The Gender Revolution: A Review

Andrew Bunt
Reviews 3 mins
Found in: Identity

Patricia Weerakoon with Robert Smith and Kamal Weerakoon, The Gender Revolution: A Biblical, Biological and Compassionate Response (Matthias Media, 2023)

Back in 2014, Time Magazine declared the arrival of ‘the transgender tipping point’.[1] Awareness of gender dysphoria was on the rise and there was a growing number of well-known trans-identifying people. The next year, Christian psychologist Mark Yarhouse published Understanding Gender Dysphoria, a book that helped Christians to understand the rare but real experience of gender dysphoria from both a theological and scientific-psychological perspective. It was a book for its time – instrumental in the early stages of the Christian conversation around transgender experiences.

Now, a decade later, the cultural and Christian situation is very different. The historically-rare experience of gender dysphoria has been co-opted to propagate various forms of gender ideology; unprecedented numbers of people – mostly teenage girls – are identifying as trans; and debate rages as to how best to help them.

I believe The Gender Revolution is that resource – it’s a book for our time.

In the Christian conversation, there has been some great work on the theology of gender and on theological and pastoral responses to trans-identifying adults. However, we have been missing the updated version of Understanding Gender Dysphoria – a resource rooted firmly in biblical truth and in a thorough knowledge of science and psychology that can equip us to engage well in the transgender conversation as it stands today. I believe The Gender Revolution is that resource – it’s a book for our time.

Patricia Weerakoon is a Christian medical doctor and academic specialising in sexual health. For this book she has joined with Robert Smith, a theologian and ethicist, and her son Kamal Weerakoon, a pastor and theological college lecturer. Together, they bring a wealth of expertise and experience that allows them to engage with a complex and multi-faceted topic.

The Gender Revolution helps readers understand gender in our cultural moment from a Christian perspective. The early chapters offer explanations and analysis of several key areas – gender ideology, identity formation, real-life experiences around gender, and the relevant biological truth. Subsequent chapters then explore sexuality in relation to gender identity, gendered behaviour, and practical responses to individual experiences and the wider cultural revolution.

The book has many strengths. There is an emphasis on the insights offered by modern knowledge of biology. This is something Patricia is well placed to offer in a way many other Christian authors have not been. There are sections which some may feel are a little over technical, but these shouldn’t put potential readers off. The authors also helpfully and rightly offer a strong pushcback to the unfounded and ultimately harmful claims of gender ideology, but also make it clear that our protest is to be against the ideology, and not against people. Another strength is the wisdom offered on practical responses to those impacted by gender related distress.

There are a few particular highlights. Chapter 6 offers an excellent science-informed Christian perspective on gender questioning and trans-identification among children and teens. Parents and those working with young people would be wise to read this chapter at least. The final chapter offers practical advice on a range of real-life scenarios. This is the sort of hands-on, practical wisdom that has been missing in the existing Christian literature and will be particularly helpful to pastors, youth leaders and parents. The authors offer an appendix on the controversial question of pronouns and new names. They handle the topic admirably – with clarity on their position but respect for Christians who have reached different conclusions while remaining within the bounds of orthodox beliefs on gender.

This is certainly the best Christian book available for parents of trans-identifying teens.

In so many ways, this is an excellent book. It is a bit light on theological engagement with transgender experience, but we already have an excellent treatment of that in Preston Sprinkle’s Embodied. If I had one other critique it would be that in trying to engage with large parts of the current cultural conversation on gender, it might be a bit overwhelming and unclear for those new to the topic. I would love to see an abridged version of the key contents distilled into a book aimed at parents. But for now, this is certainly the best Christian book available for parents of trans-identifying teens.

As we seek to live well and love well in the midst of a gender revolution, any Christian will benefit from reading this helpful book. And for those in pastoral ministry, for parents, and Christian medical professionals, this book should be required reading.

  1. Katy Steinmetz, ‘The Transgender Tipping Point’, Time.