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Plumcake’s Very Special Episode | Manolo for the Big Girl

Plumcake’s Very Special Episode

Miss Plumcake loves the gays. We all know that.  I go to their clubs, I march in their parades (Austin Pride June 5th, y’all!) I go to weddings with them if Aunt Titsy is too concerned about shocking the neighbors or messing up the boy-girl seating arrangements she’s had nailed down since Cousin Bettina’s first Communion. I am an A#1 certified Prom Date (I don’t spend this much time at the medspa to be called a hag) and I cherish that. I don’t even mind –in fact I relish– those few times when I’ve been confused with a drag queen.

Last Friday a gentleman caller and I were having The Talk.

You know, the talk where you decide Where This Is All Going blah blah blah. I hate that talk.  I hate most serious relationship-y conversations and frankly, part of the appeal of dating a Glaswegian was not having to deal with tedious relationship-wrecking things like emotions or expressed feelings.

Things were getting a little uncomfortable for me.

I’m clearly not into this guy as much as he’s into me (cute, but a non-starter in some really significant ways) so after he says The Big Thing he wanted to say, I –trying to lighten the mood– put on a big I’m a lumberjack face,  flexed my pretend muscles (because if I can’t be Judy Garland when I grow up, at least I can be Eric Idle) and said in a super-deep James Earl Jones voice  “Good, because I’m a man.”

He believed me! Apparently he’d dated a girl who was mid-transition once and didn’t tell him, and it set him off forever.

Birth certificate, baby pictures –complete with comments from my dad on Facebook– NOTHIN’.  And of course the more I denied it the “guiltier” I looked in his eyes. And the most infuriating part was he was trying to be The Sensitive Guy about it which made me even madder because I wanted to be the one to reject HIM. He’s the jerk who “forgot” to mention he had a girlfriend back in Glasgow before I dumped him the first time in January, I’m the catch with the immaculate rack. It’s the natural order of things!

Generally I don’t care what people believe about me as long as it doesn’t pertain to my character.

I know there were plenty of folks who thought Miss Plumcake was a group of gay men. Heck, even Francesca thought I was a strong black woman trying to “pass” as white Southern belle (yeah, I don’t know why either, but it was hi-larious when it all came out). So you know, whatever.  But it really threw me to have my gender questioned.

He said I was a very nice girl blah blah blah but he’s “only interested in women with wombs.”

Does a womb make a woman?

I’ve got one but I don’t plan on using it, another friend with a passel of gorgeous biological children (although they’re gross, because all children are gross…gross and moist) doesn’t have one anymore.  Does that make me more of a woman even though I’ve never done womanly things like push a shrieking, money-sucking demon the size of a toaster oven out of my Very Thing experience the joys of childbirth? Of course not.

Which brings me to the Very Special Episode portion of the blog.

Biologically I am a woman, but biology has precious little to do with it when I come to think about it. I am a woman in my soul, I live my life as a woman and deal with all the joys and pains (well except the childbirth pains…suckers!) that come with it. But so do my girls who weren’t born as biological women. They deal with all that and more, and even though I fight them for the only pair of size 42 Roberto Cavalli pumps with the gold serpent sculptural heels (and I am NOT afraid to bite) they are my sisters.

Last year in an oft-quoted interview with The Daily Beast I said:

““I’m fat, I have money. I’m more than willing to give it in quantity to the store who will supply me with beautifully made clothes that don’t make me look like a hooker, a tranny, or someone’s bingo-playing grandma from Duluth.”

I got lots of letters of outrage, and I replied to everyone who was reasonable saying I was an equal opportunity mocker and my history of civil rights work on behalf of the gay and transgendered community would stand for itself, which I am and which it does.

However.

The first rule of Plumcake Fight Club is you don’t kick someone when they’re down. You don’t attack people who are already made vulnerable in society. That’s not what comedy is about and that’s certainly not what I’m about, but that’s what I did. And you know what?

I was wrong.

