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Conservative D.C. think tank endorses policy expert’s gender ‘transition’

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WASHINGTON, D.C., October 15, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – As a resident fellow in defense and security studies at the right-leaning American Enterprise Institute (AEI), Thomas Donnelly was a stereotypical example of a conservative establishmentarian – until he decided to start living as a “woman” named “Giselle.”

The 65-year-old Donnelly, who has authored several books and scores of foreign policy articles for leading outlets such as The Weekly Standard, The National Interest, and the Hoover Institution, is a longtime expert on defense and military matters, with a background editing publications such as the Army Times and Armed Forces Journal and work including Lockheed Martin and the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission.

On Friday, the Washington Post ran a piece about Donnelly “re-introducing herself to the Washington community,” a story also told in an upcoming documentary called The Makeover.

Donnelly’s gender confusion stems from a “very young age,” the piece says, during which he hoped in vain to outgrow or be cured of it (studies show most gender-confused children do outgrow their confusion, whereas reinforcing it can exacerbate emotional harm). He adopted the name “Jizzelle La Creme” as a “part-time alter ego in a fetish setting,” but experienced a “turning point” five years ago, while separated from his first wife.

It was at that time he met Elizabeth Taylor, a former naval nuclear inspector, photographer, and makeup artist who runs a D.C. beauty shop for “transitioning” customers called Makeovers. They bonded over a common love for “national security, wine, gender fluidity and BDSM” (Bondage/Dominance/Sado-Masochism). They were married in 2017.

D.C.-based filmmakers Sarah Park and Jane Pittman followed them for two and a half years to document their relationship and Donnelly’s “transition,” with the finished movie set to premiere in November at the Alexandria Film Festival. The Post says he agreed to the film “to have a record of her journey so that her family can better understand down the line, even if they aren’t 100 percent on board right now.” Donnelly has two sons.

“‘The Makeover’ is a distinctly traditional love story set in a decidedly non-traditional milieu of shifting gender,” the documentary’s website claims. “This unlikely trio [Taylor plus Donnelly’s two identities] finds the courage to love and accept one another for who they truly are...as a man, a woman, and sometimes both.”

“I like naughty things, I like things that aren’t allowed, and that’s one of the reasons we work so well,” Taylor says. “I like her to be my girly-girl, but I also like that male kind of aspect, it’s just nice to not always feel like I’ve got to be like a butch woman or something.”

The film’s trailer quotes Donnelly as admitting the “whole thing is role-play to a certain degree,” and that “I’m not gonna transition.” But he reveals in the Post that he later changed his mind. “Instead of leading a secret, private life that’s separate from my other life, now they are back together again,” he said.

The Post adds that Donnelly has “well-formed views” on transgender issues, but he doesn’t intend to publicly advocate for them, is “disturbed by some of the more left-wing aspects of the trans political movement,” and remains opposed to government activity on the subject.

AEI, which focuses on other issues but has occasionally criticized trans activists, appears to wholeheartedly support “Giselle’s” new lifestyle.

President Arthur Brooks and Vice President for Foreign Policy Danielle Pletka told the Post they “are proud that she is part of the AEI family,” because his character and principles remain unchanged. His old Thomas Donnelly website profile contains his previously-published work, but otherwise links to a new Giselle Donnelly bio referring to the scholar as “she,” “her,” and “Ms.”

But while right-of-center Beltway circles are largely silent on the news, other conservatives see it as a new indicator of cultural decline.

“The real point of all this is to say this – Christians should not expect a safe harbor even within the conservative world,” The Resurgent’s Erick Erickson wrote. “As deviancy is normalized, normal will be defined as deviant. Pagan decadence will force out Christian modesty as abhorrent even among conservative institutions in the long term.”

At The American Conservative, Rod Dreher wrote that the story signifies the transgender revolution “entering its institutionalization phase, at least among the elites.”

“For one, ours is now a culture in which a predilection for kinky sex is no longer something that one keeps private, out of a sense of shame, or because one feared the judgment of others, but now just a quirky part of one’s identity,” he observed. “This is what happens when the masses read Fifty Shades Of Grey (125 million copies sold) and begin to think of kink as normative.”

“To be fair, it’s hard to imagine that Brooks and Pletka would have reacted otherwise,” Dreher added. “On the LGBT front, the culture war has been lost among elites, even conservative elites. This has been true on homosexuality for quite some time, but I didn’t expect it would come so soon on transgenderism. But here we are.”

“You cannot get more Establishment Conservative Washington than Arthur Brooks and Danielle Pletka,” he explained. “They are in the Inner Ring. And they ratify Thomas Donnelly having become Giselle Donnelly. You may think this is a wonderful thing, or you may think this is a terrible thing, or you may not know what to think at all. But you must recognize that this event happening at one of the top right-wing institutions in Washington is a very big thing indeed.”

Dreher noted that social and religious conservatives “are now officially at odds with the leadership of the conservative Inner Ring,” and warned, “You will find yourself marginalized — not openly, not at first, but it’s going to happen, and happen faster than you think.”

AEI is where now-Justice Brett Kavanaugh delivered a 2017 speech praising former Chief Justice William Rehnquist and his dissent in Roe v. Wade

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