested in the topic.

One of the leads is a man named Jeffrey who identifies as ex-trans. He no longer identifies as trans as he says, “I lived transgender but I left it all to follow Jesus.”

The film tells part of the Exodus story. Exodus was a large Christian organization based in Orlando Florida. It began in 1976 and quickly expanded to help people who identified as gay or lesbian change their same-sex attraction. The process was called conversion therapy or reparative therapy. Exodus closed in 2013.

The film, Pray Away, tells the story of people who continued to struggle with same-sex attraction, which never went away. Despite the closing of Exodus, Christian groups continue to encourage LGBTQ people to change rather than accept or affirm an LGBTQ identity. The film focuses attention on the harm suffered by those who participated in these conversion efforts.

On their website, Kristine Stolakis expresses her goal:

“My ultimate goal is to tell the truth of the "pray the gay away" movement's enduring harm. I hope that  in a few years following the film’s release, a family member or struggling LGBTQ Christian searching for information on conversion therapy finds PRAY AWAY, learns about our subjects’ compelling stories, and finds their way to affirmation and self-acceptance.”

Randy Thomas was one of the Exodus leaders. A friend’s suicide caused him to evaluate what was going on with the movement. Here’s what he told npr last week:

"It crushed me to know that the ideology that we had both ascribed to, that we had both lived by, that I had been promoting, had killed my friend," Thomas told NPR. "This ideology was something that I promoted and was spreading around the world was actually destructive and deadly. It's a regret that I will carry with me for the rest of my life."

Some Thoughts

The filmmakers are open about their goals as noted above.  I appreciate the fact that there is no hidden agenda. They know about the pain so many experience. This harm continues to impact so many who experienced conversion therapy. Mental health organizations like the APA do not view same sex orientation as a mental disorder and recognize the distress experienced by people who are upset with their own sexual orientation or those of others. The APA also reminds clinicians that the research has not documented the use of psychological interventions to change sexual orientation.

The film mentions bisexuality but bisexuality does not get a lot of attention. We do not know how many people who report successful change are actually bisexual who learn to focus on and enjoy heterosexual relationships while inhibiting same-sex desire. Hypothetically, one may wonder to what extent it is easier to claim a successful change when sexual desire is bisexual rather than strongly homosexual.

The film does not address the longitudinal issues so important to wellbeing. That is, gender identity and sexual orientation change overtime. Same-sex marriage is still a recent phenomena as is increasing acceptance and affirmation of people identifying as other than a straight man or woman. Ongoing research should help us learn more.

What the film does do is remind viewers of the deep pain associated with changing gender identity and sexual orientation for large numbers of people who have sincerely tried to change. For every person involved in the change process, many others are negatively affected such as parents, partners, children, and friends.

The negative impact should not be minimized. Depression, anxiety, and suicide are serious concerns.

Finally, the filmmakers offer resources on their website. These include faith-based organizations:

Link to US National Suicide Hotline [1-800-273-8255]


Some Related Posts

Gay and Christian: Matthew Turner

Conversion Therapist Comes Out and Apologizes

Christian Apologizes to LGBTQ community

Sexual Orientation, Identity, & Attraction

Shocking Conversion Therapy LGBTQ+

Identities in Conflict: Sexual and Spiritual

How do Youth View Sexual Identity, Attraction, and Behavior?


A Christian Resource

A House Divided: Sex, Morality, and Christian Culture




Please check out my website

   and see my books on   AMAZON       or  GOOGLE STORE

Also, consider connecting with me on    FACEBOOK   Geoff W. Sutton    

   TWITTER  @Geoff.W.Sutton    

You can read many published articles at no charge:

  Academia   Geoff W Sutton     ResearchGate   Geoffrey W Sutton