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07 May 2011

Shelley Ball (1953–) sex worker, inmate.

William Ross Ball was born in Chilliwack, British Columbia. He grew up in a life of violence, heroin addiction and prostitution. In 1977, as Shelley, she was working as a prostitute in Edmonton, Alberta.
"I wanted to be a woman since I was a kid, as far back as I can remember".
She stabbed a trick 17 times, was found guilty of murder, and sentenced to life imprisonment. Unusually, the judge also recommended a sex-change operation.  The chief of medical services for the federal corrections service approved the operation in that Ball would be molested in a male prison, and that the operation would likely decrease his violent tendencies.

This was the first such surgery for a convict in Canada, and is in marked contrast to how all other trans prisoners were treated until Synthia Kavanagh won her appeal in 2000.

Ball, who already had breasts, but was 6'2'' (1.88 m) and 162 lb. (73 kg) did time in three different male institutions, and had no trouble. "In Prince Albert (Saskatchewan), I think I went out with nine different guys while I was there. I had more husbands than Zsa Zsa Gabor."

Shelley had partial (no vaginoplasty) genital reassignment surgery in 1980 and was then transferred to Kingston Penitentiary for Women. She was treated badly by the other women inmates, and attempted suicide several times. However she had an affair with an inmate and decided, after a lifetime of having sex with men, that she was a lesbian.

Let out on a short pass she made an unauthorized trip to Vancouver to see her mother, but the mother was too drunk to recognize her, which prompted Shelley to go back on heroin. Both the trip and the heroin led to the parole board revoking her privileges, and her hoped-for release in 1990 did not happen. She was in the news again in 1998, still in Kingston Penitentiary, when she attempted to slash her own throat.

*Not the Canadian football player.
  • Peter O'Neil. "Sex-change operation proves less than blessing". The Vancouver Sun, Aug 5, 1989: B3.
  • Holly Horwood. "A female 'eunuch's' cry for help". The Province, Jan 29, 1995: A2.
  • "Inmate slashes throat". Kingston Whig Standard, Sep 29, 1998: 3.


  1. Anonymous3/1/24 11:37

    Who ever wrote this needs to check their facts. Ball was not in Kingston Pen in 98. She was out in bc at the women's jail that opened in Burnaby with a federal inmate transfer contract so federally sentenced BC female prisoners could be closer to families.

    1. Anonymous2/2/24 19:16

      True. I worked with this inmate in BC.


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