He married, and fathered three daughters. He was a noted public speaker and campaigned for successful Senatorial and Congressional candidates. He owned and ran a California company, The Sunshine Group, with almost 500 employees, many of whom were Mormons.
As Kristi she transitioned in 1979. She was divorced by her wife, and fell in love with another trans woman, Liz Thomas, who was hired to be director of advertising for The Sunshine Group. Her ex-wife refused to let Kristi see the daughters, and the courts upheld this, and also assessed that Kristi should pay $25,000 a year in child support.
The Mormon Church formally excommunicated Kelly although she fought against this all the way. As part of the excommunication, the Church debated the issue of pre-born souls finding themselves in the wrong body. They held that, though the pre-born souls did have a gender before birth, their God did not make mistakes: “There is no such thing as a man in a woman’s body or a woman in a man’s body”.
Kelly was popular with the Mormon women who worked for her, and talked of founding a feminist branch of the Church.
A month after her excommunication, the corporate plane, that she was piloting, fatally crashed in northern California. As Mormon plane mechanics had worked on her plane, there are suspicions of assassination.
- Liz Thomas. “Kristi Independence Kelly”. www.transhistory.net/history/TH_Kristi_Doc1.html. Not currently available.
- Joy Shaffer. “The Unquiet Life and Death of Kristi Independence Kelly”. www.transhistory.net/history/TH_Kristi_Kelly.html. Not currently available.
- Connell O’Donovan. “’The Abominable and Detestable Crime Against Nature’: A Revised History of Homosexuality & Mormonism, 1840-1980”. In Brent Corcoran (ed) Multiply and Replenish: Mormon Essays on Sex and Family. Salt Lake City: Signature Books 1994. Expanded and revised version online at: http://connellodonovan.com/abom.html.
I have no more to add, and neither does O'Donovan, than Thomas and Shaffer wrote on Kay Brown's Transhistory site which was taken down a few years ago. However Kristi Kelly has otherwise disappeared from history, but should be remembered.