The International Day of Transgender Visibility took me by surprise for several reasons. The first reason is that I had never heard of it. Being transgender myself, I thought I was aware of most of the LGBT days of recognition and all of the trans* specific days. Needless to say, obviously I wasn’t. The second reason that it took me by surprise was that despite being trans myself, it left me feeling like an outsider.
It must be a generational thing. The trans people that were visible all seemed to be young, beautiful, and accomplished. They had published books, drawn beautiful cartoons, edited national magazines, and starred in television shows. While I, on the other hand, am not young, beautiful, or accomplished. The totality of my life seems to have been spent in almost complete isolation, trying to be presentable enough that I am not mortified to see myself in a mirror, and surviving from day.
I don’t seem to be what you would call a poster child for transgender advancement.
The second thing that absolutely destroyed my self image on March 31st was that I decided to get my taxes done that day. So that was the day that I was laughed at by a tax preparatory professional. I was informed that my income was substantially below average and that my knowledge of finances was abysmal. In addition to the financial flogging, I had to listen to an overly curious cis person asking me what my name was before and why I picked the name that I ultimately chose.
So what is an overweight, middle aged, transgender hermit to do when faced with a day like this? Go home and bake something, of course.
I decided to try something new. I wanted to bake a cake, but not any of the usual cakes that I bake. Instead of my usual cakes, I decided to bake a red velvet cake with cream cheese icing. I have heard people rave about red velvet cakes. Many of the people I know seem to think that they are the greatest cake that has ever been baked.
Baking the cake from scratch was a possibility, but I have also heard that they are ridiculously difficult to make, so I decided to make one using a cake mix.
I chose a Duncan Hines mix and only did minimal substitutions to the recipe. Instead of the oil that the recipe calls for, I substituted butter. This is a customary substitution for me. Butter can be substituted for oil at a one to one ratio making the substitution easy. It also makes the cake richer and more moist. I have never found a downside to making this substitution.
The batter mixed up beautifully! It was a deep, rich red that was smooth and creamy. It went into my prepared cake pan and looked like a masterpiece even before I put it in the oven.
I won’t bore you with the details of the baking. Simply put, the cake baked as expected, was cooled, iced, and ready for consumption.
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect on my first bite; but regardless of expectations, I wasn’t overwhelmed with awe and bliss. Sure, the texture was good. The color was still the same beautiful red. The flavor was decent and it blended well with the cream cheese icing. It was moist and rich. Regardless, it didn’t seem to be anything special to me.
My usual types of cake are made with gelatin or pudding, with cocoa and vanilla, or whipped cream and strawberries, maybe lemons or pineapple. They are simple and plain, yet moist and delicious. They may not sit on a plate as beautiful as a picture, but they are almost impossible for me to resist.
I guess this could all be turned into a metaphor for the life of the other trans people. We can all be valuable for who we are instead of for how we look. The splendid people aren’t necessarily superior to the ordinary. We can all be who we are without the need to fit into what other people deem beautiful. A life less rich is still worth having.
But the truth is: as difficult as the world can be, sometimes you just need cake.