Casey Plett wrote the short story collection A Safe Girl To Love and is the co-editor of the forthcoming anthology Meanwhile, Elsewhere: Science Fiction & Fantasy From Transgender Writers. She lives in Windsor, Ontario, and submitted the guest blog post below.
For like a good seven years through my high school and college years in Oregon, I was best friends and mutual close confidantes with a lady I’m gonna call Alice. We broke apart around the time I transitioned at 23, for unrelated, stupid reasons.
Last year, we made up and re-connected, both of us re-encountering each other as adults and very different humans. During one phone call, she said, “I have to tell you something I’ve always felt guilty about…”
One day, Alice and I were out in Portland and riding the MAX. I still called myself a boy back then and I wasn’t on hormones but I was in girl clothes all the time. Some guys on the train were pointing at me and laughing and calling me a fag etc. I just stood up and quietly told her hey, let’s move over here. She wordlessly and meekly followed me to the other end of the car and all was fine.
Or so I heard. I don’t remember this. Alice did. I’ve always felt so bad I didn’t say anything, she said. But I’d forgotten, I don’t think it even made it out of my short-term memory, it didn’t jog anything when Alice told me. In a certain sense, this is weird–I guess at that time in my life it was so common I just didn’t really register it as notable. Back then (and it wasn’t that damn long ago), I took every transphobic whatever that was not physical violence or the explicit threat thereof as solace, as luck that such threats or violence weren’t coming. I felt that way though (at the time) I had not experienced violence since middle school.
Two days ago, I heard Kellyanne Conway on CBC talking about how she hated feminism. (I tuned in midway through and thought she was Kellie Leitch, but I digress). She said:
“My mother didn’t feel sorry for herself, she was left with no child support, no alimony at a very young age, with a child to raise, a high school education and she just figured it out. She didn’t complain, she didn’t rely upon government, she relied upon her own skill set, her own self confidence, her own drive and moxie and her own duty to me and her and she relied upon her family and her faith.”
Her own skill set.
I think very much about the necessity for writers to draw from memory the things that aren’t being remembered, to resist our personal and cultural amnesias that flow graceful and sinister as wind. Troubles aren’t forgotten but the memories of troubles do get warped. That is always in the nature of things, but we tend to think we can trust our recollections of past difficulties. What I’m trying to say is: when I hear someone with the ear of evil like Kellyanne Conway make these claims of not relying on anybody and I wonder what she and her mom aren’t remembering, I too, as a writer, wonder what all I’m not remembering.
Casey Plett visits Brockton Writers Series on International Women’s Day, Wednesday, March 8, 2017, in our new home, Glad Day Bookshop, 499 Church St., Toronto, at 6:30pm (PWYC) alongside Kateri Akiwenzie-Damm, Manasi Nene, Giovanna Riccio and a special guest talk, “Breaking the Constraints of Form: There Are Many Ways to Tell a Story” by Teva Harrison!