Transgender woman presented at open-casket funeral dressed as man, friends say

TWIN FALLS, Idaho -- The funeral of a transgender woman in Twin Falls, Idaho, is gaining national attention.

At her open casket funeral in October, friends told KMVT-TV they were shocked to see her dressed as a man.

"There were other friends that were there. You could see the disbelief in everyone's eyes that this is what happened. She should have been buried as Jennifer, not Geoff," said friend Tiana Colesell.

Jennifer Gable died of a brain aneurysm on October 9. In recent years, she reached out to childhood friends who knew her as a former Twin Falls High School student, Geoff Gable.

"When she first got ahold of me in 2010 on Facebook, I was confused, who is Jennifer Gable? And then she started explaining, and then we started talking from there," said friend Naomi Sweatfield.

In Facebook posts, Jennifer expressed frustration with her transition to becoming a woman. Friends say at her funeral, Gable wasn't presented the way she would have liked.

"Very, very displeasing. I couldn't believe her family would have her changed into a man again. That isn't what she wanted, that isn't who she was," said Colesell.

"All the pictures I saw, she was always hair done, makeup, looking pretty," Sweatfield said.

Funeral director Mike Parke says he's receiving threatening e-mails from people who don't know the other side of the story. In an e-mail, he writes, "We dressed the individual in the clothing requested by the next of kin, called the Idaho State Department of Vital Statistics to verify how the death certificate should be legally filed. Due to the nature of the death, the individual's hair was cut at the hospital by surgical staff, not our firm."

He continues, "I feel horrible for this individual, and the torment she had to endure."

He also stated that he feels horrible for family saying, "Having to deal with the death of a loved one and being forced to make a decision on how to lay that person to rest."

As for Jennifer's friends, they say they hope the incident will serve as a lesson for the transgender community.

"This is more of awareness; It's important to have a will, she didn't have a will. People are who are they are and we don't need to be judging them," Colesell said.

As for Gable's family, an obituary makes no mention of "Jennifer," and shows a picture of a smiling young man.

"Geoffrey Charles Gable, 32, Boise, passed away suddenly on October 9, 2014 while at his job at Wells Fargo Bank.

"He was born in Twin Falls on January 27, 1982 to Anthony Clark Gable and Lori Ann Walton.

"Geoff and his brother, Steven, were raised from toddlers by their maternal grandparents, George and Joan Walton.

"He attended Morningside Elementary School, O'Leary Junior High and graduated from Twin Falls High School in the year 2000.

"He was married to Ann Arthurs in 2005 in Hawaii. They were later divorced.

"Geoff grew up as a member of the Twin Falls First Christian Church, where he was baptized in 1996.
He loved animals and his constant companion during the last decade of his life was his beloved little black Miniature Schnauzer, Mindy.

"Geoff attended Oregon State University on a Marine Scholarship for one year, the University of Idaho, the College of Southern Idaho, and Boise State University. Most of those years he pursued a major in music. Geoff played the piano, trombone, violin, and guitar. He played in jazz bands in junior high and high school. He had a nice tenor voice and was a member of Jive and Chamber Singers while in High School. He was also a member of the National Honor Society.

"Geoff loved baseball and was a catcher for many of his little league teams, as well as playing one baseball season in High School."

The obituary says Gable's mother died in 2001.

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