Some Thoughts on the Gender Binary and Everything Else in Between, by Jennifer Angelina Petro

Some Thoughts on The Gender Binary

And Everything Else

In Between

By

Jennifer Angelina Petro

 

 

What I am about to share is going to piss somebody off.  Seems that way about most everything I say nowadays.  However, if you truly have faith in your God, or you truly have faith in who you are as human being, then what you are about to read should not be threatening to anything you believe or experience.  This is not to say that what I have written here is perfect.  Far from it.  Language barriers, prejudices, and fears—yours and my own– make that impossible.  Let’s get on with it.  I am ready for the mean, hateful, harmful, and trolling comments from “both” sides (and “both” is in quotations because well, you’ll see). I am also ready for nice comments.  I am inviting them too. I hope.

I will give you that the idea of the binary exists.  I know, many scientists today say the gender binary doesn’t exist in the ways we’ve traditionally thought, and I totally support their findings.  That said, the idea of polarities exists. It is seemingly everywhere—day and night, cold and hot, light and dark, rainy days and clear days, fire and water, sky and earth.  Having given you that, you will inevitably need to give me, that there isn’t, and never will be, a truly individuated or separate representation or living form that will ever exist on the opposite ends of the binary.  For the opposite ends of the binary are only ideas, even if they are created by God. If this scares you, then so must the idea of the morning, or of the evening, or rainbows, or singing.

The opposite ends of the binary only exist to overtake the other—swallow it up, merge within in it, into and unto, itself—not in battle, never forced—but in dance and song, and flavor.  That is the miracle, that is the beginning of all things.  The purpose of the binary is not to separate, but to join, merge, and hence, create.

No one can imagine the idea of the opposites without seeing, feeling, experiencing, knowing, or witnessing that they are all in some relationship with the other.

Go ahead, stand on the earth without forever being also in the sky.  Be in the middle of a perfectly sunny day and not know that evening is already on its way.  Step into a pool that you want not too hot and not to cold.  You get what I’m saying.

Having given you that the binary exists as theoretical reference points (I know, I know, the Bible says God created male and female and it also says: Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones,” or, “God brought them out of Egypt; he hath as it were the strength of an unicorn.”   I know, I know, you can take a verse of the Bible and use it to back up even the most outlandish ideas.  Like this one: “Slaves, obey your earthly masters with deep respect and fear. Serve them sincerely as you would serve Christ.”  I know you can take the fact that God killed about 25 million people in the Bible to represent the killing of our unbelief or to justify the slaughter of unbelievers, but then again, so do some Muslims).  It is high time and low time, to grasp and let go, once and for all, and forever anew, the idea that the front of a coin can be separated from the back.  They exist because of one another and because of what they manifest—and in the case of human existence—they manifest all that is wonderful (not the coins themselves, but what they represent, well, not what they represent, but what they demonstrate).

Cold is nothing unless heat exists.  Up means nothing without down.  Music is only heard in silence. Purple only arises between shades of blue and shades of red. Death prowls and life blooms.  It is the space between them that brings forth all things; where all things wondrous, flavorful, truthful (yes, truthful), and just plain living—exist.  It is in the mingling where the fun begins.

Two people do not have sex in order to annihilate the other.  They have sex to blend together, breathe and gasp together, come together.  It is this joining of bodies, souls, hearts, and minds that brings forth life.

I know, I just got done saying the opposite ends of the binary only exist to overtake the other.  Remember what I also said—the true opposite ends of the binary do not exist except in theory.  You will never find them in life—no man is ever just a man—he has his “feminine” side.  No woman is ever just a woman.  She will have her “masculine” side.  God becomes the mother hen to keep us safe under his wings.  No night is ever not slipping into day.

And that is my point.  Living is in the union.  Fun is in the merging.  Wonder is in the rainbow.  Beauty is in the evening sky.

So please, just as you cannot deny the idea of the binary, you cannot deny the existence of infinite variety, or of the intricate, heavenly, ever-expanding spectrum between the opposite ends of that binary.

