A woman in Canada only discovered her abusive husband was actually a woman after she fatally stabbed him and paramedics had to remove his clothing.
The incident occurred in 2003, but police decided not to press charges against Elizabeth Rudavsky (right) because of the extent of the abuse she suffered at the hands of Angelo Heddington—who starved her, whipped her with a horse crop, violated her with a metal pipe, and threatened to kill her and her family. As a result, Rudavsky suffered a collapsed lung and lost 70 pounds.
“We all come across terrible cases of abuse on children and on spouses but I’ve never in my career seen one as horrific in nature as this particular case,” said an officer covering the case.
Rudavsky tells the Discovery Channel, which devoted a recent episode of Fatal Vows to her story, that she had no idea her partner was female and using a prosthetic penis. He insisted on keeping the lights off during sex, and claimed his genitals had been burned by an ex-girlfriend.
Heddington, whose real name was Angela, first began posing as a man at age 14, and previously abused both male and female lovers in the past.
Is “posing as a man” really the best way to describe this? It’s a horrible story, yes, but shouldn’t we respect the fact that he WAS a man, albiet a transgender man?
I saw this episode, and this woman blatantly lied her ass off, even admitting at one point, “I suppose at some deep level I always knew he was a female.” And Elizabeth is so obviously a lesbian that it’s impossible to imagine her willingly marrying a man. I agree she shouldn’t have been charged with the crime, but it stretches reasonable credibility to think she never saw her “husband” without a shirt after years of marriage.
This post is such a missed opportunity. Instead using this story to raise awareness of the prevalence of domestic violence among LGBTQ people (both as victims and perpetrators) or to critique the blatant transphobia in the television segment, Queerty instead reinforces that appalling ignorance by painting the abuser’s gender as a deceit. “Really a woman”? “Posing as a man”? You’ve got to be kidding me.
I am so confused by the commenters here. Which is it then? Is it none of our business that a person born with physical female biological markers and DNA idenitifies and lives as a man or are we supposed to recognize transgendered people? Cause I don’t think we can recognize you as transgendered, if as is recounted in the story, someone goes out of their way to convince folks they were born with male physical female biological markers and DNA .
The observation above that the woman probably knew her partner was transgenered aside for a moment: Is there no difference in the eyes of the commenters between a person who realizes they are transgenered and lives their life as they see fit and someone who goes out of their way to deceive their own partner of the reality?
Stop seeing people’s reactions to this awful human being as anti trans when its anti-evil schmuck.
How does this post become another example of transphobia? As one comment notes, is there no difference between a trans person living life fully and openly and a person setting out to deceive a partner? I fully embrace and support trans-liberation. But we need to learn how to make cogent arguments in support and not find transphobia in every story. There’s nothing to respect about the perpetrator of such violence and deceit.
We can have a conversation about if/when folks ought to disclose their trans status, but that’s tangential. Why is this post transphobic? For false statements such as: “her abusive husband was actually a woman,” “Heddington, whose real name was Angela,” and “posing as a man.” The alleged abuser may have been a horrible human being, but that doesn’t change the fact that he was *actually* man, whose *real* name was Angelo, and who was apparently *posing* as a decent human being. I get the shock value of the woman apparently not realizing her husband was trans until after his death, but that really has nothing to do with story, and even if it did, the writer doesn’t have to use transphobic language to write about it. For what it’s worth, I am a survivor of domestic violence. I get how awful the man’s crimes were. But that doesn’t suddenly turn him into some kind of make-believe man. Using appropriate language is not about respecting the alleged abuser, it’s about respecting the fact that trans men are men and trans women are women. That being transgender is not an act of deception.
So there’s no difference between a mentally ill person who might not be transgenered but decides to pretend to be a man and an actual transgendered person? Do you not allow the possibility of that? You’re not allowing for that possibility is taking this story and injecting transphobia where it just isn’t present.
I supposed the old “I love Lucy’s” where she dressed as a man to sneak in the club, or the 1980s movies where high school girls dressed as boys for reasons other than being transgendeer were also really situations where I was missing the transphobia.
Honestly, this knee jerk reaction does a lot to hurt trans people.
Obviously there’s a difference. It just seems highly unlikely to me that the alleged abuser was “pretending” to be a man (since the age of 14). And even if we were entertaining that possibility, there’s still better, less-offensive language to be used. I say this as a journalist, a survivor, and a trans-identified person. But you’re welcome to disagree.
@ismenia: Sorry guys, but she was a woman and not a man.
She was just abusive and f**ked up human being that got exactly what she deserved. So, good riddance to her evil and wicked energy.
@Erin: I’m not at all supporting bad journalism or offensive language. And, I get some of what you’re saying. Where I see/hear transphobia (or homophobia or racism, etc.) I try my best to call it out. This particular example seems questionable, at best. Out of curiosity (and to hopefully understand your point better,) how about the following hypothetical?
