-- See KATU's photo gallery for pix.
Summary: Leahnora Isaak was born 50 years ago as Bob Isaak. He was born without male genitalia, but received testosterone treatments growing up. Even so, he had questions about his gender identity beginning at the age of four, when he was attracted to dresses. Despite that, Isaak did go on to marry and have three daughters. But throughout the years, Isaak continued to feel that wearing male clothing was the wrong clothing for him. Finally, in the spring of 2013, Bob declared himself female. In May, the Isaaks divorced and Bob came from Ohio to Salt Lake City where he marched in the Salt Lake Pride parade and officially became Leahnora, changing her name and her sex. She now lives in Portland, Oregon. Leah has not revealed whether or not she's had gender reassignment surgery. A November 2012 post on Everyday Feminism describes the details behind gender reassignment surgery and transitioning in general; it's not for the faint-hearted.
The president of the Beaverton Oregon Stake, where her ward is located, is reportedly supportive of her, even meeting with fellow church members to help with Leahnora's transition. The stake president has also contacted the Office of the First Presidency regarding her gender status in the church. Currently, they are allowing her to attend Priesthood Meeting even though Leahnora is now a woman. But she wants the Church to formally recognize her as a woman so she can attend Relief Society, and says she's willing to give up the Priesthood. She claims the scriptures state that we are to be our authentic selves, and she insists that gender rather than sex is the eternal identity.
The LDS Church gave a statement to KUTV:
"Each person is a valued child of God and we are mindful of our brothers and sisters facing difficult issues. Church leaders counsel against elective transsexual operations and such procedures may be cause for Church discipline. In some instances, local church leaders may seek counsel from leaders at Church headquarters".
A rather perceptive comment posted on KATU reflects the dilemma. Although Isaak was born without male gentialia, the stories do not reveal why Isaak's parents decided to raise her as a male. Our understanding of this problem 50 years ago was much more limited:
moej 7 minutes ago;
it sounds like a mistake was made a long time ago when her parents decided to make her into a male when she really wasn't... terrible situation that she has had to live through her whole life.
Maxine Hanks identified one other member of the Church in a similar predicament back in the late 1980s, and disclosed how the Church handled it:
The arbitrariness of gender-based privilege in exercising priesthood is illustrated in one example from the late 1980s. A former missionary elder underwent medical tests and was discovered to possess the complete reproductive and sexual organs of a female beneath a superficial, non-functional male organ. She had surgery to restore femaleness. Her temple marriage was annulled. It was decided that her priesthood would not be revoked, but she was told she could not exercise it. It was also decided that the priesthood ordinances she performed on her mission, including several baptisms, confirmations, and blessings, would stand as valid ordinances. When she was presumed to be male, she was allowed to exercise priesthood. People accepted her authority, felt the spirit of God, and considered her administration of saving ordinances to be valid. Yet she had the reproductive organs of a woman, not a man.