I know, there are flaws in what I say.  Language makes things messy and muddles meaning up. You can easily take my words and use them to prove the exact opposite of what I am saying.  That being what it is—you cannot lose sight (well, you can out of your own shadowy, shame-based fears—and we all have them) that all the good stuff lives within and on and with and along a spectrum.  And nothing in between threatens the existence of the binary. The binary will always be the idealized ideas of opposites in the same way day and night will be always be idealized ideas of opposites.  I do not use the word “idealized” to mean better.  I mean it to say, the ultimate opposite ends of the spectrum only exist as ideas.  They never truly manifest, one without the other.

Go ahead, flip a coin.  Not only does it rise, tumbling upwards into the air, it also tumbles down landing on either heads or tails—and these will never exist one without the other—front and back. But I said that already, and I will say it again, at risk of being repetitive (the crusty idea of the idealized binary has been repeated for eons, but so has the idea that God creates souls to burn them in hell, or that the earth is flat, or that slavery is ever a human thing to do). So, I repeat:

It is the stuff that exists along the spectrum that is most intensely alive.  It is the dance between stillness and movement, music and silence, light and darkness, male and female, death and life that makes existence wonderful.  We are born, we die, and it is the living in between that gives either of these meaning (and please don’t think I am associating masculinity with light and darkness with femininity. Remember, however, that language is goofy.  Then again, feel free to associate anything with anything—you’ll get a good idea of how you live your life).

The spectrum is undeniable, and completely, and utterly, wondrously, beautiful, vibrant, and living.

So please do not tell me I do not exist as a transgender person.  I am a living arc–a living rainbow “across” genders. Please do not tell my queer friends, non-binary friends, asexual friends, and so on—that they do not exist.  We are the beauty and meaning of the ideas of so-called, male and female.  We are what is meant to be celebrated because the true opposites will never exist in form.  Murder is not always bad or the Christian religion would mean nothing.  Rebellion is not always bad or else freedom would not exist.  This is not relativism. This is reality.  No one loves without a hint of hate.   No one prays without a hint of doubt.

People like me are the rainbows, we are the mornings and evenings, we are that place where stars and darkness dance.  We are the perfect temperature for swimming.  We are the space between inhaling and exhaling.  We are the glorious existence of form.  And we include all gender identities, all gender expressions, every gender preferences, every rainbow, every song, and every breath.  And so then, we include you.

Do not fear the rainbow.  Go find it, and take out your phones and snap pictures of it.  Give thanks to Goddess for it. Take a selfie with it in the background.  It is a sign that God will never again destroy the earth with a flood—a flood of ignorance, fear, bigotry, or hatred.  The rainbow is the spectrum that blooms from the skies of our souls.

 

IMG_20170406_185239

 


 

 



All donations go to medical bills and groceries.  Thank you for your support.

Our Only Hope, A Solution No One Wants to Hear, by Jennifer Angelina Petro

Our Only Hope

A Solution No one Wants to Hear

By

Jennifer Angelina Petro

 

 

Have you ever been so afraid that you went against your core values and morals?  Have you ever been so scared you stopped thinking clearly, gave into fear, and just reacted?  Let’s take a very minor scenario:  Have you ever been late to something—your kid’s soccer game or work, and you drove recklessly, disobeying speed signs, traffic signals, and disregarded your own safety and the safety of those around you, and so on?

When we are desperately afraid of losing something or someone we hold dear we can become frantic, mean, thoughtless, and so rigidly determined to do everything we can not to lose what we love that we stop listening to our hearts or consciences.

What would make a thoughtful, intelligent, perhaps even religiously minded person, vote for Donald Trump?

Fear.  And nearly half the country voted for him.

Not every Trump supporter is a racist.  Many however come from rural America where a kind of poverty exists that is rarely talked about.  Jobs are hard to find in the city.  Jobs are hard to find around farmlands and old coalmining towns.

Imagine along comes a wretched human being who claims to have a solution, who feeds your fears to such a degree that you look past his immorality so desperate you are to save your family, your town, your farm, your family business, your values.