I was wrong, wrong wrongity wrong and I’m sorry. I had no idea, HAVE no idea, how difficult it must be to feel like you don’t fit in with something so many people take for granted. I just had this teensy little experience –something that’ll be a chapter in a book someday and that I was laughing about 48 hours later– but the rejection and the lack of understanding is something I’ll never forget.

I hope someday as a society we’ll be at the place where we can reclaim the word “tranny” just as we’ve reclaimed “queer” but we’re not there yet, and until we are, the word “tranny” no longer has a place in my vocabulary outside the auto-mechanical realm.

18 Responses to “Plumcake’s Very Special Episode”

  1. Kai Jones May 28, 2010 at 12:47 pm #

    An impressive and admirable post. Good on you!

  2. Lisa May 28, 2010 at 1:08 pm #

    Word.

  3. Lisa May 28, 2010 at 1:22 pm #

    Actually, I do have a story here. When I lived in Hollywood (before it gentrified and before I had any money), I had my own SATC moment where I realized that the street life around my apartment complex was mostly young male or cross-dressing sex workers. The same people, in and out, and you got to know them a bit because I had these two cute dogs that some of guys/gals liked to pay attention to, and I had to be out walking at night. They were happy for me when I finished my PhD and moved to Virginia for my first job. They were young and extremely vulnerable and trying to survive in a world that had no room for them save as pariah. I fret about them still, the way I still fret over the people I worked with in Botswana and Mozambique, cut off from clean water. Like water, you have to have respect and acceptance to live–it’s that simple–and both are in unnecessarily short supply.

  4. Plumcake May 28, 2010 at 1:32 pm #

    @Lisa, beautifully said.

  5. Sara Darling May 28, 2010 at 1:46 pm #

    I really like what you said, but am going to play devil’s advocate a bit. Based on my very limited experience (my best friend is transitioning M2F) I think there’s a certain amount of understanding that “looking like a tranny” is not necessarily hate speech. That’s something that she talks about in her community and just the way you and I don’t want to be mistaken for M2F transexuals, neither do they. They want to look like women, which is what they are. And many of them do. The few that don’t… well, as a caring but shy lady I manage not to flag them down, drag them into a bar, and have a deep meaningful conversation with them about how they are being perceived and if they are happy with that perception and what they could do to change that perception if they indeed want to. Because it’s not my place to do that and it would not be polite.

  6. Genevieve May 28, 2010 at 1:50 pm #

    Well said, Plumcake (and Lisa). I’m a second generation, well, I like “Prom Date” better, so let’s use that, but even growing up not caring that ok, some men have husbands and some men have wives, whatever, doesn’t mean that I’ve not had slip-ups and difficulties as well. It’s the ability to recognize them when they happen, acknowledge that you were the one who screwed up, and change that makes you an awesome, wonderful person–and that’s what you’ve done (does that sound patronizing? I don’t mean for it to!). Wonderful post, Plumcake!

  7. Abby May 28, 2010 at 2:00 pm #

    You don’t attack people who are already made vulnerable in society. Beautifully said. People are still getting killed over this, fairly regularly in fact.

    Takes a big (heh) woman to admit a wrong. Brava, Plumcake. Now let’s talk about shoes.

    PS, re childbirth. Drugs, darling. Lots of drugs.

  8. Plumcake May 28, 2010 at 2:16 pm #

    @Genevieve, oh, I didn’t think it was hate speech, at all, but it wasn’t exactly “on” either, if that makes any sense.

    @Abby, I got those Cavallis yesterday, they are so Jerseyfabulous (and yes, I’m still going to make fun of New Jersey) I don’t even have words. Red patent leather with a gold heel and sole and a serpent winding its way up the heel. Trashtastic!

    @Sara. I totally what you get mean, which is why I said it in my interview. I didn’t even think about it because of course I didnt’ mean all transgendered people, I meant the ones where the wig is always crooked and the clothes are all wrong. But that’s like saying “I don’t want to look like a fat girl” and then adding “I didn’t mean ALL fat girls, I just meant the sloppy, frumpy ones in the bad clothes.” We’re lumped into a negative stereotype whether we want it or not.

  9. Ellie May 28, 2010 at 3:21 pm #

    Good for you. This is an admirable post.

