Lizzy & Annie by Casey Plett is an illustrated short story bound zine-style. It follows a romance between two trans women in New York City and it’s pretty much perfect.
When I heard about about the premise of Lizzy & Annie (trans lesbians story? trans lesbians of colour? written by a trans woman? with gorgeous watercolour illustrations??), I immediately had to pick it up. It’s only about 25 pages, but it is packed with so much. I had read Casey Plett’s story in The Collection (which also absolutely amazing and you should all read it), and this story definitely lives up to that as well as the premise. Most of all, this story felt so real. Lizzy and Annie, even though they’re given such a small amount of space to be described, feel like people I know. The dialogue is very natural, and issues that are brought up, of racism and sexism and transmisogyny, they all are incorporated in their everyday lives.
I think I realize why this story feels so real to me: because most mainstream media does not. Reading about straight cis white people who only ever interact with straight cis white people is a weird alternate reality that we are constantly submerged in. The way most stories tell it, trans people and people of colour and queer people either don’t exist, or only exist briefly in Very Special Episodes. Having the vast majority of media ignore reality is disconcerting, but you get used to it. It isn’t until I read a story like this that is really hits home what we’re missing out on. Lizzy and Annie talk like me and my friends do, and they talk about the things that we do. I can’t make any claim on the representation of trans women or trans women of colour in particular in this story, though, because I am cis and white. But even from that perspective, reading a story like this is a relief. It’s discussions of racism and hangovers and exes and weird dads and transmisogyny and BDSM and Facebook.
Even aside from the main characters, the people that populate the book feel like people I’ve met. And Lizzy & Annie also shows all the different ways that people can be supportive or oppressive. From outright harassment to supportive to theoretically supportive but clueless to fetishizing. Lizzy and Annie both deal with this completely differently, too.
This isn’t a plot-driven story. It just explores the dynamic between these two women and how it develops, as well as their everyday lives. But the characterization and writing is so strong that it will keep you flipping the pages. The illustrations are beautiful and evocative, as well. The only complaint I have about this story is that it makes me impatient. Impatient that there are so few of these stories being told, and that they aren’t getting a larger audience. Impatient that mainstream TV and movies and books are still set in the same bizarre privileged fantasy world when there is a huge plethora of people who don’t get to be main characters. Impatient for more from Topside Press and Casey Plett and other fantastic trans women authors. Luckily, that one I don’t have to be too impatient about, because Casey Plett is coming out with a new book, A Safe Girl To Love, within the month! I’m not sure if it’s a lesbian/bisexual book, so I’m not sure if it’ll be reviewed on the Lesbrary, but either way I’m excited to read it!
Definitely go buy Lizzy & Annie. It’s $5. You won’t regret it.