Born into this world as Geoffrey Gable, transitioned to Jennifer Gable two years ago, and buried by family as Geoffrey Gable. Many trans* and ally people have expressed their anger that a trans* woman was presented in an open casket at her funeral with her hair cut short, dressed in a suit and tie, and presented as a male.
Gable was a customer service coordinator at Wells Fargo Bank in Boise, Idaho when she collapsed at work of a brain aneurysm and died.
The obituary used the name Geoffrey and the gender “he” and “his,” and no mention of Jennifer.
Meghan Stabler, a board member of the Human Rights Campaign and member of HRC’s National Business Council, expressed her shock for the lack of respect given to Gable’s body and identity.
“No mention of the woman she knew she was and had lived as for several years. Just erosion of her identity and an old photograph of how the father perceived her to be,” Stabler said. “She had done what she needed to do legally to be seen as her authentic self. Her father erased her identity either though ignorance or arrogance, but who knows what the parent was going through?”
Gable was raised by her grandparents and her mother died in 2001.
At a speech delivered at the Boise Transgender Day of Remembrance by Dianne Piggott, Gable’s treatment was called an erasure of self.
“A woman was recently buried in Pocatello. Her family chose to cut her hair, dress her up like a man and put up decade old pictures that showed a high school graduate who looked like a boy,” Piggott said, also noting a California trans* man was buried with a wig, someone else’s dress and poor makeup. “They were buried under names that no longer represented them, names that were not even their legal names, names that many of their friends had never heard. Names that were nothing but echoes.”
“Both of these people were transgender. Both of them had undergone life affirming transformations to become who they needed to be. Both of them had overcome obstacles to shape their existences into something that rewarded them and expressed who they were inside. And both of them were erased. They were nullified and ignored by the families that should have given them unconditional love. Their families got the last word and rewrote who they were. But both of them had friends and chosen family who honored them with respect and true love and celebrated their transformations. And that is good and beautiful,” Piggott continued.
On her online obituary guestbook, Lisa Becker wrote, “She was mutilated and disrespected by her family, and even her obituary is a desperate attempt to make her seem as masculine as possible. To her family — shame on you. I hope you know what you’ve done, and I hope you know how many people have now been given the opportunity to educate themselves on transgender rights and ending transphobia. I’m so saddened that it had to happen this way, but I pray that her family someday understands the terrible thing they’ve done, and that they understand that everyone has the inherent human right to be exactly who they are.”
Mike Parke of Magic Valley Funeral Home and Crematory in Twin Falls said Gable’s death certificate listed her as male.
“The death certificate says Geoffrey AKA Jennifer Gable,” Parke said Friday night. “The last few years she lived as Jennifer. They buried him as Geoff. A tormented situation for all those involved.”