Monday, August 15, 2011

The Strange Case Of Dr. Richard Sharpe

Transgender people have a rough enough time in our society as it is without being saddled with the egregious anti-role model of Dr. Richard Sharpe. Dr. Sharpe grew up working class in the declining industrial town of Shelton, Connecticut, where he was regularly punched out by both his machinist father and his boorish peers. He claimed to find relief from this abuse by dressing up as a girl - although I can't see how this would have worked as a refuge, except in a totally wigged out, multiple-personality-syndrome kind of way. In most cases, I think cross-dressing would get you pounded out even more. Almost miraculously, despite his social problems, serious quirks and unpropitious economic status, young Richard was able to win (and eventually to marry) a pretty, upper middle-class girl as his high-school sweetheart - and to obtain a medical degree from the University of Connecticut. Once he graduated, he took his bride up to Boston with him when he accepted a prestigious post-graduate assignment at Harvard Medical School. He did so well there that they made him a member of the faculty. So far, so good, you would think. An exemplary triumph over life's adversities! But wait - there's more...

Dr. Sharpe became a successful dermatologist, eventually starting his own business specializing in laser hair removal. He also began a line of skin-care products to augment his hair-removal outlets, accruing assets of more than $2 million. Meanwhile, his cross-dressing continued, as did his frequent rages and a flourishing alcohol problem. To many, the only outward evidence of his weirdness was that he "plucked his eyebrows and looked odd". The man had an obsession with skin - with having very smooth, hairless skin - that much was obvious. In this, he is reminiscent of John Michael Karr, the Jon-Benet Ramsey-obsessed pedophile who had his facial hair removed in preparation for a sex change. Sharpe also - as the pictures show - favored long, wavy hair, sporting it far longer than most of his fellow hippie-generation baby boomers would (or could). One might argue that his transgendered mindset contributed as much to his professional and business success as to the emotional disorders that destroyed his marriage and made him a murderer. He seems almost like a cross between a mad scientist and a cosmetician. You must take the good with the bad, as they say, but eventually the bad side of his "smooth skin" mania deranged him. His wife Karen, herself a nurse, may have been attracted to Sharpe originally by her own nurturing instincts, as surely he was more of a "wounded creature" than any sort of alpha male. But a weird sort of alpha male he did indeed become. Doctor! Millionaire! Harvard High Muckety-Muck! A tumorous sense of self-importance may have fueled his drunken rages, and Karen ultimately discovered that the sensitive boy in need of love had morphed into a tyrant. At which point, she took out a restraining order and filed for divorce.

Dr. Sharpe responded to his wife's rejection by puncturing her own skin with repeated shots from a .22 caliber rifle. There were "three witnesses" to the crime, and Sharpe had no chance of escaping conviction. Although a court-appointed psychiatrist found him to have numerous mental disorders - including depression, alcoholism, rage issues and PTSD among them - he was found guilty of murder. He hanged himself in his cell in 2009, using a noose made out of bedsheets. Too bad he didn't have any silk available.

Yet another unbalanced gifted person wreaking havoc on the university-infested landscape of Greater Boston

Richard Sharpe, Cross-Dressing Harvard Doctor Who Killed Wife, Found Hanged (Huffington Post)
Sharpe Takes The Stand In Murder Case (The Boston Channel)
Cross-Dressing Dermatologist Who Killed Wife Found Dead in Prison (Fox News)
Lifting The Veil (People Magazine)

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