Or, Why My Writing Has Been Disrupted So Long
On the 17th of September, 2019, Jacquelyn LaRonde, a trans woman who had been accused of having sex with a minor, was finally acquitted, after a struggle that took two and a half years and took a brutally high toll on an innocent woman and quite a lot of other people.
Just to set the stage: Jackie is in her late forties. She has known she was a woman for as long as she could remember, but found little support. That took second place for some time to a disabling physical condition, several badly degenerating discs in her back (thanks to early efforts to be properly masculine and playing minor-league hockey, and a successful computer store that involved repeatedly moving huge old pre-flatscreen monitors, and being a passenger in a bad car accident). This has left her in increasingly severe chronic pain for well over a decade. Despite that, having finally transitioned so she could be her own true self, she was happier, and was finding ways to cope with the pain that allowed her to reduce, though not eliminate, the very strong painkillers that she’d been prescribed. She was active as vice-chair of the local Pride committee, and had found a part-time job at the local branch of the CMHA (Canadian Mental Health Association), among other things helping young trans people understand, offering them support and answering questions. Her honesty made her popular with them. She felt happy and productive, and there is nothing better for chronic pain and the depression that comes creeping in with it. That doesn’t mean that her pain was no longer there, because even the strongest pain meds only dull it, but it gave her a reason to get up in the morning and a way to distract herself from it. Being such an extrovert, it made her feel more energetic, being around people and getting involved as CMHA’s representative on several committees and working groups. When politics tore apart the Pride committee, she and I and the chairman Daryl managed to pull together a parade and an event in the park afterwards, and we did it in three weeks–and people needed it, it was just after the Orlando shootings. Life settled into a fairly comfortable state: two adult women, one physically disabled, one with severe anxiety and depression, sharing a two-bedroom apartment with three elderly rescued cats, supporting each other and each doing what the other couldn’t, with money often tight but usually not impossible.
On the first of February in 2017, the morning after Jackie had spoken publicly on behalf of CMHA at a LGBT film event, two Kingston police officers showed up at the door. Jackie and I were still having breakfast, after which she’d finish dressing and catch the bus to CMHA. She hadn’t even had her morning meds yet. Within minutes, with no explanation of what she was being arrested for, she’d been handcuffed and spirited away. I barely managed to stop them at the door with a drink and her morning meds, and to shove the bag with her prescriptions into the hands of one of the officers. Continue reading