I met Rene Jax last week, and I’m lucky I did. Not many people could be full of good humor after a 24-hour cross-country plane/train/bus trip, but Rene was. That’s all the more remarkable considering that she was in town to talk about “gender identity.”

Not from any academic viewpoint, either: Rene is a transsexual, born male, who underwent “reassignment” surgery in 1990 after living as a woman for more than a decade. She has come to regret that decision, and she’s alarmed at how transsexuality has been “weaponized by the left.”

She has a message she’s willing to travel across the country to deliver. “The debate around sex changes is personal, because I am a transsexual. I literally have flesh and blood in this debate.” She has written about her experiences, but now she’s willing to travel to speak out. Why? “I’m here to be an advocate for our children.” When Rene sees puberty blockers being prescribed for kids, and when she sees teenagers seeking surgery to amputate healthy body parts, she can’t be quiet. She’s funny, and she doesn’t bludgeon anyone with words, but she means business.

Her trip to my corner of the country coincides with a bill in my state capital that would create “gender identity” as a protected class under civil rights law. This follows an executive decision, unilaterally imposed by the state’s Commissioner of Health and Human Services, to add “gender reassignment” to the list of covered services for adults and children alike under Medicaid. (The Commish made his decision effective July 1, a month before a public hearing on the change. He’d rather ask forgiveness than permission, and the governor seems to be indulging him.)

During Rene’s few days here – too few, I might add – she spoke to groups large and small. The largest event was a forum where she was on a panel with a therapist and an attorney, each offering stories and expertise about gender identity and its personal, cultural, and legal implications. All the speakers were excellent. Rene’s talk was the linchpin of the whole thing, though, in my humble opinion.

It takes nerve to talk about personal experience and regrets to a room full of strangers. I respect that. Rene broadened my outlook, and I respect that, too.

Here’s her 20-minute presentation from the forum.

Ellen Kolb is a writer and pro-life activist living in New Hampshire. She blogs at ellenkolb.com and Leaven for the Loaf. 

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A local cultural observation, just to break up the campaign coverage for a minute…

The Latin Mass can pack a room, and it ain’t all about nostalgia. (Or, as friend used to spell it, “naustalgia,” which I always took to mean the past making you sick.) One of the old ethnic churches in my New England city has just been re-opened after being shuttered for 15 years. Our bishop asked an order of priests dedicated to the Tridentine Mass to set up shop, and the order obliged. The first Sunday Mass was held recently, and it was an eye-opener.

First of all, the number of young families was staggering. They’re looking to the future. Talking with them after Mass was like a tonic.

The church was packed, people standing in the back, even 40 or so standing on the steps outside when the church filled up. It’s possible some were there for the novelty, or to see what a Latin Mass was like. There were a few folks who had been parishioners back in the days when it was “the Polish parish.” There were certainly some pre-Vatican II Catholics who wanted the liturgy of their youth. Most of the attendees, though, looked like they’d been born well after the mid-1960s.

Second, the bumper stickers out in the parking lot indicated a lot of politically-engaged people in attendance. There were humorous (not to say barbed) slogans and serious ones, many explicitly pro-life, few explicitly partisan, yet all designed to give a Democratic nominee the vapors.

So what?

I’ll tell you what this looks like to me: these people praying together are not cultural refugees. They’re not wringing their hands. They’re looking past the next election. They’re steeped less in tradition per se than in faith in God. And they’re bringing that faith with them as they raise their kids, go about their daily business, and prepare to vote.

If the Republican nominee prevails, these are people who will keep him on his toes. If the Democratic nominee prevails – and she won’t, if these folks have their way – these are people who have the makings of resistance, if not outright defiance. People who take their religious faith and their American citizenship seriously are a force to reckoned with, with or without a “win” in November. Let others talk (without a constitutional basis) about separation of church and state – just don’t expect separation of faith and daily life.

Am I giving too much credit to one event in one small city? Maybe. Still, there’s something about that church full of savvy young families that shook up my pessimism about the upcoming election. I needed the reality check.

As for the Mass itself, it was a revelation to me. I’m a post-Vatican II cradle Catholic. Let’s just say there seem to be riches I’ve yet to discover.

Ellen Kolb writes about the life issues at LeavenForTheLoaf.com. When she’s not writing, she’s hiking in New Hampshire. See her earlier posts for DaTechGuyBlog: Ethics and PP’s Campaign Cash, Putting a Know-Nothing in His Place, Ads Say the Darnedest Things, and Worried About the Court? Then Worry About the Senate. 

A note to readers: I’m still one of DaTechGuy’s Magnificent Prospects, striving to earn your thumbs-up. DTG will be judging the entries in Da Magnificent Tryouts by hits-per-post and hits to DaTipJar. If you hit DaTipJar after reading one of my posts, please mention my name so Da Boss knows I’m earning my keep – and thank you! (Look for a tip jar link at the right side of the page if it’s not visible below.)




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