Imagine fear seeping into your heart so much that it effects your reasoning.  You might become afraid of everything that moves, everything that’s different from what you have always known.  And as more fear is poured into you the more desperate you become for some thread of security even if it is presented in ways that make little sense or by someone abhorrent.

Are the poor living in rural areas victims?  Are the poor living in the inner cities victims?  People do desperate things in the inner city for money.  People do desperate things in the country for money.  And not just for money, but for opportunities they feel aren’t there for them—opportunities for jobs, college, healthcare.  The overriding issue of desperation is the same.

If you have never allowed your morals and values to be set aside for even something seemingly minor, then you are a better person than me.  Thing is, if Trump gets impeached or assassinated (and Pence chokes to death on a piece of beef) we would still have half the country that believed their wretched ideology.  To me, voting for Trump was a horribly desperate call for help and change.  And maybe an inner change so fundamental that some people don’t even realize how unconsciously they acted.

If you ask Trump supporters why they voted for him they might say something like this:

“We want change.  We are tired of the average politician.  We are afraid of this group or that group.  We are afraid of terrorists.  We are afraid we will lose our farms, our businesses, we are afraid of not having work—jobs, opportunities, access to healthcare and education—we live in rural areas where the poverty we experience often goes unnoticed.  We are afraid our values are being taken from us. And some of us are scared enough to overlook our candidate’s racism, bullying, and misogyny because we believe he offers the best chance of getting us out of this mess. Anything but politics as usual.  That scares me.”

If you ask someone who voted for Hillary they might say something like this:

“We want change (i.e. a woman president).  We are tired of the average politician.  We are afraid of this group or that group.  We are afraid of domestic terrorists.  We are afraid we will lose our homes, our businesses, we are afraid of not having work—jobs, opportunities, access to healthcare and education—we live in urban areas where the poverty we experience gets noticed but little done to solve it.  We are afraid our values are being taken from us. And some of us are scared enough to overlook our candidate’s record on war and big business, and cronyism, because we believe she offers the best chance of getting us out of this mess, and besides, she isn’t him.  He scares me.”

Both sides are based in fear.  And the more the fear grows the more frightening our actions become.  We might sacrifice our family time because we have to pay the bills.  We might sacrifice family traditions for the same reason.  We might sacrifice our values and morals for the same reasons also.  We might manifest a call-out culture to distract ourselves from ourselves and the perhaps directionless state our lives may be in.  We might manifest hideous ideas about Muslims and people of the LGBTQIA spectrum.  We might become willing to fight for beliefs that stem from fear and a gut-wrenching desperation.

And there is little hope.  It feels as if the nation is on the brink of civil war or, at very least, massive civil unrest, and both sides operating from fear, and both sides believing they are in the right.  And like every good kindergarten brawl, both sides will wreck everything in their path to get what they want.

We must find a way to bring together—at risk of over simplifying the image–the country mouse and the city mouse.  We must find a way to ease one another’s fears.  Somehow, someway conversations need to happen between the alt-right and the alt-left.  Somehow dialogs must begin so we can personalize and humanize one another instead of viewing one another through the narrow lenses of stereotypes.  Both sides stereotype, that cannot be denied.

How to get these conversations started is another story.  We need brave, strong moderators.  We need people who can listen and set aside their own fears and prejudices long enough to hear someone out (or in).  Both sides must look past the deeds and ideologies of one another and see the fear in each other’s eyes and the soul of light wanting to be safe.

These conversations need to happen on all levels, but first and foremost Hillary (or Bernie) supporters must reach out to Trump supporters and vice-a-versa.  Difficult conversations need to happen around dinner tables or in living rooms.  These need to then spread to places of worship, and then perhaps schools and town halls, but it starts with us trying to make bridges with one another instead of unfriending and cutting each other out of our lives.

“I hate you!” the kindergartener shouts when scared and angry that they don’t get what they want.

And then the building blocks get thrown.  And people get hurt.

