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Understanding Transgender Identities

Four Views

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One of the most pressing issues facing the evangelical church today involves dramatic shifts in our culture's perceptions regarding human sexuality. While homosexuality and same-sex marriage have been at the forefront, there is a new cultural awareness of sexual diversity and gender dysphoria. The transgender phenomenon has become a high-profile battleground issue in the culture wars.

This book offers a full-scale dialogue on transgender identities from across the Christian theological spectrum. It brings together contributors with expertise and platforms in the study of transgender identities to articulate and defend differing perspectives on this contested topic. After an introductory chapter surveys key historical moments and current issues, four views are presented by Owen Strachan, Mark A. Yarhouse and Julia Sadusky, Megan K. DeFranza, and Justin Sabia-Tanis. The authors respond to one another's views in a respectful manner, modeling thoughtful dialogue around a controversial theological issue. The book helps readers understand the spectrum of views among Christians and enables Christian communities to establish a context where conversations can safely be held.

Understanding Transgender Experiences and Identities: An Introduction    Paul Rhodes Eddy and James K. Beilby
Transgender Experiences and Identities: A History
Transgender Experiences and Identities Today: Some Issues and
Transgender Experiences and Identities in Christian Perspective
Introducing Our Conversation

1. Transition or Transformation? A Moral-Theological Exploration of Christianity and Gender Dysphoria    Owen Strachan
Response by Mark A. Yarhouse and Julia Sadusky
Response by Megan K. DeFranza
Response by Justin Sabia-Tanis
2. The Complexities of Gender Identity: Toward a More Nuanced Response to the Transgender Experience    Mark A. Yarhouse and Julia Sadusky
Response by Owen Strachan
Response by Megan K. DeFranza
Response by Justin Sabia-Tanis
3. Good News for Gender Minorities    Megan K. DeFranza
Response by Owen Strachan
Response by Mark A. Yarhouse and Julia Sadusky
Response by Justin Sabia-Tanis
4. Holy Creation, Wholly Creative: God's Intention for Gender Diversity    Justin Sabia-Tanis
Response by Owen Strachan
Response by Mark A. Yarhouse and Julia Sadusky
Response by Megan K. DeFranza


"Understanding Transgender Identities is a groundbreaking book that will support Christians in deepening their theological and biblical understanding and their reflections on pastoral care. The book's editors offer extensive definitions and arguments from natural and social science yet remain focused on how to best witness to God's love and serve Christ's purposes. The presence of four perspectives shows there is no simple for-and-against binary here; rather, Christian certainties, worries, concerns, and joys intersect and diverge across these four views. While this may frustrate those already solidly committed to a point of view, it may delight the intellectual and curious mind. The most grateful readers will be those sincere Christians who wish to love their transgender neighbors as themselves but are bewildered or uncertain about the linguistic, scientific, biblical, theological, and pastoral complexities associated with transgender identities. Understanding Transgender Identities will honor that sincerity while stretching readers to consider a broad range of information and viewpoints."

Jenell Paris, professor of anthropology, Messiah University

"Every Christian leader needs to think through questions related to transgender identities and experiences. Every Christian leader, therefore, needs to read this book and humbly and critically consider the various views. Paul Eddy and James Beilby have put together a thoughtful team of scholars addressing some of the most important ethical questions facing the church today."

Preston Sprinkle, president of the Center for Faith, Sexuality, and Gender

"As an outsider to Christianity and an insider to transgender experience and scholarship, I found this explicitly Christian exercise in 'understanding transgender identities' to be a provocative read. Although none of the authors reference the prophet Isaiah's invitation to come 'reason together' (Isa. 1:18) as an enactment of one's faith, this is precisely what most impresses me about the book--that authors with diametrically opposed views on the compatibility of Christian and transgender identities can argue respectfully about their radically divergent interpretations of the same foundational texts. At a time when transgender issues have become weaponized in the culture wars, this is an orientation toward dialogue and encounter that we would all do well to emulate."

Susan Stryker, founding coeditor of TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly

"This nuanced, authoritative book shows the diverse approaches to gender variance that Christians can hold with integrity. Scientifically, biblically, and theologically rigorous, Understanding Gender Identities confidently leads readers through a field too often fraught with misinformation. Readers who approach the book with a point of view about gender variance--and those who do not know what to make of it at all--will find themselves gently challenged. The authors model robust yet respectful disagreement, challenging and stirring one another. This is a book with love, compassion, and a deep yearning for truth and divine light at its heart."

Susannah Cornwall, senior lecturer in constructive theologies and director of EXCEPT (Exeter Centre for Ethics and Practical Theology), University of Exeter

The Authors

  1. James K. Beilby

    James K. Beilby

    James K. Beilby (PhD, Marquette University) is professor of systematic and philosophical theology at Bethel University in St. Paul, Minnesota. He has written or edited numerous books, including Thinking about Christian Apologetics. Beilby is...

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  2. Paul Rhodes Eddy

    Paul Rhodes Eddy

    Paul Rhodes Eddy (PhD, Marquette University) is professor of biblical and theological studies at Bethel University in St. Paul, Minnesota. He is the author, coauthor, or editor of a number of books, including Across the Spectrum. Eddy is the...

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