Emerging Gender Identities

Understanding the Diverse Experiences of Today’s Youth

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"This inviting text provides a useful framework for Christians to use in approaching what can be difficult conversations around gender identity."--Publishers Weekly

This book offers a measured Christian response to the diverse gender identities that are being embraced by an increasing number of adolescents. Mark Yarhouse and Julia Sadusky offer an honest, scientifically informed, compassionate, and nuanced treatment for all readers who care about or work with gender-diverse youth: pastors, church leaders, parents, family members, youth workers, and counselors.

Yarhouse and Sadusky help readers distinguish between current mental health concerns, such as gender dysphoria, and the emerging gender identities that some young people turn to for a sense of identity and community. Based on the authors' significant clinical and ministry experience, this book casts a vision for practically engaging and ministering to teens navigating diverse gender-identity concerns. It also equips readers to critically engage gender theory based on a Christian view of sex and gender.


Part 1: Making Important Distinctions
1. The Transgender Experience and Emerging Gender Identities
2. How Language and Categories Shape Gender Identities
3. Controversies in Care
Part 2: Seeing the Person
4. Foundations for Relationship
5. Locating Your Area of Engagement
6. Locating the Person: A Relational-Narrative Approach
7. Engaging Youth: Looking beneath the Surface
8. Ministry Structures for Youth
9. Recovering a Hermeneutic of Christian Hope


"Julia and Mark have written a much-needed book about a beautiful and complex topic. Every page oozes with grace and wisdom. Mark and Julia not only have the academic credentials to speak into transgender-related issues, but they have also spent countless hours listening to and loving the very people they're writing about. They have helped us see that this topic is not just about issues; it's about people."

Preston Sprinkle, author of Embodied: Transgender Identities, the Church, and What the Bible Has to Say

"I am not overstating things when I say that this book is a page-turner. Why? It takes the important topic of gender identities and treats it with courage, truthfulness, and respect. Yarhouse and Sadusky anticipate readers' questions. They carefully explore the historical and theological implications of the questions. But they never forget that they are writing about people with real pain who are seeking to understand a reality in light of their desire to love Jesus and retain their faith. Not everyone is going to like this book. But Yarhouse and Sadusky's challenge is for men and women of faith who work with children, young adults, and others who are experiencing gender identity issues to seriously grapple with the complexities so that they--as parents, pastors, health-care practitioners, and educators--will be known as people who will tackle difficult problems in such a way that the people of God will feel beloved."

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

"Mark Yarhouse and Julia Sadusky unpack one of today's pressing issues: transgender and emerging gender identities. As Christian psychologists, they integrate Christian insight with accurate scientific knowledge, offering well-informed and up-to-date understandings of a rapidly changing dimension of society. Current political and cultural discourse offers little room for critical engagement, and Yarhouse and Sadusky courageously offer wisdom and advice. They challenge Christians to move beyond getting theology right, even asserting that correct theological knowledge doesn't always translate into knowing how to minister to persons with nonnormative gender identities. With many examples, they encourage Christians to accompany others, not simply instruct or admonish them from a distance. They invite the reader to renew their encounter with a merciful God, as part of developing ministry that incarnates God's love. This book will be a gift to pastors, youth pastors, parents, and friends of transgender and gender expansive individuals. I came away with my faith strengthened, more certain that I can entrust my loved ones to Christ and that I can continue to question, learn, and wonder about transgender and gender expansiveness. My only disappointment is that I've only read the book once, so far!"

Jenell Paris, professor of sociology and anthropology, Messiah College

"This book is a treasure that I have been awaiting for years. The many tensions and agendas that surround gender theories make it very hard to discern the truth through the forest of ideologies. And yet there are human beings in that forest, with an infinite dignity and a need for love and understanding. Drs. Yarhouse and Sadusky have worked hard to seek out the truth and to develop a compassionate approach to understanding and ministering in this very sensitive space. They provide a wealth of trustworthy information for us through their excellence in psychology based on their professional integrity, years of study, and substantial clinical experience. At the same time, they deliver this truth to us through hearts that have been shaped by the compassion of Jesus Christ, which they have internalized through their deep Christian faith. All this means that this book is a faithful guide for anyone who wants to navigate the tangled forest of emerging gender identities and find there the rays of sunshine that help us to see with the eyes of Christ."

Fr. Boniface Hicks, OSB, director of spiritual formation and director of the Institute for Ministry Formation, Saint Vincent Seminary

"Emerging Gender Identities is a welcome resource and much-needed tool for ministering to today's youth. I wish every youth pastor, children's pastor, senior pastor, student-ministry volunteer, and parent could read this book."

Caleb Kaltenbach, pastor and author of Messy Grace

"We are faced with a dizzying ongoing evolution in cultural understanding of and recommended responses to a kaleidoscope of emerging gender identities. This book offers richly informed and thoughtful Christian analysis of these phenomena, along with compassionate and challenging recommendations for ministry. Yarhouse and Sadusky have the breadth of knowledge and experience to challenge readers to move toward more theologically grounded and pragmatically effective engagement."

Stanton L. Jones, provost and professor emeritus, Wheaton College; coauthor of the God's Design for Sex family sex-education book series

"Yarhouse and Sadusky are unafraid of exploring the overlap of Christianity, psychology, and cultures, and equally unafraid of reaching out in peace. I admire such a version of Christianity. I believe that two key concepts--meeting in accompaniment and calling gender explorers beloved--would greatly help model Jesus Christ to our youth, their families, and our fellow believing adults. I have read every page of this book. I disagree with the authors' concept of suffering, but that is a minor point. I found myself nodding my head in agreement over and over. I greatly appreciated their breakdown of the theological positions (ultraconservative, orthodox, and liberal) and how these positions affect gestures toward those that carry gender-related questions. I endorse this book for ministers, parents, and gender-exploring youth."

Caryn LeMur, a male-to-female transsexual and a follower of the words and life of Jesus

The Authors

  1. Mark Yarhouse

    Mark Yarhouse

    Mark Yarhouse is the Dr. Arthur P. and Mrs. Jean May Rech Professor of Psychology at Wheaton College, where he also directs the Sexual & Gender Identity Institute. An award-winning teacher, psychologist, and researcher, Dr. Yarhouse has authored numerous...

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  2. Julia Sadusky
    Dara Houp, Psy.D.

    Julia Sadusky

    Julia Sadusky (PsyD, Regent University) works as a clinical psychologist in Denver, Colorado. She also serves as a youth and ministry educator, offering trainings and consultations on the intersection of sexuality, gender, and theology. Her research...

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"Christian psychologists Yarhouse (Understanding Gender Dysphoria) and Sadusky team up in this thorough guide for parents and other adults who work with gender-diverse Christian youth to help them understand the current landscape of gender diversity among young people from a cultural, clinical, and theological perspective. . . . This inviting text provides a useful framework for Christians to use in approaching what can be difficult conversations around gender identity."

Publishers Weekly



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