We must be better than this.  And it starts with difficult conversations.

And let’s be clear, the conversations wouldn’t be about trying to convince one another about who is right or wrong.  The conversations should focus around certain fundamental questions such as:

 

1). What is your biggest fear?

2). Do you have enough money to eat?

3). What are you afraid of losing?

4). Do you need anything by way of healthcare or visits to a doctor?

5). How can I help?

6). Does anyone in your family need a tutor or a babysitter?

7). What do you value most in this world?

8). What are your spiritual beliefs?  Tell me about them.  Let’s find common ground.

9). What causes you the most pain—emotionally, physically, spiritually?

10). Are you willing to pray with me?  Share a meal with me?  Be seen in public with me?

11). Who is your favorite music star?  Play me something by them.  Tell me why you like them.

12).  What are your favorite family traditions?

13).  What is one of your most cherished memories?

14). What were your dreams growing up?  What are your dreams now?

15). Where did your ancestors come from?

16). What talents do you have?  Hobbies?  Interests?  Weird habits?

17). What things do we have in common?

18). What is your favorite joke?

 

And, of course, the list could go on, or be simplified.  The point is to ask questions that help draw us together, that help us see the soul in one another, the spirit, the basic humanity, the pain, the joy.

As I see it these conversations are our only hope.  The alternative to coming together is living in a consciously divided country that may or may not end well, and, we all know, likely not well–is, well, the more likely scenario (how’s that for a sentence?).

It’ll never happen! I hear you cry!  As a transperson I am never sitting with an alt-right “Christian.”  As an alt-right Christian I am never sitting with a Muslim!”

Yes, these conversations would be risky and painful, and both sides might sit before one another feeling unsafe or even threatened.  But does either side feel safe now sitting in front of their computers posting angry, fear-based things to rationalize and justify more fear and separation?  Does either side feel safe on the streets?  After all, terrorists of one kind or another are everywhere, guns drawn, bombs at the ready, aren’t they?  I believe we are greater than this—greater than our fears and differences—real or imagined.

I also believe the more we say these conversations will never help or never happen the more we expose ourselves to be just as stridently rigid as those we fear.

I also believe it must be the young people of this country to first take up the challenge of bringing one another together in conversation.  The less hardened, the less frightened, perhaps.  The less indoctrinated.  Then, once young people get the ball rolling, I believe the rest of us can follow their lead.  And speaking of leading:

Some may say we need strong leadership to make these conversations happen, but I disagree.  The people must lead in this instance.  The top is not to be trusted.  It needs to begin with the people. We must take charge of bringing each other together, of trying to heal the painful divisions that exist between us, of trying to see one another as human beings—frightened, desperate human beings frantic to not lose what they so hold dear, even if what they hold dear seems foreign to us, or threatening, or even repugnant.  We must learn to listen in such a way as to allow ourselves to be vulnerable enough to recognize ourselves in the eyes of another.

Maybe it’s too late for hope, or for peace.  Maybe both sides are so deeply and fundamentally afraid that they are creating the very world they fear.  Maybe we all have a deep-seeded death-wish based on massive hopelessness and fear.  Maybe we don’t want a solution.  Maybe we believe it all needs to get torn down in order to get rebuilt the way we like it.  Maybe we all want out because we see no way out and are tired and afraid, and war seems, at least unconsciously, the best alternative.

I am trying hard not to think that way.  I believe in America.  I believe we are a great nation with people full of passion, ideas, creativity, boundless generosity, humor, warmth, kindness.  We must begin believing in one another and to do so we must see each other’s humanity.  We can do this.  We have done hard things before.  I believe in us.  I believe in you.

May our nation be blessed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Relax, You Will Not Be Eaten by Bears Even if You Think a Lot About Being Eaten by Bears, By Jennifer Angelina Petro

Relax, You Will Not Be Eaten by Bears

Even if You Think a Lot

About Being Eaten by Bears

By

Jennifer Angelina Petro

 

 

I saw this ad on my Facebook sidebar that said something like: “You become what you think about,” and, “think happy,” and it got me thinking and feeling annoyed.

