This post will contain two apologies. Here is the first: An anniversary slipped by me a few weeks back, an anniversary that needed a remembrance.
A wedding anniversary – to an extent.
Actually, the apology only relates to a wedding anniversary because the wedding occurred in such close proximity to the bride’s death, and it is only because of her death that I know anything at all about Terri Williams Moore.
The apology is not only to Terri but also to everyone who I’d intended to produce this post for by that anniversary.
Terri Williams married Richard Moore on May 14, 1976 in Denver, now a little over 35 years ago.
They honeymooned in Michigan, where Terri had lived prior to moving to Denver.
Only Richard made it back to Colorado alive.
On May 20, along I-80 in Iowa – somewhere between Walcott (now known primarily for the gaudy Iowa 80 truckstop, billed by its operators as the world’s largest; I suspect it actually isn’t, but why quibble?) and the Lynnville exit (known then and now for being adjacent to one of the rest areas on the rather boring journey between Iowa City and Des Moines) – Richard killed Terri. The pages above and immediately below are taken from a trashy ‘true crime’ magazine – Inside Detective – which ran a story about the murder in its September 1976 issue, while Richard was still awaiting trial on a charge of first degree murder.
For most people who come across Terri’s story, its this second image that really gets to them. It isn’t, of course, that there are no feelings about Terri but, rather, its the fact that this dog stuck by her even after her husband had disposed of her (a second of Terri’s dogs hadn’t survived, having either ventured away from the scene to be run over at the nearby rest area or having been dumped there initially.)
Do keep that concept in mind while reading this post – particularly when its content veers to states other than Iowa, Michigan, Colorado and Florida, the states that we know Terri’s life to have touched.
Also keep in mind that this next image is one that was not in Inside Detective, although I’m not sure why. The magazine’s photos of Terri’s body – with and without the doggy – were police crime scene photos and can stil be perused by those who might desire to venture to the Jasper County Courthouse in Newton, Iowa, to view the State v. Moore case file. The positive thing that one can say for Inside Detective is that there were some crime scene photos that were a bit more gruesome (not extremely, surprisingly, but still a bit more so than two of a not-obviously-dead-at-first-glance woman and her surviving dog) that the magazine didn’t use.
The negative thing that one can say for Inside Detective is that the magazine did not include this image – also part of the case file and, presumably, accessible to media in 1976:
That is (part of) Terri’s 1974 Colorado ID card (sorry, but I didn’t feel the need to show her SSN; as for the other hidden piece of info, read on…).
It shows her alive.
It shows her average.
It shows her normal.
I know, I know…the Baileys, the Blanchards, the Dregers, the Raymonds, the Dalys, the Greers, the Fouratts, the Brennans, the Vincents, et. al. make professional and/or political and/or personal hay by propagating the lie that transsexuals are not normal.
But we are – and deep down they all know it.
We simply can’t let our normal life stories be erased.
Now, the following aspect of Terri’s life may be a bit unusual compared to the lives of some – even of many or most transsexuals.
The person found shot to death near the Lynnville exit of Interstate Highway 80 Thursday morning has been identified as a possible police informant who testified as a prosecution witness in a Florida murder trial several years ago.
Warren Stumpp, assistant director of the Iowa Bureau of Criminal Investigation said the person was “legally and medically a female,” but had been born a male and undergone a sex change operation several years ago.
That was from the Des Moines Register‘s May 21 report on the murder (sorry, no link; one can find the DMR from that era online, but only in a for-pay database.) Yes, it mentions that she was transsexual – but it nevertheless recognized her as being a woman.
Beyond parroting the Register‘s remarks, the most that Inside Detective did to de-woman-ize her was fail to show her alive, average and normal. Yes, it included remarks from some law enforcement officials about the size of her feet and, in sanitized terms, her apparently still needing a bit of electrolysis.
Remember, though, these people being quoted were not big-city cops dealing with the victim of an urban anti-trans hate crime – and that victim was not someone who they knew up front was transsexual and who they were de-sexing for media enjoyment and with GLAAD’s de facto approval. They came upon Terri’s body in the middle of nowhere, initially knowing nothing about her and, upon ascertaining that she was a new bride (by virtue of the marriage license being near the body), even were wondering whether or not they might find her husband’s body somewhere nearby.
The cop chatter?
The very few total mentions in the press of Terri’s being transsexual?