  10. Sara Darling May 28, 2010 at 3:25 pm #

    You’re right, I know you’re right. There’s the intention behind the word, but then there’s the word itself.

  11. Melissa May 28, 2010 at 5:10 pm #

    Finally, this blog is getting back to the blog I love and not a recipe site or something else. I applaud your stance and your willingness to apologize. No one expects perfection, we expect good fashion and some thought provoking text. It is truly Southern to apologize even years after the fact.

  12. cutselvage May 28, 2010 at 6:15 pm #

    team plumcake! I love this post, and am full of admiration.

  13. BrooklynShoeBabe May 28, 2010 at 7:32 pm #

    Brava, Plumcake. A beautiful apology.

    As a strong-ish, somewhat sassy black woman, I had often thought of you as being a strong black sassy woman in the vain of Nell Carter on Gimme A Break. :-)

    I often hear looking like a drag queen as an insult more than looking like a tranny. I never understand how looking like a drag queen is an insult. Their make-up, wigs, and shoes are FIERCE!!!!!!!

    And, if it is only the pain factor that is preventing you from delivering biological offspring, let me give you some more reasons…lol. No, seriously, lots of drugs. LOTS OF DRUGS Although I had to have a C-section and didn’t experience the joy of contractions, that recovery pain was a bitch. Thank all the gods for morphine. (If you want to be a mom, may I also suggest adoption which is the route I took before I got pregnant.)

  14. Cara May 29, 2010 at 6:18 am #

    “Does a womb make a woman?

    I’ve got one but I don’t plan on using it, another friend with a passel of gorgeous biological children (although they’re gross, because all children are gross…gross and moist) doesn’t have one anymore. Does that make me more of a woman even though I’ve never done womanly things like push a shrieking, money-sucking demon the size of a toaster oven out of my Very Thing? Of course not.”

    Thank you. Thank you so much for that. Not wanting to have children even though one is equipped to have one is such a taboo today. As a childless woman who just doesn’t want children, I can’t say how much of a relieve it is to read your words. Whenever I speak about it, everybody considers me a heartless monster who will regret it in a few years because noone will take care of me when I’m starting to drool. People start pressuring that kids are so cute and bring such joy and frankly, I don’t care about drugs dulling the pain of childbirth, no matter how much. It’s your choice to have children, you’re happy with it, fine, I’m happy with my choice of not having children and I would never ask you if you regret pushing them out because that would be impolite an insensitive.

  15. Abby May 29, 2010 at 9:23 pm #

    @Plumcake Ooh, those shoes sound divinely inappropriate.

    @Cara, I’m sorry it seems everyone is on your ass to have babies. I’m fully in support of women who choose not to. I had a kid because I wanted to but there certainly isn’t any rational reason to do so. They are, as P. points out, moist, also expensive, time-sucking, planet-destroying, and incontinence causing. But I hope on this blog we are in general in support of the irrational – 5 inch heels, having babies, etc. My “drugs” remark was meant to be lighthearted, not an endorsement of motherhood.

  16. Cara May 30, 2010 at 4:39 am #

    @abby: I’m sorry my fuse blew. I’m generally in support of everyone doing whatever makes him/her happy as long as it is not harming someone else – whether it be having babies or not having babies. Sometimes, I just wish people would accept that not doing something is a choice as well. Thanks for your kind words.

  17. Jenna May 31, 2010 at 11:51 am #

    My womb still works, but I’ve already rented it out twice, and both were high risk pregnancies. I’m now in my 40s so even if I wanted another shrieking money-sucking demon dogging my every step child, another pregnancy would be a risk I’m not willing to take. At all. Which is why my husband and I have had something permanent done to prevent such.

    And yet people ask me all the time when I’m going to have another one! WTF?

  18. Leah May 31, 2010 at 10:23 pm #

    Plumcake, I so deeply appreciate this you have no idea. Somehow we have come up with this idea that it is better to stick to our guns and look ridiculous than to admit that we were wrong or that experience has changed our perspective. Awesome post and much appreciated.