Yes, thoughts are things, but do you know what a thought actually is?  I mean really?

Is a thought the stuff that drifts through your head like air through an open window, or static on a radio?  Is it something you create out of your own “mind-stuffs”—in other words is a thought is something you “think it up?”  Is that a thought?

I ask because some people who push things like the Law of Attraction (and I know this because I used to push it myself) haven’t a clue what they are talking about (just like I didn’t), and, as a result, they hurt people, frighten people, helped people feel powerless and defeated.  And that sucks.  Big time.  I am making amends for my past stupidity and this article is part of that process.

Here’s the deal:

 

1). If you spend a lot of time thinking about ashtrays, you will not become an ashtray.

2). If you spend a lot of time thinking about medicine you will not become a doctor.  You might become a doctor, but it wouldn’t be because you thought about medicine day in day out.  It would because you studied and worked hard and got yourself into debt over college loans for the rest of your life.

3). Most of what passes for “thinking,” isn’t.

 

Let’s use some negative reasoning to help us understand what thinking is not.

Thinking is not all the afore mentioned stuff that drifts and sifts and dusts itself through your head.

Thinking is not all the “mindless” listening to NPR or the chatter of other people on the subway (yes, I used the word, “subway,” on purpose to make an allusion to the subconscious.  Some would argue we actually live based on what’s stored (collecting dust) in the attics (basements, dungeons, silos) of our subconscious minds.  This is like believing I am suffering in this lifetime for something I did, but cannot remember doing, in another lifetime.  It is a cruel idea.  It is like saying: “Here, YOU suffer for things unknown.  YOU suffer because I suffer and don’t know why I suffer, but I am going to tell you why YOU suffer.”).

Thinking is not all the stuff you “think” about in a given day—the bills, the bad drivers, the fate of the nation, etc.

And now what I am about to say will sound like a contradiction:

Those things just mentioned above are all examples of “thoughts” yes, but only if we believe the definition of a thought as being anything that just so happens to be in your head at any given moment.  But I don’t categorize these things as the kinds of thoughts that can be properly put into the file of, “thinking,” because they are not the kinds that can ever have truly creative properties.

So please, stop worrying about becoming bipolar because you think about bipolarism.  Please stop worrying you are going to get eaten by a shark because you watch so many shark attack videos.  Please stop worrying that your house will be robbed because you worry about your house being robbed.

Our fears do not, I repeat, do not, attract the things we fear into our lives.  Promise.

I mentioned there are thoughts that have creative properties however.  What kinds of thoughts are these?

They are the ones you invest your heart into.  Thoughts that you think with your heart in addition to your head—those are powerful things; things that can bring about great changes in the world and within yourself.  Here’s why:

Thoughts themselves are images really—sense impressions/impulses flashed on the screen of the mind—they are largely static, lifeless things, sort of like random magnetic poetry words on a refrigerator. However, once you stop, focus, draw your feelings up from your body, from your heart, suddenly those plain, “meaningless” thoughts begin to take form, shape, make sense, create beauty, excitement, dialog, poetry.  YOU have to rearrange them though, like the magnetic words on the fridge. You give them meaning by what you DO with them and how you FEEL about them.  In other words, thoughts can become powerful creational tools when infused with the heart, the soul, the spirit, and most of all, actions.

If you “think” a lot about being attacked by bears but never go into the woods, you’re probably safe from bear attacks.  If you “think” about bear attacks AND THEN go out into places where bears live and you drag around slabs of meat and cart along backpacks full of honeypots, well, then, you might just become bear poop in the very near future.

You see the difference?  One is empty(ish) and the other is boosted with actions.

I suffer from clinical depression.  I have spent many years in various forms of dissociative states.  I am a trauma survivor and someone who suffers from PTSD.  The last thing I need to hear is “think happy thoughts and you will start farting rainbows, and dancing around happy as a well, farting unicorn.”  The last thing I need to hear is “if only you would discipline your thinking to think positive thoughts you would be happy.”

