THERE’S A WORD FOR THAT — MIKKI GILLETTE

CHARACTERS
POE – a trans woman in her 20s, quirky and light-hearted by nature, the difficulties of living
and dating as a trans woman have heightened her suspicion and vigilance.
EDDIE – a cis man in his 20s, though kind and empathetic, he can be sensitive to critiques that
counter his self-image.
SETTING
A restaurant in a U.S. city.
TIME
Present day.
PUNCTUATION NOTES
A stroke (/) marks the point of interruption in overlapping dialogue.
A dash (-) marks the halting of a thought.


POE, a trans woman in her 20s and EDDIE, a cis man in his 20s, sit in a restaurant.

POE

Sometimes people ask me, like, “What’s your favorite band? Or movie?” and I don’t know how
to answer, you know?

EDDIE

You don’t?

POE
(embarrassed)

No, because – never mind. It’s not really / important

EDDIE
Huh? . . . You can / say if you want

POE
What I meant is, before I –
(uncomfortable)

Transitioned . . . I would watch, like, the worst
deep cut “Transformers” film over and over,
probably as some gender chemotherapy exercise,
and then blather on about the / cinematography

EDDIE
(surprised)
Oh right . . . you’re / trans

POE

Um . . . yeah. I mean, I totally / messaged you that

EDDIE
Sure . . . I / remember now

POE
You have a weird expression / all the sudden

EDDIE
What? . . . I think this is just / my face

POE
I disclosed within like, five minutes of you /
messaging

EDDIE
I know. Sorry, I just forgot . . . Please don’t worry
about – I mean, I’m enjoying getting to know / you

POE
(uneasy)
Okay . . . I guess my point was, it’s hard to tell
how much of my taste was authentic, and what was
just, like, conforming to / expectations

EDDIE
Right . . . well, do you still like Transformers / movies

POE
No . . . they’re like “Triumph of the Will,” but with
Mark Wahlberg, you know? So even worse . . . wait –
you don’t like those movies, / do you

EDDIE
No, I also prefer “Triumph of the Will.”
Pause.

POE
Um . . . that was a joke, right?

EDDIE
Yes.

POE
Oh good . . . always have to be gauging the “potential
threat level,” right?
(quickly, nervous)
Haha.

EDDIE
(laughs, uneasy)
Um, did you say “threat / level”?

POE
Sorry, you can just pretend that / didn’t happen

EDDIE
Did you mean – you weren’t saying / that I’m

POE
No . . . I mean, not more than other, you know,
cis, / straight

EDDIE
I didn’t do something wrong, did I? We’re just talking
about, um, Mark / Wahlberg, and

POE
I know. Please, don’t mind me –

EDDIE
Okay /

POE
Although, the “just talking” period “is” where one
gauges threats, right? Before it’s too late?

EDDIE
Technically, I guess – wait, what are we / discussing

POE
Nothing. Ugh, I shouldn’t have brought up my transition.
Now all / I can think about

EDDIE
(compassionate)
Oh, I don’t want you to feel uncomfortable . . . I mean,
we’re having a good time, / right

POE
Yes, totally . . . Although earlier you were, like –
(imitating Eddie)
“Oh, right. You’re / trans”

EDDIE
Um, I don’t actually talk like / that

POE
And I thought, oh great. He’s going to go home and
post a GIF of the stupid Family Guy dog throwing
up under a “Tonight’s date” caption, or / something

EDDIE
(uncomfortable)
I wouldn’t do – um, why would / you think

POE
Or, fuck, maybe he’s going to post my profile photo
on some gross subreddit, saying –
(imitating, only coarser)
“Watch out for this dude, / guys”

EDDIE
I’ve never done – I don’t really sound like that when
I / talk, do I?

POE
Hmm? No – or, I mean, kind of? Let’s talk about
something / else

EDDIE
Okay . . . on your profile, you said you like rock climbing, right?

POE
Oh, um . . . that was a lie.

EDDIE
Huh?

POE
I, you know, made that up.

EDDIE
Oh . . . why would / you

POE
(sighs, impatient)
In dating profiles, I noticed everyone claims to like
athletic, outdoor activities. I assumed they were
all lying, so I just decided to lie, / also

EDDIE
You really thought one hundred percent of the
people on / those apps were

POE
Basically.
(groans, head in hands
Look, I wan’t saying you personally would post
horrible, transphobic shit about me, but the things I
described before have happened to girls I know. Also, I
saw that you got uncomfortable when I brought up the
Family Guy / thing, so

EDDIE
(evasive)
I was probably just surprised at being, um, accused,
or / . . .

POE
I wasn’t accusing you. I was . . .
(self-conscious)
Um, doom spiraling, which is always a successful
first date strategy.

EDDIE
(compassionate)
I didn’t really notice the – we’re having a good time, right?
Remember the “Triumph of the Will” jokes?
Poe forces a weak laugh before collapsing on the table.

EDDIE
Um . . . Poe?

POE
(muffled)
I’m okay.

EDDIE
(hiding concern)
Oh good . . . And did you maybe want to, um, sit / up

Poe groans, then slowly pushes herself up again.

POE
I’m sure this looks kind of suboptimal, but when you
consider how hard it is to date as a trans woman, I
think my performance here is / not bad

EDDIE
(hiding confusion)
Um, / sure

POE
It’s like, “Well, every movie I watched growing up
suggested I’ll either murder other people, or be
murdered myself, because I like wearing dresses, but
I’m sure this evening will be / fun”

EDDIE
Are you sure you’re feeling / okay

POE
“I hope I don’t get doxxed tonight because the person
I’m seeing feels upset about my gender identity. Also,
did I remember / my keys?”

