There is a truly tragic tale unfolding out in Abilene this week.
Last Friday, Jan. 22, the Rev. Karen L. Johnson, pastor of Abilene’s Unity Church of Christianity, went to the home of one of her parishioners, Renata Antoinette Monet, to counsel Monet, who was going through the process to transition from male to female. Police say that when Johnson entered Monet’s mobile home that afternoon, Monet attacked her and stabbed her to death, and then committed suicide by hanging herself.
The bodies of both women were discovered Saturday morning by church members that had become concerned about their minister’s absence and went to Monet’s home looking for the two.
According to online reports by the Abilene Reporter News, Monet had a history of mental illness, and her writings posted online indicated she had been planning the attack for some time, even going so far in a posting last Nov. 25 as to “predict” her own death on Jan. 22, the one-year anniversary of the date her name change from Bobby Allen La’Loge to Renata Antoinette Monet became legal.
Vicky Rister, president of the Unity Church board, issued a statement on Monday saying church members are “grieving the loss of our beloved pastor, Rev. Karen Johnson and member Renata Monet,” and that the church is “deeply grieved by the news of any involvement by Ms. Monet.”
She said the church is establishing a scholarship in Johnson’s name to support people “through their journey of healing and restoration from life’s challenges,” and that the church believes “all people are created with sacred worth.”
But it’s obvious from press coverage of the murder/suicide, and from the comments posted to the Reporter News’ articles that a lot of people didn’t agree with Unity about the “sacred worth” of Monet, or any trans person, for that matter.
A Reporter News article posted Saturday noted that Monet had legally changed her name, but still used her former name, Bobby Allen La’Loge, and referred to her as “he.” And the headline on the story called Monet a “transvestite.” (I can’t find that posting on the newspaper’s Web site now, however. Apparently, the “transvestite” headline was later changed.)
There is a video of a APD press conference in which a police official uses Monet’s legal name but repeatedly refers to her with male pronouns, and many, many comments on the stories on the Reporter News site make it clear that posters see all trans people as mentally ill deviants likely to snap at any minute and start killing people. Here are a few examples:
“I don’t know if it was a pirate, a Confederate general, or a Satanist, I do know it was a liar, and a murderer.”
“There in no such thing as a transgendered person God made man and woman not the fruit loops that think that they are born one way but trapped in a body that is not them. This whole story sickens God.”
“If ‘Renata’ wanted to end ‘her’ existence, I wish ‘she’ had done so without taking someone else’s life.”
“Oh my! I just perused this person’s website. It is abhorrent. This was an evil, hateful, person who took the life of someone who was trying to help “it”. This “person” claimed to be a servant of Lucifer and “it” did his work, and is now I suppose intimately acquainted with him. I am so sorry for the family of the victim.”
“It’s just a good thing Renatta was not a true woman, because if “he/she/it” had been, she’d have won the worlds ugliest woman contest, hands down…. Anyone ever actually see her in her drag ? Jeezzzz….”
“The Rev. Cindi Love, who also counseled Monet, said, “I don’t think this was as much of a transgender issue as a serious, untreated mental disorder.” Really? What do you think “transgender” is? Why do we constantly try to seperate out abnormal behaviors? Seems to me they always serve as indicators as to something much more sinister going on.”
But I also want to point out that the Reporter News, as I said, replaced the “transvestite” headline and rewrote the original article so that it and subsequent coverage referred to Monet with female pronouns. And I have to point out, too, that there are a number of comments that point out the fallacy of lumping all trans people under the heading of mentally ill. So maybe there’s hope, but there’s still a lot of work to do.