Giselle Donnelly is a renowned national security expert, author and conservative think-tank scholar — and even though she’s 65 years old, she was “born” only this year. That’s because Giselle has just recently transitioned to living openly as a trans woman. She is now re-introducing herself to the Washington community she has been a part of her entire adult life.
Giselle came into the world as Thomas Donnelly, the name most of Washington’s foreign policy establishment has known her by over her long career in media, policy and politics. She has now “changed her name and crossed genders,” she told me in an interview.
The conservative national security community in Washington is not known for its enlightened thinking on gender identity. Yet, so far, Giselle said, she has received nothing but support from her bosses at the American Enterprise Institute, where she works as a resident fellow in defense and security studies.
A turning point came five years ago, when, a few months after separating from her first wife, Giselle met a photographer and makeup artist named Elizabeth Taylor. A former naval nuclear instructor, Taylor opened up a beauty shop in Washington called Makeovers that helps trans women find their style. The shop became an important node in a small but growing trans community in D.C., and was featured by the Washington Post in 2015.
Giselle and Beth shared a love of national security, wine, gender fluidity and BDSM.
When one visits the biography of Thomas Donnelly on American Enterprise Institute's (AEI) website, it notes that Thomas "transitioned in October 2018" and has a link to Giselle Donnelly's current bio.