The institute I direct at Regent University has a new resource out titled Gender Identity Journeys: A Workbook for Navigating Gender Dysphoria. We occasionally produce these workbooks–typically on sexual identity–and have one for learning practical coping skills, one to help a young adult find his or her path (in light of sexual identity questions or concerns), and one based upon a narrative understanding of sexual identity. This is our first on gender identity conflicts or what is commonly referred to as gender dysphoria.
The idea to create a workbook came from working with older adolescents and adults who experience gender dysphoria, as well as providing consultations to individuals, couples, families, and organizations. There is just very little out there, and much of what is available might not resonate with a Christian who is trying to sort through a range of complex considerations.
The classic example would be that of the person who feels she is a woman trapped in a man’s body. This is a rare phenomenon by all estimates. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (5th ed.) estimates that between 0.005% to 0.014% of adult males and 0.002 to 0.003% of adult females have gender dysphoria (though the actual figures are likely higher when you include children, adolescents and adults who experience less intense gender dysphoria and do not meet criteria for a formal diagnosis nor have been seen at a specialty clinic.
In any case, the workbook defines terms and provides a little background information. Then it covers issues that may come up with identity and labels. Then it moves toward steps in disclosing to others, identifying and expressing feelings, finding healthy ways to cope, and exploring matters of faith and religion. There is also a chapter on various pathways based on a vignette in which a person considers a range of options.
I should also add that I was grateful to have some remarkable reviewers. Among those who offered assistance, one is a male-to-female (MtF) transsexual (has undergone hormonal treatment and sex reassignment surgery). Another is a female-to-male (FtM) transgender person. Still another describes herself as gender queer. A fourth reviewer is gay. All of them are Christians. Needless to say, their feedback was extremely helpful in making the resource comprehensive, relevant, and practical.
It is the kind of resource I wish I had for some of the people I worked with previously, and, like many workbook resources, I think it captures several of the topics and concerns that would be covered in the course of meeting with someone who is navigating this terrain.