Can you find something wrong with the above headline? I sure can. Please to be explaining to me why the fact that Christine Newton-John is a transgendered person is relevant to the fact that she brutally tortured/murdered her husband, James Mason. Here’s another headline (from Cleveland’s “Plain Dealer”):
“Transgender woman pleads guilty in husband’s death by excessive exercise”
Here is an excerpt from that article:
“Vallandingham underwent gender reassignment surgery in 1993 and changed his name to Chris Newton-John, in honor of his favorite singer, Olivia Newton-John, Stehlik said. “
Why is this relevant to the fact that Newton-John tortured her husband (age 73) to death by forcing him to do laps in a pool until he died of cardiac arrest? A videotape shows her husband tried to leave the pool 43 times but she would not allow him to do so. The New York Daily News article says, “…deputy became suspicious after Mason’s June 2 heart attack, recalling that he’d investigated previous allegations of abuse.”
Shouldn’t the focus of these articles be on how an abusive spouse cruelly tortured her elderly husband to death via exercise? After all, (if memory serves), you are more likely to be murdered by your significant other than any other person on the planet. The fact that Christine Newton-John was born a biological male and later had gender reassignment has nothing to do with any of this. However, this murder is not going to be framed as “Abusive Spouse Kills Elderly Husband.” It’s going to be framed as “Transgendered Person Murders Elderly Spouse” because this feeds into the right-wing idea that transgendered people are all mentally unbalanced weirdos. It feeds into their “look! see i was right! those transgendered folks are crazy AND violent to the elderly!!!”
Sadly, Mr. James Mason is surely not the only enfeebled person to be murdered by their spouse or guardian. The gender of Newton-John is irrelevant to the fact that she is apparently a malicious person who abused her husband for years and then finally killed him in a truly horrifying way. This is a story about domestic violence and elder abuse. It should not be a story about Newton-John’s past history as a male or her choice to have gender reassignment. I hate it when I read stories like this…where someone of an already unfairly maligned group does go and do something awful because it’s like a step back for the group as a whole. When your average straight Caucasian male goes out and murders someone, people don’t suddenly go “AUGH! Caucasian males are crazed killers! RUN!” What Newton-John did reinforces the beliefs of those who think that transgendered people (or homosexuals or asexuals or transvestites, etc) are already frightening or dangerous. The fact is is that transgendered people are much more likely to be assaulted or murdered than your average straight person but these are not the stories the mainstream, right-leaning media chooses to focus on. Stories like this:
Transgender Woman Beaten By Police and Threatened With Murder in Honduras
On Year Anniversary of 15-Year-Old Lawrence King’s Murder, GLSEN Calls on School Leaders to Act
What happened to James Mason is a case of an abusive spouse (who just happened to be a transgendered person, a blonde, a Caucasian and host of other things irrelevant to the case) who murdered her husband after years of abusing him. RIP James Mason.
Also, kudos to the Star Telegram which ran this simple and succinct article about the story:
Wife guilty of exercise death
OHIO — A woman has pleaded guilty to reckless homicide for exercising her 73-year-old husband to death in a swimming pool. Surveillance video showed Christine Newton-John, 41, pulling James Mason around the pool by his arms and legs, said Middlefield Police Chief Joseph Stehlik. The chief said he counted 43 times in which she prevented Mason from leaving the water. Mason had a heart attack June 2 after the extended swim session. An officer who had investigated previous complaints that Mason was being abused pursued the case.