Childhood Transition

Childhood Transition

This article originally appeared as a guest blog on Dr. Kelley Winters blog http://gidreform.wordpress.com/  As “A Response to Dr. Jack Drescher and the NY Times About Childhood Transition: Part 5 by Mary van Balen

The New York Times publication of Dr. Jack Drescher’s letter in its July 30 print edition under the headline: Sunday Dialogue: Our Notions of Gender, has generated much response in the paper, on websites, and on blogs, including this one. I have followed the conversation, appreciated the clinical expertise, and would like to add my perspective. I am the mother of a transsexual daughter, now an adult, who lived for twenty-five years with her “secret” telling me only when she had to choose between suicide or finally accepting herself as she was.

We spent hours in the family room as she summoned the courage to speak the truth she had known for so long but had kept hidden: “I hate my body. I always have. Do you know what gender dysphoria is? Well, that’s what I have.”

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Mother Katharine Drexel for Encyclopedia

Mother Katharine Drexel for Encyclopedia

Mary was asked to write the history of Mother Katharine Drexel for the Encyclopedia of Catholic Social Thought, Social Science, and Social Policy. Below is her contribution to the book.

DREXEL, MOTHER KATHARINE (1858-1955)

An heiress who gave her life and fortune to found the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, an order dedicated to serving Native Americans and African Americans, Katharine Drexel was driven by her love of God, the Eucharist, and the poor to establish schools and chapels across the United States, from reservations in the West to ghettos in New York City to backwater towns of Louisiana.

Katharine was born on November 26, 1858, the second daughter of wealthy Philadelphia banker, Francis A. Drexel, and Hannah Langstroth, who died five weeks after giving birth. In 1860 Katharine’s father married Emma Bouvier, who became the mother of his third daughter. Both Francis and Emma were devout Catholics, and one cannot overestimate the influence family had upon the Drexel girls. They lived in a home filled with love and formed by faith. In her later years, when asked about family prayer in her childhood, Katharine said, “Prayer was like breathing.”

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