23 November 2014

Buried In The Wrong Gender

Ask any transgender person what his or her greatest fears are in this life, and you will probably hear about being slandered, harrassed, beaten, fired or evicted--and of losing longtime relationships with family members, friends and colleagues-- simply for being who he or she is.  

I have experienced all of those things.  So have many other trans people.  I am fortunate in that I am alive to tell about them.

Which leads me to another great fear many trans people have:  What will be done with, or to, us in death.  Even if we have been stripped of all of your dignity when we are alive, we can be deprived of whatever is accorded to other people in death.  At least, that is what can happen in most states if we change our names, take hormones and live and work in the gender of our mind and spirits but, for whatever reasons, don't undergo the surgery that makes us members of that gender in the eyes of most people and the law of most places.

That is what happened to Idaho trans woman Jennifer Gable.  Last month, she suddenly died from an aneurysm.  That was shocking enough to those who loved her, but what happened next was even more stunning:  In her open casket, she was presented with short hair and in a suit, as a man. 

Her paid obituary gave her name as Geoffrey Charles Gable and mentioned the details of her birth, baptism, membership in a church, marriage (which ended in divorce) and work for Wells Fargo Bank.  There was not a word about the way, or the name under which, she lived the last few years of her life.  

As appalled as I am, I am not surprised:  Idaho is still one of four US states (Kansas, Ohio and Tennessee are the others) that will not change the gender on a person's birth certificate even if he or she has gender reassignment surgery.  Knowing that, I suppose it's a victory of sorts that her death certificate lists her as "Geoffrey AKA Jennifer Gable". 

No comments: