Tributes paid to ‘inspiring’ oldest conjoined twins who passed away in April – one was transgender

Lori and George Schappell

The world’s oldest conjoined twins, Lori and George Schappell, have died. George was transgender, and came out in 2007 after hiding his trans identity for many years: even from his sister.

Lori and George Schappell died in hospital on 7 April. They were born in 1961 in Pennsylvania with partially fused skulls and shared 30% of their brain. The twins were initially told they wouldn’t live past 30, but were 62 when they passed away.

George had spina bifida, a condition where the spinal cord does not develop properly in the womb, so he used a wheelchair which Lori pushed around. The twins had separate bedrooms, and alternated between them, so each twin could be in their own room at least half of the time.

George came out as trans in 2007, saying: “I have known from a very young age that I should have been a boy. I loved playing with trains and hated girly outfits. I kept my desire to change sex hidden – even from Lori – for many years.”

George’s gender transition made Lori and George the first conjoined same-sex twins to identify as different genders.

George enjoyed as successful career as a country singer, while Lori found success as a trophy-winning ten-pin bowler, arranging her work shifts and social schedule around her brother’s music gigs.

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George was asked whether they wished they had been separated in a 1997 documentary. He said: “Would we be separated? Absolutely not. My theory is – why fix what is not broken?”

Many people paid tribute to the pair, including talk show host Sally Jessy Raphael, who tweeted: “Just heard the sad news that conjoined twins Lori & George have passed away,” calling them an “inspiration.”

The Guinness Book of World Records also tweeted about Lori and George, saying: “Guinness World Records are saddened to learn of the passing of Lori and George Schappell, the world’s oldest conjoined twins.”

The twins are survived by their father, and six siblings.