There are times in my life when asking me to think positive thoughts is like asking someone without legs to get up and run.  I simply cannot do it.  I am not choosing to be mentally ill.  I have not chosen to be unhappy.  And I haven’t become depressed by simply thinking depressing thoughts any more than I will become taller by thinking about stilts.

People who find success with positive thinking are probably not as fundamentally ill as I am, and I am tired of being shamed for not being able to think as happily as you.

It’s similar with the Law of Attraction (LOA) cult.  Yes, my thoughts are things, but they are not homeopathic.  They will not attract other similar thoughts and thus, eventually, the desired thing (usually money, success, a relationship, a yacht) (nothing wrong with wanting any of these things, wanting is good, I am just pointing out the LOA cult leaders prey on people who are often economically disadvantaged, the lonely, the down-trodden, the ones who, forgive me for saying so, but who do not think clearly because they CAN’T).

The only kinds of thoughts that will attract other similar thoughts are the ones you think with your heart and hands.  The ones you put your blood, sweat, and tears into.  Things you love.  Things you not only desire, but know are true and good for yourself and the world.

Of course, positive affirmations and positive thinking is a good “idea.”  If it helps, go to town.

So, instead of telling me to “think positive” and to just “be happy,” or to just remember, “thoughts are things,” tell me you love me.  Tell me you’re here to listen.  Tell me you will drive me to my therapy appointment or come out for a cup of tea with me.  Tell me you’re sorry and that you care.  Whatever you do, know that I am listening to you and that it would be great if I knew we could stand together in the world, and not worry together about being eaten by bears.

 

 

 

 

 


 





There is No One Way to Be Trans or the Number Three, by Jennifer Angelina Petro

There Is No One Way to Be Trans, or the Number Three

by

Jennifer Angelina Petro

 

 

There is no one way to be trans just as there is no one way to express, well, anything, even, let’s say, numbers.  The number three is a quantitative value that can be expressed with three acorns, three pieces of candy, three pennies, a triangle, a tripod, and so on.  It can be expressed as 3, III, or three—not to mention how it is expressed in the many different languages of the world.  The fundamental value of a three does not change because of how it is written or illustrated, or expressed or in what language it is referred to in.  Transpeople are fundamentally human beings who just so happen to exist and express themselves on a spectrum of infinite variety.

I could care less how “feminine” I look in some respects, in others I do, but the point is, I choose what is right and true and comfortable and fun for me.  I do not base my gender identity or expression on what the world might think is most “feminine.”  Three pencils and three jolly ranchers both express “threeness” equally validly, and “correctly.”  I express the value of “transness” not wearing makeup just as much as another transperson wearing tons of makeup.

I have met transwomen who were trapped (or so it seemed to me) in the traditional gender binary.  And this is sad.  And can be tragically sad.  Some transwomen try so hard to fit in to what they perceive is the “right” feminine gender norm and kill themselves when they perceive they can’t or don’t.  Some transwomen seemingly buy into the same misogynistic impressions of “femininity,” that many cis-gendered people do.

This past year in which I came out, several transwomen have told me I will never “pass,” unless I fix my eyebrows.  Of course, I had no idea my eyebrows were broken AND I had no idea “passing” was the goal. I thought being my authentic self was. If that includes passing, cool; if it doesn’t, still cool.

One transwoman, a few years older than myself, recently said, after looking me over:

“Have you ever heard of the uncanny valley?”

I hadn’t.

“Well, it’s the idea that some robots and zombies and aliens, etc. make humans feel eerie and uncomfortable because they appear to look CLOSE to human, but aren’t.”

“I see,” I said, while inside drifting steadily into a protective dissociative state (really).

“You just need to fit in more,” she went on without mercy, “work on your makeup, your hair is too flat, your clothes, well, your clothes are OKAY, but you can work on those too.  And your eyebrows…they are way too big.  You haven’t feminized your voice or your moves—your walk.”