A straight man cross-dresses and goes to a club frequented mostly by lesbians. He intends to deceive patrons and pulls it off. He takes a woman home with him and then commits acts of violence against her. In reporting this, shall we say a “trans-woman” picked up the victim or shall we say a “man posing as a woman” did it? Is it transphobic to say that the victim went home with the person only to later learn he was “actually a man?” I guess all of this depends heavily upon context, but it seems as though you’re suggesting the use of the phrase “actually a man” or “actually a woman” is necessarily transphobic. I would argue that the phrase may be appropriate — depending upon the context and underlying facts. i.e., that it is not necessarily transphobic. Your thoughts?
I guess this is where I need to be educated. If a person is living as right gender for them, what’s the point of self-labeling as “trans” or “trans-identified”?
It seems to be a case of having cake and eating it too, and a trap for folks. Do folks want to be considered the gender they want to live as, meaning the transformation is complete for them, or do they want to be knows as “trans-identified” forever. Doesn’t the latter, make doing the former very tricky for all? (In terms of knowing what terms to use and when a trans person would be offended.) It kind of strikes me as a case of having the cake and eating it too and often the reactions to non-trans folk trying to understand the “right” thing to say/do are so hostile, it’s hard to continue to be compassionate and supportive.
@Aidan8: I think that analogy is false because it relies on the man’s actions being a moment’s whim, while the story regards someone who was living full time in the opposite gender of the one they were assigned at birth for over 15 years. I think it’s pretty obvious that whatever else he was (a heinous, sick man, would be my opinion), he was trans. The problem here is that even though by all accounts he was a terrible person, the use of improper and inappropriate language regarding his gender does not hurt him or repay his misdeeds. It only serves to perpetuate canards about innocent trans people, that we are unstable, deceptive, and perverted. It’s really not my place to judge what kind of punishment he did deserve, but I get riled when the debate around him starts to hurt the vast majority of law-abiding, well-adjusted trans folk who are just trying to get on with our lives.
@Thedrdonna: Actually, I used that hypothetical on purpose. It points to the fact that context matters… that the language we use (here, in journalism) matters and is dependent upon context. So, there will be circumstances where it is not necessarily transphobic to use a phrase like “actually a man” or “posing as a man.” It is offensive/transphobic if it is used with no regard to the facts. I would never use that phrase if I were referring to you or any other trans identified person. I just want us to be smart about the arguments we make and factual when we call something/someone out as being transphobic (or homophobic, etc.) Peace.
@Aidan8: OK, that’s fair enough. If the context and the available evidence at the time would indicate one pronoun is more appropriate over the other, then that would really be the determinant. In your scenario, there’s no real indication that the man in question was a trans woman. If he claimed, afterward, that he was a trans woman, then that would be the point at which a real debate over how to refer to him or her would be appropriate. I think in this case, though, there really isn’t any evidence that this person wanted to be thought of as anything other than a man, so that’s reay the point at which “actually a woman” becomes an offensive phrasing.
“Heddington, whose real name was Angela” is either a fact or it’s not. Either Angela legally changed names to Angelo or didn’t. If not, then Angela was the “real” legal name.
And wouldn’t the same thing apply to legal gender? Presumably Canada allows those who have transitioned to have those documents changed, so wouldn’t it be accurate to say “posing as a male” if all official documents identified Angela/Angelo as female?
@Caliban: It really wouldn’t. Just as the government doesn’t determine whether two people love each other, only whether they’re married, so too the governmrnt’s documents don’t determine a person’s gender. Government involvement should be descriptive, rather than proscriptive.
@Thedrdonna: hogwash. the govt doesn’t determine it, but it does record it and if one doesnt take an effort to update the record, one shouldn’t have an expectation that everyone else will be on board. . With that logic I should be able to say I am now right handed even though I am not or blonde when my hair color was brown (before it all fell out when I was 20) and everyone should just honor that despite the physical evidence presented to them otherwise ? No effort on my part to match my hair or hand dominance to match the jargon I want to use? Hogwash.
@deltabadhand: Thank you for keeping it civil. My point is that there are many trans folk who don’t have the time, don’t have the money, don’t want the paper trail, don’t want the exposure, the list goes on. If I’d had blonde hair for 20 years, even though I’m naturally brunette, then one could reasonably say I’m blonde, regardless of my government issued ID. Insofar as there’s any information available, he presented as male for a loooong time. Insisting on calling him anything else is transphobic.
OMG! I can’t believe that they did an episode on this case…my mother dated Angelo when I was a child and we literally experienced the exact same stuff that Elizabeth did. I’m in total shock right now (and in tears) because I haven’t seen his face in so many years. I still have nightmares of the terror he put us through and I am shaking right now. My mother passed away last year, but if she were alive she would be happy to know that he will no longer be hurting anyone else. I hope that Elizabeth is doing well and I’m glad that she was able to move on with her life.
Angelo NEVER wanted to let anyone go willingly and the day we became free of him was only by the grace of God and police intervention.
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