(from the Feb. 14, 1977 issue of the Newton Daily News)
(from the Feb. 17, 1977 issue of the Newton Daily News)
All mechanical; all medical; all legitimate aspects of a murder investigation – and, none of it sensationalized (though I’m sure some of you will by now have noticed the line about Johnny Cash fom the 2/17/77 item. I have chopped out part of the article, but I have not otherwise doctored it. Richard was trying for an insanity defense – not trans panic per se, but flat out insanity. Having seen all of the court files, I’m not entirely sure that it wasn’t genuine. But, as with Jay and Silent Bob and Suzanne at the end of Mallrats, that’s a whole other story.)
Oh yes…There’s also the part of that Inside Detective piece which noted that Terri’s average, normal life had brought her into contact with some unsavory charaters.
Why should her life circumstances having brought her in contact with unsavory characters detract from who she was? In May of 1976 I was spending a considerable amount of time around two criminals: my father and my uncle.
I was 11 at the time; it took me a long time to get shed of both (one a double-digit DWI-er, wife-beater and unprosecuted murderer and the other a – surprisingly – never-convicted DWI-er but multiple-conviction felon, wife-beater and probably an unprosecuted murderer.) Perhaps if Terri had lived longer she’d have been able to remove unsavory-ness from her circle of acqaintences.
With or without it, though, she was a normal as any American adult – and arguably more useful than many.
Terri provided testimony that put several murderers away (though I haven’t been able to confirm it, I think that the Florida case that she testified in was Alvord v. State, 322 So.2d 533 (Fla. 1975), cert. den. 428 U.S. 923 (1976)).
But alas, there is the matter of the future killer that she married.
Of course, the fact that she married Richard Moore ultimately is probably the only reason that I know anything about her.
…which brings me to the second apology: To Terri.
In addition to the testimony at the murder trials, she’d inadvertently been part of a political battle in Michigan a few years before she died (her SRS had taken place at a public medical facility – at government expense – and a state legislator made an issue of it in a budget battle in Lansing), so my guess is that she wouldn’t be interested in being a part of the 21st century trans political wars (perhaps including the one regarding the word “transgender,” perhaps not.)
Yet, somehow, I think that she would be intrigued by what has transpired since May 20, 1976 – and the direction certain things have gone. (I’d like to think she’d be angry too, but I don’t feel as though I can make that conclusion – so, I’ll just leave it at “intrigued.”)
This comes from a recent issue of New York’s Gay City News:
In December 2009, when the Democrats had control of the State Senate by a 32-30 margin, marriage equality failed in a lopsided 38-24 vote. On the last evening of this year’s Senate session, with the Republicans in charge 32-30, the issue prevailed in a 33-29 vote, becoming law before midnight.
How did that happen?
First, marriage equality became — again — a bipartisan issue.
Like that GCN blurb, my appropriation of the title of Eddie Krell’s Inside Detective article for this post also refers to the New York gay elite’s screwing over of trans people by ensuring that their marriage wants trumped the needs of trans people to find and keep legitimate employment (though, for some strange reason, no gay publication will characterize it that honestly.)
That screwing over was the bookend to SONDA – which New York’s gay elite ramrodded through that state’s legislature in Dec. 2002.
That was a few months after the murder of Gwen Araujo
That murder took place in California, a state that at that time, also protected gays and lesbians from discrimination but left trans people out in the cold (a gay-manufactured legal aparthied that has yet to be rectified in New York but, in California, actually would be rectified by the time Gwen’s murderers went to trial.)
That is now; this is then: In 1977, a jury in rural, conservative Jasper County, Iowa convicted Richard Moore of first-degree murder (no hate-crime enhancement because there wasn’t such a thing then) in the death of his wife Terri, who happened to have a medical history that included transsexualism.
In 2005, a jury in Alameda County, California – across the bay from San Francisco – convicted Michael Magidson, Jose Antonio Merel, and Jason Cazares (no hate-crime enhancement because the prosecution didn’t want to go for it) in the death of Gwen Araujo.
How did that happen?
The key extract from this item which appeared in the March-April 1977 issue of Lesbian Tide?
Lest we forget: Janice Raymond did not act alone….
…and the acts continue.
Ironically, though, there is one aspect of that 1977 screed that withstands scrutiny.
In 1977, we actually were “chic” – legally at least.
Ditto for 1976.
At the time of Terri’s death, Iowa had a transsexual birth certificate statute – not yet in effect, but nevertheless with the Republican governor’s signature on it (it took effect on July 1, 1976.)
California? Nada – though it would follow suit in 1977 (presumably to the consternation of Frazer and Hermin), alongside the first California law specifically outlawing same-sex marriage.
