Stephanie Castle is a Canadian transgender woman and early advocate for the rights of transgender people, especially, for those incarcerated in the Canadian prison system. Author of numerous fiction and non-fiction books that address transgender subjects, Stephanie said that the driving force that kept her active mind always well oiled and her physical being moving was her writing activity, which she described as her occupational therapy. She treated her fictional writing as a late retirement project that paid handsome dividends in the form of endless satisfaction.
For Stephanie the study of human personalities provided endless fascination as it is from this very broad resource that her characterizations were drawn. She said, “You latch onto a personality that fits your plot and as you develop a mental picture of them and instinctively get inside the character, you tend to move with their mental attitudes, moods, emotions and passions. An interesting aspect for me is the feeling of a long standing friendship with my favourite characters and as the stories are mostly to do with a continuum of today’s life in and around Vancouver, Vancouver Island and the Okanagan district of BC, some supporting characters appear like old friends suitably revived for a new plot.” Thus Dr. Margaret Myers, a gender specialist appears in most of Stephanie’s fiction. Likewise the law office of Barnes, Ahrens, Macdonald & Naismith and the recovery camp for alcoholics and drug addicts at Camp Golden are highly repeatable props along with some of the characters that run them.
When this rich experience is coupled with a deep hands-on experience of being transsexual and living successfully with the condition that had been present for a lifetime, and acting as a counselor for at least ten years, Stephanie’s stories carry the stamp of authenticity in a literary field that most writers either ignore or are unqualified to write about. People who have suffered from gender dysphoria will usually say that it is something they would not wish on their worst enemy and for some, untreated and misunderstood, transsexualism can lead to suicide or at the very least a broken and disturbed life. On the other hand there are now a large number of transsexual people who have successfully transitioned and made new and happy lives for themselves, even though there is often a price to pay in the form of family dissent, workplace issues and a variety of problems that do not have to normally be confronted.
A phenomenon of this new century is the extent to which youth and young children have been confirmed as transsexuals and for whom a whole new regimen of treatment has had to be devised. Most genuine transsexuals are able to confirm that they remember when it started in childhood, but because of the constraints of the day – intolerance, abuse and punishment – few dared speak up about it. Now with modern communications, social networks, computer accessibility at a very early age, a better press and improved film and media treatment, better education and a new generation of doctors who are prepared and educated to serve the transgender population, a flood gate of information and understanding has opened up and people of every age are no longer as bashful as they used to be as recently as even ten years ago.
Margot Wilson is the proprietor of Castle Carrington Publishing, TransGender Publishing (the first Canadian publisher specializing in publishing transgender manuscripts and authors) and now Stephanie Castle Publications. A recently retired professor of Anthropology at the University of Victoria, Margot has previously undertaken anthropological research in rural villages, at a shelter for abandoned women and children and at the Danish-Bangladesh Leprosy Mission in Bangladesh.
Since 2014, Margot’s longstanding research interests in gender issues and personal narratives lead her to undertake life history research and story-telling in collaboration with elders in the Canadian and American transgender communities. One of those elders was Stephanie Castle who passed away in the spring of 2017. Shortly after Stephanie’s death and based on conversations between Margot and Stephanie during their almost 3 years of research together (see below), Margot assumed ownership of Stephanie Castle Publications (stephaniecastle.ca).
In 2018, Margot published the first in a series of life histories, Girl in the Dream: Stephanie (Sydney) Castle Heal, a Transgender Life, Stephanie’s life story. Also published in 2018 is a second edition of Feelings: A Transsexual’s Explanation of a Baffling Condition. Originally published in 1992, Feelings was Stephanie’s first non-fiction book on transgender issues. Other books by Stephanie include The Zenith Experience: Encounters and Memories in a Transgender Setting (non-fiction, currently out of print) and 9 fictional novels with transgender themes (see Currently Available and Out of Print).