News carmen and cake

Published on June 13th, 2012 | by Wild Gender


Carmen Carrera Speaks Out Against “Cake Boss” Transphobic Prank

UPDATE: Following statements from Carmen Carrera, her supporters, TIMA and GLAAD, TLC has pulled the episode from airwaves. Today, TLC confirmed to GLAAD that they immediately removed the episode from rotation after learning of Carrera and her supporters’ concerns, and are reviewing the content to see whether it could be reintroduced following edits.  Repeats of the episode scheduled to air last night also did not run.

HOBOKEN, N.J. — Performer and trans activist, Carmen Carrera, is calling for “Cake Boss”—a TLC show about New Jersey cake artisans—to re-edit an episode in which she recently appeared as a guest star. In the episode, called “Bar Mitzvah, Beads & Oh Baby!” which aired on June 11, Carrera unwittingly becomes the butt of a blatantly transphobic prank.

In the show, “Cake Boss” lead, Buddy Valastro jokingly vows revenge against co-star, Anthony “Cousin Anthony” Bellifemine, luring him into a bar where Carrera is waiting. On camera, Bellifemine flirts with Carmen. They pose for photos together, he asks for her number, and she gives him a kiss on the cheek.

“Anthony right now is on top of the world,” says Valastro in a voice over. “He don’t know what’s coming baby.”

In the edit, Valastero delivers the punchline, “that’s a man, baby!” he says. What follows is a clip of Bellifemine physically jogging out of the bar in a show of fear and disgust.

“Carmen loved the fact that they thought she was attractive,” Buddy continues in the voice over. “I could tell by the look in (Bellifemine’s) eyes that I changed his life forever.”

Outraged immediately after the premier of the episode at seeing her likeness used to perpetuate anti-transgender bias, Carrera contacted the show’s producer by text message.

“I wrote to him to say, listen I’m really upset,” said Carrera. “He responded by saying, ‘yeah, I was afraid of that.’ I said, ‘I don’t understand, I told you I wanted to turn this into something positive. I wanted it to educate, to use the correct terminology. We talked about this.’ And all he said was, ‘I was a little concerned. But you looked great, I hoped you enjoyed the rest of it.”

Carrera is furious that the production company (High Noon Entertainment) deceived her into believing her participation in the show would help thwart the misogyny of this particular character— Bellifemine—who Carrera said the producers referred to as a “big womanizer who treats women like crap, and needs to have a better appreciation for women.”

“I said, perfect. I’d be happy to educate him and the people that watch this show,” Carrera said. Before taping, she acknowledges that she understood the setup of the plot, as unveiling her gender identity to a non-transgender man who was supposedly attracted to her. “But what I said was, ‘listen, at the time of reveal, I want you to use the correct terminology. Do not disrespect me.’ It was supposed to be an example that it’s OK to find a transgender woman attractive, beautiful and healthy.”

Carrera also received an apology from Valastro by phone on June 12 after a petition garnered nearly 7,000 signatures on her behalf, demanding a public expression of regret from the show. Valastero also released a statement on his Facebook.

“Fine whatever, you apologized. But I was completely deceived, when we shot (the episode) it was no big deal. They said it was a ‘family show,’ so we invited my husband to come. After (the taping) we all ate cake together and hung out,” she said. “It wasn’t my experience on the show, but how they edited it that makes me so angry. On the phone, Buddy said that he didn’t mean anything malicious by it. ‘Don’t worry, I’ll make you a cake,’ he said.”

Carrera and her representatives are now concerned about subsequent reruns of the episode and the 120 countries where the show is slated to air. Carrera is hoping for a reedit of the episode, or at the very least, a disclaimer that appears on all airings of “Bar Mitzvah, Beads & Oh Baby!” that makes it clear, she does not endorse her likeness to be used in this way, as a blatant perpetuation of transphobia. She is currently working directly with the Trans/Gender Identity Media Advocacy (TIMA) organization and representatives of GLAAD as a means to achieve these goals.