Yes, I know…
That’s a part of history that 2011’s gay corporatists don’t want you to know about: In 1977 the same legislative body that unequivocally said no to gay marriage said yes to transsexuals (not all of the same people, of course, though there were plenty of individuals who did indeed say yes to the T and no to the gay – including a certain white man named Brown – a snark genuinely not intended to be racist in any way but simply to distinguish a certain non-white man named Brown who was in the legislature at the time and who was a bit more liberal than even the same-surnamed governor.)
That was 1977. (The fact that the same man who was governor there then is governor again is odd in its own right, but not actually relevant to this story; sadly, because she was no longer alive, the fact that Terri’s home state of Michigan recognized the reality of transsexualism in 1978 also is technically irrelevant to the story.)
I’ve never been able to pin down whether the comments from Iowa law enforcement which respected Terri’s womanhood had any connection to Iowa’s having legislatively recognized the reality of transsexualism, but I just find it hard to believe that there was no connection.
Be honest: In your heart, just as you know that if, instead of a pro-transsexual provision, the 2009 Texas Legislature had, under the radar, slipped in an anti-transsexual provision to a marriage statute it would be cited by all Texas courts as absolute proof that Texas law is anti-transsexual, you know that if Iowa had done in 1976 what Tennessee did in 1977 – turning the Model State Vital Statistics Act on its head to specifically write transsexuals out of it – that would be the link.
Writing people out by omission is no better.
Attention all of you newly-married New Yorkers who now not only have the ability to get married but also retain the right to discriminate against trans people: Writing us out of equality by omission is what New York did with its civil rights law in 2002.
As part of this post, I noted that there would be two apologies.
Doubly and unjustifiably civil-rights-enriched New Yorkers? Don’t hold your breath. If anything, you’re the ones who owe trans people apologies – and more.
I’m not holding my breath.
The second apology in this post is also to Terri Williams Moore.
I missed her birthday.
It was July 15th.
Yes, if Terri she was still alive, she’d now be 70.
(Putting things in perspective: My mom is still with us, and will be 80 this year.)
When Terri died, although there was no legal distinction between her and gays and lesbians insofar as anti-discrimination statutes in Iowa are concerned, the essentialness of her life, identity and marriage were impliedly recognized by Iowa law.
That’s not in any way saying that it was right for transsexuals to have been ahead of Gs and Ls or that there is some logical, organic reason that that is how it should have been- no one deserves to be excluded from the law – but it is a historical reality, one that today’s marriage derangement syndrome-addled Gs and Ls who already have their employment anti-discrimination cake and now want to eat a wedding cake instead of putting the ingredients for that cake into baking a trans anti-discrimination muffin (in New York and elsewhere) tend to sluff off as ‘them scummy trannies trying to steal Stonewall from us, not that Stonewall really matters anyway – who needs a parade with weirdos and I can always by my HRC-logo-emblazoned condoms online.’
And, today there is no legal distinction between Terri and gays and lesbians insofar as anti-discrimination statutes in Iowa – for, in 2007, when Iowa finally enacted a gay rights law it enacted a legitimate one: one that would have covered Terri if, hypothetically, she had not died in 1976 but had come back to Iowa and was on the short end of adverse non-criminal action specifically because she had a transsexual history. Ironically, had she not died and had stayed in Colorado, the same would be true – but only for anti-discrimination law.
Roughly halfway through the aforementioned three-decade period, Iowa enacted a law that conceivably could have had an effect on the prosecution of her murder. As noted above, in 1976, Iowa had no hate crime statute – but later it enacted one.
A gay-only one.
Iowa enacted its transsexual birth certificate statute in 1976 and its legitimate gay rights law in 2007.
It would be two more years after that before the state legalized same-sex marriage.
Now however, its time for a whiplash: Lets go back to 1976 – and lets not only ask a question about 1976 but lets try to answer it honestly.
If the spouse that Richard Moore killed had been a man – not simply a man in the eyes of Gay, Inc. and Trans-exterminationism, Inc., but a man who actually was a man – would the 1976 Iowa media have respected said victim in any way? What about the law enforcement establishemt? The jury?
I teach a class on trans history at the University of Iowa (an hour or so away from the site of the murder.) The Moore case – as well as all of Iowa’s trans legal history – plays a role in that course’s curriculum. A few years back, on a Monday following the week in which I’d dealt with the Moore murder and trial, one of my students came up to me after class and said that over the weekend he’d been back home to visit his parents – and he’d told them about all of that.
Sometimes my cynicism actually is off the mark.
It turns out that his parents already knew about the case.