EDDIE
That sounds really hard.

POE
I don’t know. Other girls do it all the time. I should
probably just be a nun, or something.

EDDIE
(slightly guilty)
No, I mean it. What you’re saying is true, / and

POE
“Trans nun – queering the church from the inside.”
That would actually be pretty awesome . . . except I’d
have to live in a convent, I guess, and go to church a lot.

EDDIE
I appreciate you sharing . . . everything.

POE
Right, what better getting to know you chat could there
be?

EDDIE
No, I mean it . . . Just to clarify, though: you don’t think
I would ever be the kind of – I mean, I’m not like those /
guys who

POE
What?

EDDIE
I’m saying, it’s not like we just met at a party. We messaged
for a while, and I’m not all, “I love to doxx / people”

POE
I guess. But I don’t think anyone’s like, “I love to doxx
people.” If they were, we could stop them before / they

EDDIE
That’s true . . . it sounds like it’s hard for you to trust people, though,
and I wouldn’t want you to feel – I mean,
I’m not saying “I’m perfect,” or whatever, but I hope
you’re feeling okay here with me.

POE
Yeah, this is – it’s actually kind of nice.

EDDIE
Oh good . . . for a minute there, I was afraid that when
you were sharing your worst-case scenarios, they were,
like, some coded reference to how you saw me.

POE
(hiding annoyance)
Oh, right.

EDDIE
“Threat level” and all, you / know

POE
What about “threat level”?

EDDIE
Well, it implied that I’m . . . somehow / a threat

POE
You are. Women like me get harassed, assaulted and
killed by the men we date.

EDDIE
I know, but – and I’m not sure how this conversation led
us here – not every man, and not I, specifically, would do that.

Pause.

POE
Wow . . . if the worst thing that could happen to
me on a date was someone accurately noting that I
could ruin their life without suffering any
consequences myself –
(daydreaming)
I can imagine paying a sex worker just to role play
that / scenario

EDDIE
Okay . . . I guess what I meant was –
(vulnerable)
We’re on a date. I was hoping you’d be . . . interested,
at least a little, in me as a person.

POE
(embarrassed)
Oh, sorry . . . I got a little fixated on, I guess, being
victimized, or – but, no, you’re right. Let’s live in the
moment.

EDDIE
(uncertain)
So does that mean -?

POE
Yeah, um . . . what are your hobbies?

EDDIE
Hobbies? I play softball. I’m in a fantasy football
league. I / like

POE
Very sports oriented.

EDDIE
I guess . . . oh, right. You think athletics don’t exist.

POE
I remain skeptical.

EDDIE
And what about you? When you’re not enduring
dates with cis men, what / do you like?

POE
(playful)
You know the word “cis” . . . I’m impressed.

EDDIE
It’s 2022.

POE
Tell that to Dave Chapelle.

Eddie laughs, then pauses, guiltily.

EDDIE
(embarrassed, with difficulty)
When you said that thing earlier, about the dog from
the Family / Guy

POE
(nervous, suspicious)
Yes?

EDDIE
The reason I looked uncomfortable was . . . I had a
friend, and we sometimes shared – it was dumb,
like an inside / joke

POE
What are you saying? Did you share it when – was
it about trans / women?

EDDIE
Not always, but . . . famous ones, / or

Poe stands, upset.

POE
This has been delightful. I’m so glad you wanted /
to meet

Eddie stands, nervous.

EDDIE
Please wait, Poe.

POE
(gathering her things)
Don’t let me keep you from your “inside / jokes”

EDDIE
The reason I said that just now is because – you may
not even care, but . . . you’ve helped me think a lot
about, you know, the ways I’ve been shitty around
this stuff / and

POE
Transphobia.

EDDIE
Right. That’s –

POE
Transmisogyny.

EDDIE
Um . . . / okay

POE
It’s the word that describes when people are
assholes to trans women –
(quietly)
Like the dog on The Family Guy.

EDDIE
Right, that’s what I’m talking – you don’t have to
stay, but . . . I just wanted to tell you I listened,
and I’m sorry I did that before.

Poe, surprised, pauses. Her anger cooling, she warily sits again. Eddie sits, as well.

POE
I accept your apology, I guess.

EDDIE
Thank you.

POE
That sounded weird, like I was accepting it on
behalf of all – anyway, I appreciate your honesty.

EDDIE
I’m glad.

(pause)

You didn’t share what your hobbies were before.

POE
I go on dating apps to find men to doxx.

EDDIE
Um . . . that was a – you’re joking, / right

POE
Yes, I am. I sing in a trans choir.

EDDIE
Really? That sounds nice.

POE
(droll)
Wait till you’ve heard us before you say that.

EDDIE
(flirty)
I wouldn’t mind having the chance.

Poe smiles, a little surprised. The two pick up their menus, intrigued.

***
Mikki Gillette is a trans woman playwright, whose work depicts the trans experience in all its juicy, dramatic richness. Her play The Queers will be produced by Fuse Theatre Ensemble in March. Her show Mimetic Desire is scheduled for production by the Pittsburgh Classic Players in fall 2022. Mikki’s work has been produced or developed at Artists Rep Theatre, Transformation Theatre, the OUTwright Theatre Festival, Profile Theatre and Post5 Theatre. Her short work has been published in Rushing Thru the Dark, Barely Seen and Fleas on the Dog. Learn more at: mikkigillette.com