“The use of Carmen’s gender identity as a punchline for a joke is extremely problematic to say the least,” said Emerson Whitney, a representative from TIMA. “Cake Boss is relying on a sensationalist, reductive narrative about trans people to generate laughs. It is dehumanizing to transgender women, and perpetuates a fear-based conception of trans women as people who ‘trick’ non-transgender men into sleeping with them.”

Carrera’s primary concern is that viewers of the show identify her as willingly feeding a gross stereotype.

“I’ve been trying to work at educating the general public about my transgender identity as a beautiful thing, and this is like taking 20 steps back,” she said. “I don’t want a cake, I don’t want an apology. I want them to have some remorse for what they did and fix this. At the end of the day, I want to promote equality and end ignorance. Transgender people are dying because of stupidity like this. It is not OK.”

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About the Author

Wild Gender

is an online magazine and creative hub born out of gratitude for the gift of full expression. We are dedicated to creative practices that celebrate gender fluidity, identity and expression. Wild Gender prioritizes visual art, creative writing, and journalistic work by trans/gender-variant individuals who have never before been published in a public venue. Run entirely by volunteers,we are always in search of writers, thinkers, and creators hoping to participate in our growing community.

5 Responses to Carmen Carrera Speaks Out Against “Cake Boss” Transphobic Prank

  1. kayden says:

    Carmen, YOU agreed to be the butt of the joke. What reaction were you hoping for? The role was set up for people to laugh at the ‘Grand Reveal’ and say “HAHA u fell for a MAN”. If you really saw herself as a woman, there would be no joke for you to be a part of…. THAT was your role…to LURE MEN IN… TO TRICK THEM…. You cant go on jerry springer or maury and say yes ill be the butt of the joke but then cry later when they call you a man. Same goes here. YOU promoted your ‘line trap’ role for a whole week, then you get bent out of shape when the show airs exactly what you promoted would happen. 

    You sold US ALL (transwomen) out in exchange for some Reality TV air time, and now you wants us to rally behind you and join hands singing Kumbaya as if we can’t see right through the bullshit. I agree, no one has the right to call you a man. EVER. However, if you don’t put your hand in fire, you won’t get burned.

    You had no business on that show playing the role of a line trap. I feel betrayed by YOUR actions as a member of my community, whom many young tgirls look up to. It was YOUR responsibility to say, “No, my gender is not something to be laughed at on national television.” 

    You’ve been making your round on reality tv shows lately, (trying to land an acting or hosting job Im sure) This petition reeks of a failed attempt to get on headlines more than an act of advocacy.

    • You are a horrible person and you should feel bad.

      Did you even read the article? She said she told the producers she wanted to educate about trans issues and to use proper terminology.

      All your other points are wrong too. Carmen is an entertainer, her job is to promote herself. Reality TV shows cast just like other TV shows, so her agent is doing his job and booking her gigs and she is doing her job by attending these gigs. She is doing absolutely nothing wrong and you should direct your anger onto the transphobic shit heads who produced this piece of shit.

      • kayden says:

        Malika, it’s obvious you lack a broader understanding of this entire situation. There is a lot more to this story than what included. Take a look at her initial Press Release. She spent an entire week PRIOR to the air date promoting her involvement on the show as a ‘PRANK’ to lure a man in to flirt with her. Therefor, she admits that she WILLINGLY knew and AGREED to participating in this act. As I said, they were wrong for calling her a man. However, Carmen’s participation in the initial act of ‘tricking’ a man is what many educated Transwoman find appalling. 

        Do you think it’s ok for a Tramswoman such as Carmen to go on National Television and go along with playing the role of a TGirl who tricks a man into thinking she is a biological female?  She says (in this very same article) that she knew there was going to be a ‘reveal’. Are you really NOT getting the bigger picture here?

  2. Pingback: GLAAD Stands with Carmen Carrera in Demanding Action from TLC after Anti-Transgender Prank on Cake Boss | LGBT Human Rights. Gay News, Entertainment, Travel

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