BY MARY ANN MOORE
When the pandemic began in March 2020, Ivan Coyote sat down at a desk in a corner of their partner Sarah’s second bedroom in London, Ontario, to reread and answer letters which, in some cases, had arrived years earlier.
Letters take time for reflection, with a connection made between sender and receiver that can be heartfelt and profound. That is very much the case with the letters Coyote documents in Care Of: Letters, Connections, and Cures.
In a reply to Ace, who describes himself as “a binary transgender man,” Coyote says: “We are so much more than the outside of ourselves …. While the letters aren’t addressed to readers, their content will have an insightful and all-embracing effect, drawing people into a place where our stories meet.
Singer-songwriter Ferron initiates an exchange of letters and phone conversations regarding trans women that stemmed from “hateful comments” Ferron received following a post she made on Facebook.
“I know in my heart that trans women are my sisters, so they must be your sisters too, if you allow yourself to listen and hear where their stories run alongside both of ours, not over, or across, or against them,” Coyote writes.
Our stories running alongside one another is at the heart of this book. Regardless of whether a resolution was reached between Coyote and Ferron, it’s important that a dialogue was, and maybe still is ongoing. Other letters include those from the father of a transgender son, a cisgender female describing herself as “mostly closeted bisexual,” someone who shares Coyote’s birth name, and Niko
from Coyote’s hometown of Whitehorse in the Yukon.
Following a lengthy period of protecting ourselves, this book is about truth-telling and opening ourselves to one another. Writing letters, as evidenced in Care Of, allows writers to express what they believe in. For Ivan Coyote, the beliefs worth standing up for are about building a world “where each and every one of us is supported and encouraged to live up to our full and unabridged, unsqueezed, and untrampled human potential.”