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Pediatrician Discloses Sex Change, Desire to Change Back

October 12, 1989 GMT

SEDALIA, Mo. (AP) _ A respected pediatrician is causing a stir with the disclosure of sex change surgery to become a woman 11 years ago, and her desire to change back to a man.

″I was born male and I was raised male and I feel like that’s the way I’ll feel most contented,″ said Dr. Janis Ashley, one of Sedalia’s two practicing pediatricians.

Ashley, 38, has refused to talk to reporters after she disclosed in an interview published Tuesday in The Sedalia Democrat that she was a man until her 1978 sex change operation - and wanted to be a man once again.

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The disclosures surprised Ashley’s patients, but many have rallied around her. Some residents of Sedalia, a town of 21,000 people in central Missouri, are making fun of the physician.

″Some people are saying some really crude things, making jokes behind her back,″ said Asha Lees, whose twin, 10-month-old sons are Ashley’s patients.

″I figure she’s been through a lot of pain and I hope that Sedalia won’t run her out of town, that they’ll let her stay,″ Ms. Lees said.

Ashley apologized to the town and said she wanted to continue her practice in Sedalia.

″This topic has the potential to be a flare point. ... I’m sorry for that and for giving this town or any part of the community any unwanted notoriety,″ she said.

Ashley has a 4-year-old adopted son, Michael, and said he might be confused about her changing sexuality. She is taking male hormones and said she would not undergo reconstructive surgery right away.

″I tell Michael I am his mommy and I will always be his mommy, but I’m also his daddy,″ Ashley said. ″I am his mother, his parent - whatever you call it - (but) that emotional attachment will be the same.″

Ms. Lees said she sent Ashley flowers, a balloon and a card with her prayers after learning of the baby doctor’s background and plans. Ms. Lees said she wants Ashley to continue to care for her twins.

″I think she is an excellent doctor,″ Ms. Lees said. ″(A sex change) doesn’t bother me at all. Her thoughts will be the same whether she’s a male or a female.″

Ellen Cable, who heads the Sedalia PTA, said she also was not disturbed by Ashley’s disclosures.

″I’ve heard nothing but good things about her as a doctor, and I don’t think a sex change is going to make any difference,″ she said.

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Dr. Robert Stockwood, chief of staff at Sedalia’s Bothwell Regional Health Center, where Ashley occasionally tends patients, said her sexuality will not affect her status at the hospital as long as she continues to provide good medical care.

Ashley said she consulted a child psychologist on how to deal with questions, and any confusion of her son and young patients as she changes back to a man.

″I’m going to be direct and honest ... and answer their questions, and emphasize to them that I’m still the same and will still doctor them the same,″ she said. ″But, gradually, I will begin to look more like their daddy than their mommy.″

Ashley was married before deciding at age 25 to become a woman. The marriage ended in divorce.

A woman who answered the telephone Thursday at Ashley’s office and refused to give her name said said all calls from the media were being referred to Ashley’s Kansas City lawyer, Pat White. White was in court Thursday and did not return a reporter’s telephone call.