Later, after much reflection and a healthy dose of needing to be talked down from a highly triggered state of dysphoria, I thought about just how sad it must be to be her.

She is stuck—I daresay—bound–to the belief that the task of a transwoman is to fit into “American” society’s prevailing views of what women should look like.  If I would only “feminize” myself in such ways, this would, in her mind, make me look more “human,”—less threatening to the “normies.”  If I would just toe the line of “traditional,” “American,” “feminine” ideals then I would find a job and a place to live.  I wouldn’t be so depressed.

I also realized later on that I must be a threat to her on some levels.  She was likely told and bought into the idea that she had to look a certain way in order to be a “real” woman, a woman who “passes,” or a woman who, at very least, doesn’t draw attention to herself.  There are, of course, very real safety concerns for some transwomen, but I think in this case, I must have contradicted decades of, what deep-inside she must view as, her wasted time, money, and life trying to “fit in.” Turns out you can be trans and not have to look a certain way, not have to give a fuck about fitting in.  Something she may never have been told.  Something she cannot bear to hear.

The fact that I don’t wear makeup must fly in the face of her “traditions” about what women should and should not do.  The fact that I don’t care about covering my five-o’clock shadow might make her upset for all the money and time she spent on electrolysis or expensive makeup, not to mention the time she spent shaving, and so on.  The fact that I don’t care how fluffy my eyebrows are might make her resentful at herself for all the countless hours she spent plucking, waxing, trimming, shaping, or threading her eyebrows—and here I am—a whipper-snapper transwoman—who comes along and says: “Um, I’m trans, and I have fluffy eyebrows.  Fuck you.”

Of course it is completely possible she looks the way she does, and does the things to help herself look the way she does, because she likes it, because she chooses it consciously, thinks it’s fun, affirming, liberating, and so on.  And that’s all totally fine, totally acceptable, totally trans.  And when I dress the way I dress or choose not to “feminize” myself in the ways others think I should, I am also acting perfectly, acceptably, and totally, wonderfully trans.

So let’s get some things straight, because there are some things in the world that need to be straight, and these are a few of them:

 

1). There is no one way to be trans.

2). There is no right or wrong way to be trans.

3). Transgender folks are human beings just like everyone else.  We do not belong to any uncanny valleys.  Uncanny valleys are stupid.

4). There is no one way to be a woman, a man, or genderfluid, genderqueer, asexual, bisexual, gay, lesbian, a child, a dog, a puppy, cat, whale, moose, tree, or sky.

5). There is no need for transgender policing in the transgender community.

 

Those are eternal truths just as the number three will always and ever be a three.  A thousand years from now you can hold three pieces of stardust in your hands and they will still represent the number three. A thousand years from now the idea of uncanny valleys will still be stupid.

A penis is most commonly found on “men.”  A vulva most commonly found on “women.”  But that doesn’t mean they are the only places for those organs to be found, and further more they do not define the gender of a human being any more than an arm, leg, nose, liver, or knee cap does.  I am a woman with a penis.  And I don’t like wearing makeup very much.  And further-further more, I just divulged a very personal bit of information about myself because I chose to.  In actuality, what anyone has or does not have in their pants, skirt, spacesuit, etc. is none of your business, and if you think it is, then perhaps the idea of the uncanny valley IS valid because it would then apply to you.

I am a transwoman with fluffy eyebrows.  I am a transwoman who still likes her voice.  I am a transperson who doesn’t believe in “dead names.”  And I am still perfectly, wonderfully a number three, a person, a transperson, a woman who just so happens to be powerful, creative, and full of life.  I am a person who just so happens to be fed up with the policing that goes on in some trans communities.  A person who cares deeply about the young transfolk coming up behind us.

They need to be accepted completely and fully for who they are and how they want or need to express themselves.  They need us.  They need us strong, together, and smart.  They need us to have their backs.  They need us to look in the mirror and at one another, and at THEM, and see love—pure and simple expressions of infinite variety.

