(from 7/7/00 Wall Street Journal, front page) This Woman in Missouri is a Man in Kansas

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Well, in any case she'll/he'll never have to worry about a law like the one in the thread ("Y'all Won't Believe This One...") I posted last night...

The Wall Street Journal, July 7, 2000

Double Bind: Woman in Missouri is a Man in Kansas, and Why

By Devon Spurgeon;

Staff Reporter of The Wall Street Journal

LEAVENWORTH, Kan. -- Eleven months after marrying J'Noel Ball, Marshall Gardiner died last year of a heart attack, leaving an estate worth $2.5 million and no will.

Typically, Kansas law would divide the estate evenly between a widow and any offspring. But in this case, Marshall Gardiner's only child, Joe Gardiner, hired a private investigator to check out his stepmother. The outcome was startling: Her Social Security number had been issued to a man. J'Noel Ball Gardiner had had a sex change.

Joe Gardiner sued, contesting the legality of his father's marriage, and the case could well establish a precedent for determining the validity of such unions. The issue is certain to come up again because sex-change operations in the U.S. are growing at a rate of about 10% annually, to about 5,000 last year, according to Nancy Cain, executive director of the International Foundation for Gender Education, in Boston.

On Jan. 20, a state court judge here sided with Joe Gardiner, issuing, in essence, a once-a-man-always-a-man ruling. But J'Noel Gardiner is appealing. Noting that Wisconsin, where she was born, had reissued her birth certificate to say she is female, she says it wouldn't make sense for her to be barred by law from marrying a man in Kansas and from marrying a woman in Wisconsin.

"Would the state of Kansas want me to marry another woman?" says Ms. Gardiner.

Only in Vermont and only since last week are same-sex civil unions legal. But while most states will issue and recognize new birth certificates reflecting a sex change, Kansas won't. So, Ms. Gardiner is legally a woman in Missouri, where she lives, but a man in Kansas, where she got married. Solving this interstate anomaly might take federal legislation, says Andrew Koppelman, a constitutional law specialist at Northwestern University Law School, in Chicago.

Over a period of decades, Mr. Gardiner had become well-known here as a two-term member of the Kansas House of Representatives, a friend of President Truman, and a successful stockbroker. For years, he and his first wife, Molly, wrote for the Leavenworth Times. It was her death, in 1984, that left Marshall vulnerable, says his son.

Until Mr. Gardiner died, nobody seems to have known that J'Noel Gardiner had ever been a man. Those in the dark included her colleagues and students at Park University in Parkville, Mo., near Kansas City, where she teaches finance in ana M.B.A. program. So Ms. Gardiner felt exposed, anxious and publicity-shy when the Kansas court issued its ruling that she still is a man. When a Kansas City Star reporter called her, according to the newspaper account, she said: "Why don't you go join 'The Jerry Springer Show'."

But once the news got out, Ms. Gardiner says, her colleagues at Park University were totally supportive, and that bolstered her determination to appeal the ruling. Now, she says, she won't give up until she and others in similar circumstances can travel the nation without being stopped at state lines.

This isn't how the man she once was aspired to make his mark. When he got his doctorate in finance from the University of Georgia in 1987, Jay Ball dreamed of academic glory. After winning a professorship at Northeastern University in Boston, he published such articles as "Using the Analytic Hierarchy Process in House Selection" in the Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics.

During her first five years as a woman, she says, she was a cautious dater, afraid to have a relationship with a man lest he learn about her past. Then, in 1998, she met Marshall Gardiner. He was 85 years old, she was 40. After their first date, she says, she knew "he was my soul mate."

She says a vital measure of the trust between them was that he was the first person outside her family whom she trusted to know about her past. She says she made the disclosure during a Scrabble game three months after they started dating. His reaction: He told her "I love you to the core." A month after that, he married her in a civil ceremony in Oskaloosa, Kan.

During the 11 months they lived together as husband and wife, Ms. Gardiner says, her life was "almost perfect." But that was shattered when he had a heart attack and died on a flight to Baltimore.

When word of his dad's death reached the Georgia home of Joe Gardiner, he was a bit suspicious. He had never met his father's bride, but he knew that she was young -- 13 years younger than he himself -- and he thought the relationship was odd. After all, J'Noel Ball knew from the oustet that Marshall Gardiner was relatively well-to-do. And after the marriage, Marshall Gardiner had bought a house for her on three acres near campus in Parkville and a Nissan Sports car to match his.

To watch closely the settlement of his father's estate, Joe Gardiner, a Web-page designer whose business is portable, packed it up and returned with his wife here to Leavenworth. His first meetings with Ms. Gardiner, at the funeral and otherwise, raised no suspicions, he says. He thought she was nice. Still, he didn't believe she deserved half his father's estate, so he hired an attorney, and the attorney hired a private eye. "I wasn't sure whether to believe it," says Joe of the news. "We had no idea that she had been a he." When confronted by his attorney, John F. Thompson, she made no effort to deny it, all agree.

Just as J'Noel Gardiner denies that money influenced her decision to marry Marshall Gardiner, Joe Gardiner says it had little to do with his effort to nullify the marriage. He says he doesn't believe his father ever knew he had married a former man. "He was a religious person," the son says -- and conservative. "He was born in 1912 and was concerned about his stature in the community." Of Ms. Gardiner, he says: "She took advantage of my father."

Tension is high between the two sides. Joe Gardiner offered a settlement Ms. Gardiner turned down.

If she doesn't prevail, she still has a job at Park. In a statement, Park University President Donald Breckon says, "Dr. J'Noel Ball Gardiner was hired by Park University summer 1997....Park faculty and administrative staff that interviewed her were not then aware of the gender issue, and did not become aware of it until it was raised in recent weeks during pending litigation. J'Noel was and is an excellent faculty member. Out of respect to her privacy, we will have no further comment on this matter."

-- eve (eve_rebekah@yahoo.com), July 07, 2000


Right. Now someone will probably suggest that couple will have to be genetically tested before they can marry.

-- (kb8um8@yahoo.com), July 07, 2000.

My work in the computing industry once involved some interaction with a woman who had had a sex-change operation. Her business card gave her title as "Conversion Specialist."

-- David L (bumpkin@dnet.net), July 07, 2000.

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