A Safe Girl to Love by Casey Plett is a short story collection that focuses on trans female characters. It is an own voices anthology that I first heard about on Casey the Canadian Lesbrarian’s website (which is always pure gold).
Eleven unique short stories that stretch from a rural Canadian Mennonite town to a hipster gay bar in Brooklyn, featuring young trans women stumbling through loss, sex, harassment, and love.
These stories, shiny with whiskey and prairie sunsets, rattling subways and neglected cats, show growing up as a trans girl can be charming, funny, frustrating, or sad, but never will it be predictable.
I think I’m going to make it my mission to read as many LGBT+ short story collections as possible. And starting off with A Safe Girl to Love was a brilliant idea. I will admit however – the stories in A Safe Girl to Love aren’t exactly uplifting. (There are trigger warnings for alcoholism, drug use, transmisogynistic comments, attempted suicide, and body dysmorphia). However, they represent all aspects of trans women’s experiences, and are superbly subtle and honest. Some of my favourite short stories in the collection included: Twenty Hot Tips to Shopping Success (a story about a young trans girl going shopping for skirts for the first time) Portland Oregon (which features an escort and her talking cat), and Not Bleak (where people are not quite as they seem).
Real Equality (A Manifesto) was also particularly interesting – it is a speech by a cis woman about transmisogyny, and how ‘true’ equality would only come if there were fewer queer spaces. For example:
I thought this was a very clever way of telling cis readers to stay in their own lane. The only story from a cis point-of-view, the hypocrisy of this queer cis speech starkly contrasts to the honesty that can be found throughout the rest of the collection.
Unusually for a short story collection, I thought that every single story held its own. Although there were obviously stories I liked more, there weren’t any that I disliked at all. And although every story is about trans experiences and most of them have trans female protagonists, they are all extremely different. Some of the protagonists are just coming to terms with their gender, whilst some transitioned years ago. Some pass easily, whilst others do not.
I would absolutely recommend A Safe Girl to Love. I can’t wait to see what Casey Plett writes next!