If you are thinking of transitioning but have yet to start the process you have probably spent some time looking for ‘trans stuff.’ Even in the internet age though, some folks look for the older, more obscure items – things that never found their way into searchable databases. (I have to do that – and luckily I enjoy it; I’m working on a doctorate in trans history.)
Yes, there are plenty of ways to access vintage mainstream news items about Christine Jorgensen, April Ashley, Renee Richards and many others. Less so for news coverage about the life – and death – of Terri Williams Moore.
May 20th marked the passage of forty years since she was murdered somewhere along Interstate 80 in Iowa – between Walcott (at the far western edge of the Quad Cities metro area) and the Lynnville exit, where her body was dumped along with her dogs, at least one of which was still alive at the time.
There is one well-known magazine article out there about Terri. If you’ve ever looked for ‘trans stuff,’ you’ve either seen references to it, seen scans of the article or perhaps even run across a physical copy of the magazine in which the article appeared. Copies surface on E-Bay from time to time. I found mine at a used bookstore in Minnesota several years ago.
If you’ve encountered it, you remember it – or, at the very least, you remember the title: Honeymoon Murder of the Transsexual Bride
Calling that ‘triggering’ would be an understatement.
It’s a title, subtitle and font size that only diseased spawn decanted during a black mass orgy involving Kris Jenner, Ray Blanchard, Mat Staver, Germaine Greer, and Franklin Graham could love. Yet calling the article following that title page transphobic actually would be a gross injustice.
The article appeared in the September 1976 edition of Inside Detective, the sort of trashy ‘true crime’ magazine that long ago ceded cultural ground to cable television garbage fare such as Nancy Grace and the never-ending stream of Lockup features that MSNBC pollutes its weekend late night hours with.
Authorship of the article is given to Eddie Krell. Maybe he was transphobic; maybe he wasn’t. I have no idea. Hell, I have no idea if that was even the person’s real name – or if ‘Eddie’ was even a ‘he’. I do find the name listed in the writing credits for a 1979 hack-n-slash movie titled Delirium. But beyond that? I actually know more about the subject(s) of the Inside Detective article than I do about Krell.
The article does include some terminology and phraseology that, if it appeared in the reportage of a trans murder today, probably would spark, if not outrage, then certainly some cringing. But keep in mind that it was 1976.
And also try to keep it all in perspective. If you ever have the opportunity to read the entirety of Krell’s article, please do so. I’m as quick as anyone to point the finger at transphobia when I see it, but I’ve read Honeymoon Murder of the Transsexual Bride many times and used it in trans history classes I’ve taught – and I don’t see any in that article.
There is an occasional male pronoun, but that is something that, like it or not, is unavoidable when stringing together a life narrative involving key events both post- and pre-transition. Krell wrote the article about – and referred to – a murdered, post-op transwoman.
That is significant because even now there is no certainty that the next trans woman who is unfortunate enough to have her life end in a manner similar to how Terri’s ended will be treated by the media with the dignity that Terri received from Inside Detective, from the local media and – from what I’ve been told by many who were there and a descendant of someone who was there – the locals of Newton, Iowa.
I know that many out there would prefer that nothing be mentioned of any trans person’s past when dealing with the person’s death. Whether right or wrong, let us just assume that that idealistic goal is not going to happen. With that assumption in mind, read the following: