Catherine Ryan Hyde Catherine Ryan Hyde is the author of more than 25 published and forthcoming books, including the bestselling When I found You, Pay It Forward, Don't Let Me Go, and Take Me With You.


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Both sides of a specific

Catherine Ryan Hyde

I wrote the first draft of the novel Jumpstart the World in 2003.

At the time I was writing it, I called Leslie, explained what I was working on, and asked for a specific permission.

I was writing a block of dialogue in which a fictional character made three references to real-life trans people and the prejudice they faced.  One was Leslie, the other was Marsha P. Johnson, the third was Brandon Teena. I wanted the character to briefly quote something Leslie described in a published book.  It's a thing that anyone who read Leslie's book could know, and would say.  I said that I knew I could do it, because, of course, anyone can say, "In ___ book, ___ says ___."  There's really no special permission process for that, within the bounds of Fair Usage.  But, I said to Leslie, because of the fact that we did know each other, I was asking permission anyway.

Leslie asked, "Is this book about my story, or about me?"

I said no, absolutely not.  That it wasn't even a trans person's story at all.  It was a story told from the point of view of a girl struggling to be an ally.  I said the trans character in it was unlike Leslie in every way possible.

Leslie said, "Okay, good," and then agreed to my using the quote.

I didn't.  I decided that whole scene belonged on the cutting room floor.  That this purely fictional work shouldn't even reference real individuals in any way.

Now, in "the post," Leslie says of me, "She also claims that because I have written and spoken publicly about my own oppressions and life’s struggles, my life is now public domain for her imagination."

See what happens with the truth?  How easily it can be twisted into something very different, even by someone who likely did not set out to purposely or consciously twist it?

This is why I say there are two sides to every story.  Each sentence, each specific of what was said about me, is a decision made about my motives by a single individual.  And that is never the whole truth.