Transgender Identity and Gender Transition: Resources

Transgender Identity and Gender Transition: Resources

This page highlights some key resources on transgender identity and gender transition, most (but not all) available online.

Last Updated on 3 March, 2021 by Andrew Goddard

The best overview of different perspectives is the presentations and conversations between Owen Strachan, Mark Yarhouse & Julia Sadusky, Megan de Franza, and Justin Sabia-Tanis in Eddy, Paul Rhodes (ed). Understanding Transgender Identities: Four Views. (Baker, 2019).

Christina Beardsley is a trans CofE priest (she tells some of her story in this interview) and leader within The Sibyls who has written extensively in this area including:

Helen Savage, a trans Anglican priest (some biography in this interview), wrote her Durham doctorate (2006) on “Changing Sex? Transsexuality and Christian Theology”. 

Christopher Dowd, “Transfaith: An Exploration of Gender In the Church From the Margins” is a doctoral thesis which, in addition to setting out his research method and reporting his interviews with various Christians, includes a literature review (Chpt 2) and a discussion of 13 pastoral insights (Chpt 5).

Susannah Cornwall has written widely on intersex (a number of resources here) and transgender including:

Preston Sprinkle’s Embodied: Transgender Identities, The Church & What the Bible Has To Say (David C. Cook, 2021) is probably the best single volume from a traditional conservative position drawing on his work with the Center for Faith, Sexuality and Gender which has many resources on this and other matters relating to sexuality.

Mark Yarhouse’s Understanding Gender Dysphoria: Navigating Transgender Issues in a Changing Culture (2015, IVP) is an accessible book-length study from an evangelical professor of psychology.  A presentation of his arguments can be watched here and another one here.  “Understanding the Transgender Phenomenon” is an article setting out his central themes and 3 frameworks.

Some Issues in Human Sexuality: A Guide to the Debate (2003, Church House Publishing) from the House of Bishops has a chapter devoted to transsexuality.

Oliver O’Donovan’s Grove booklet from 1982 (entitled “Transsexualism and Christian Marriage”) was also published in The Journal of Religious Ethics and was one of the first serious academic engagements with the subject.  It was reprinted by Grove Books in 2008 as “Transsexualism: Issues and Argument”.  Gerard Loughlin has critiqued his approach in “Being creature, becoming human: Contesting Oliver O’Donovan on transgender, identity and the body” (2018).

The Evangelical Alliance has recently produced Transformed: Understanding Transgender in a Changing Culture (2019) a publication with supporting videos.  It was strongly criticised by Mike Higton in 6 blog posts.  The author, Pete Lynas, is in discussion with Jenny-Anne Bishop in this Unbelievable? episode on “How should the church respond to transgender?”.  The EA’s earlier Transsexuality (2001, Paternoster Publishing) was one of the first major UK studies and its concluding affirmations and recommendations can be read here.  It was critiqued by David Horton (see below).

David Horton, Changing Channels?: Christian Response to the Transvestite and Transsexual (1993, Grove Books) is an early discussion based onpersonal, pastoral experience, and offering a slightly different understanding and response from that provided in the Grove booklet by Oliver O’Donovan.

Megan de Franza, author of a thesis on intersex (published as Sex Difference in Christian Theology) has written a number of blogs on trangender including interaction with Yarhouse’s work: Transgender 101 (for conservative Christians), Transgender 102 (practical advice for conservative Christians (a dialogue with Mark Yarhouse), Transgender 103 – Sex Stamped on the Body, Transgender 104 – Reconsidering the Scope of the Fall.     

David A. Jones, leading Roman Catholic ethicist has written a number of pieces on gender and gender transition including “Gender identity in Scripture: indissoluble marriage and exceptional eunuchs”, “Faithfully Transgender” (with Claire Jenkins), Book Review of two recent books from a conservative Christian perspective (Yarhouse and Anderson), “Gender Reassignment Surgery: A Catholic Bioethical Analysis” and “Truth in transition? Gender identity and Catholic anthropology”.

Duncan Dormor has argued for there being a growing acceptance of transgender people in Protestantism and has written on “Transgenderism and the Christian Church: An Overview” which was reported on in The Huffington Post, Church Times, and Premier (including short interview).

Ryan T. Anderson, a Catholic ethicist, has offered a conservative critique of transgender identity in his When Harry Became Sally: Responding to the Transgender Moment (Encounter, 2019).  His main arguments can be gained from his shorter article “Understanding and Responding to Our Transgender Moment” and “The Philosophical Contradictions of the Transgender Worldview” and from various presentations such as those here, here and interview here.

Vaughan Roberts has written (a more popular than academic level), a small book entitled Transgender (2016, The Good Book Company) offering a conservative evangelical critique.  His argument, based around a biblical theological framework, can be accessed from this talk (with other links to articles).

Andrew T. Walker, God and the Transgender Debate (Good Book Company, 2017) presents a conservative understanding of gender.  Some of its arguments can be gathered from the short films related to the book and from his article, “What’s in a Name? Why Christians Should Be Wary of the Word “Transgender”” and his defence of the conservative Nashville Statement on trangenderism.

Katherine Apostolacus offers a survey of trans readings of Scripture in “The Bible and the Transgender Christian: Mapping Transgender Hermeneutics in the 21st Century”, Journal of Bible Reception, 5.1 (2018), pp. 1-29.

R. Clucas, “Trans People and the Church of England: Disadvantage and Microaggressions”, Modern Believing, 58.4 (2017) looks at the realities within the CofE.

Christian Medical Fellowship has a short (6pp) guide with quite a lot of scientific and medical detail on “Gender Dysphoria” by Rick Thomas and Peter Saunders.

Martin Davie, an evangelical theologian, often blogs on trans issues from a conservative perspective including – “The House of Bishops and Transgender: 15 Wasted Years”, “Transgender reality and pastoral care”, “A Failure to take sex seriously: A response to GS Misc 1178”.

The Church of Scotland recently issued “Diverse Gender Identities and Pastoral Care”.  The more conservative Free Church of Scotland take a different approach in their 2018 Panel on Doctrine Report on Transgender.

The House of Bishops issued guidance on Welcoming Transgender People in December 2018.  This led to some controversy with critiques from the Church of England Evangelical Council and an open letter to the bishops.  It was also defended by those supportive of the guidance

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