His grandfather had served on the jury that convicted Richard Moore.
Moreover, what his parents relayed to him (via what his grandfather had had to say about it) echoed precisely what I’d found out when I had gone to Newton and encountered some people, still working at the courthouse, who had worked there in 1976-77: What that conservative community had found far more shocking than Terri’s birth-sex-designation was that the murder had taken place on the couple’s honeymoon.
However obnoxious the title of that Inside Detective piece might seem? I suggest giving it a pass. The placement of “Honeymoon” in it actually has significance. That was what people there were upset about, not the fact that a transsexual woman had dared to set foot in Jasper County.
However Jim Gilbert-ish that it may sound: In 1977 in Iowa, transsexuals not only were “chic” legally, but also socially.
I know, I know….
Saying it that way isn’t an accurate representation of the overall reality of America at the time.
However, the factual nugget adds to the making of an accurate image.
Purposely ignoring it, however, paints a maliciously false representation.
However, I assert that my use of “chic” is actually a bit more legitimate than the ‘you people didn’t show up until five minutes ago, so you should be happy with whatever civil rights crumbs that we deign to give you’ political orthodoxy that began to infect the civil rights movement in the years after Terri’s death – and which, as one of a near-infinite ist of examples, is obscenely reflected in the attitudes of people who are shocked that trans people would be upset that a centuty-old civil rights organization would have an ‘LGBT’ panel and not feel the need to have the ‘T’ represented on said panel by a ‘T.’
Now, some more time whiplash: In the timeline of Iowa and Terri Moore, lets head forward from the bicentennial year. Lets say, for sake of example, that her murder occurred in 1996 instead of 1976. All facts were the same – including a prosecutor willing to push for the maximum possible charge against Richard.
And, lets say that that prosecutor – being creative, as some prosecutors are wont to do – decides that, to get an enhancement under Iowa’s gay-only hate crimes law, he’ll assert that Terri wasn’t really a woman.
And since she wasn’t really a woman, she must have been a man.
And since she was ‘a man’ who had participated in a marriage ceremony with a man, she must have been a gay man.
And since she must have been a gay man, the Iowa gay-only hate crime statute is applicable.
Even if that prosecutor had had the purest of hearts – one completely devoid of HRC-esque transphobia – and was really, truly and genuinely believing that he was doing the right thing by throwing everything he could at the killer of a transsexual woman…
would Terri’s memory – not to mention her life – have really been served by such a creative legal erasure?
Trans activists with whom EDGE spoke earlier this week lauded the passage of this historic legislation as a significant step towards full equality for all New Yorkers.
“Marriage equality will be good for transgender people,” said Melissa Sklarz, director of the New York Trans Rights Organization. “It’ll bring the opportunity to get married to different families. It’ll make different families more visible and different options more visible.”
There is scant difference between the insanity of ‘New York gay marriage helps trans people’ and the logic of that hypothetical well-meaning, yet trans-erasive, prosecutor.
Other than the presence of sanity, of course.
Here are the realities of New York on July 24, 2011 that Gay, Inc., will not allow to be addressed in public:
- No New York same-sex marriage will do anything to alleviate discrimination against trans people in New York.
- Every half of every same-sex couple now getting married in New York state has the statutory right under New York law to discriminate at will against trans people, a right that they arrogated to themselves in 2002 under the implied promise that the next item on the agenda would be adding trans people to the state’s civil rights laws.
- No New York same-sex marriage will do anything for any non-coupled person of any sex in New York.
- There is nothing in New York statutory law that recognizes the legal status of transitioned transsexuals.
- No New York same-sex marriage will do anything for any non-coupled person of any sexual orientation in New York.
- Anyone claiming to be trans-something and claiming to benefit from New York same-sex marriage law will, in all liklihood, have to surrender any legal claim to a post-transition sex status to get such a marriage recognized federally or in many other states.
Ditto for Massachusetts and New Hampshire – with the exception that those two states actually do statutorily recognize gender transition….
Massachusetts since 1981.
You mean eight years before that state enacted anti-trans, civil rights apartheid, the same legislative body that enacted enacted anti-trans, civil rights apartheid said yes to the recognition of transsexualism while it was still laughing at the notion of sexual orientation civil rights?
Twenty-two years before that state moved on to – and blew right past – the notion of rectifying what the anti-trans, civil rights apartheid regime that the state had established in 1989.
…passage of the marriage equality bill actually bolsters GENDA’s chances in Albany.
We see how well that’s worked in Massachusetts, eh?
One of these is not like the others.