 

me again 2

 

 


 

 

 

 





9/11, by Jennifer Angelina Petro

9/11

By

Jennifer Angelina Petro

 

 

I remember being told school was letting out early—

Parents were coming to pick up their children—

A plane had flown into the World Trade Center

And another was circling somewhere—

We all looked up as we handed the students to their families—

We all felt the shock of a national emergency out of nowhere–

We all moved to our cars with uncertain, fragile steps,

Still looking towards the sky—

And then, by the time we had arrived home, another plane crashed into the Pentagon,

And another in a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, not too far from Pittsburgh—

For the rest of the day we huddled around televisions

And radios—and we asked confused questions—stunned questions—

Allah would never—questions—

 

Two days later when we were permitted to return to school

We pondered deeply what to tell our students—

How could we even come close to eulogizing so many?

How could we explain, with any sense at all, what had happened,

Not to mention why?

 

My fourth graders and I had a frank, tearful, and frightened discussion—

“Why?” they asked.

“They were sick people,” I said.

“They are evil people,” they said.

“Maybe,” I said, “they were sick, that is what I believe.  No well person does things like that.”

“Why did they do it?  What could they gain from doing that?”

“I do not know,” I said, “I do not know.”

“Can we get sick like them?”

“No,” I said, “Never.”

 

We held a long, trembling moment of silence.

We prayed openly for the victims and their families,

We prayed long and hard for the first responders and rescue workers,

We prayed for the dogs still sniffing for survivors,

We prayed it never happens again.

One student asked: “Should we pray for those who did this?”

“I don’t know,” I said, “Do whatever feels right for you.  There is no wrong prayer.

Your question is beautiful.”

And then one student, the smallest kid in the class,

With a voice that quivered like the branch of an autumn tree,

Said with holy conviction:

 

“If I were on those planes, I would have stopped those people—

I would have found a way.”

 

Later, we went out to the big field for recess,

Still looking towards the sky.

 

 

 

 

 

 


On the Love of Showers, Soap, Rubber Duckies, and Thirst Relief International

On the Love of Showers, Soap, Rubber Duckies,

And Thirst Relief International

By

Joseph Anthony

 

So I was
reading some P.G. Wodehouse (“Right Ho, Jeeves”) by candlelight a
couple days ago during one of the recent power outages here in Philly, and
there is a scene where Bertie Wooster (one of the goofball main characters) is
really down in the dumps.  He decides to
take a bath (“splash in the porcelain”) in order to lift his spirits, and it
works!  While doing so he even discovers
there is a rubber ducky in the tub, and his delight really takes off.  Here is how that scene reads:

“After
splashing about in the porcelain for a bit, composure began to return…I have
always found that in moments of heart-bowed-downness there is nothing that
calms the bruised spirit like a good go at the soap and water….The discovery
of a toy duck in the soap dish contributed not a little to this new and happier
frame of mind. What with one thing and another, I hadn’t played with toy ducks
in my bath for years, and I found the novel experience most invigorating. For
the benefits of those interested, I may mention that if you shove the thing
under the surface with the sponge and then let go, it shoots out of the water
in a manner calculated to divert the careworn.”

As in the
above snippet suggests, taking a bath or a shower is completely therapeutic in
the truest sense of the word.  Water is a
great healer, whether one is drinking a nice cool, glass of it or taking a
dip in the tub.  Water heals, refreshes,
invigorates, and cleanses.  And when you
add fragrant soap to the tub and shower, the whole effect is even more wonderful
and enjoyable.

Here’s a
secret that is now no longer a secret:  I
love soap.  Soap and water. And showers. 
Baths are good too.  Any kind of
water contact involving fragrant soap is a miracle.  Really. 
Now that the secret is out, allow me to further elucidate on the
subject.

When I was
growing up the only soap we had in the house was Ivory, which, back then,
smelled like well, a dull, yet somehow biting-block of lard.  Sometimes my mom ordered a bar from Avon
scented with musk or something, but in general, the soap fragrances back then
were limited.  Liquid soap for showers
became popular when I was about 10, but even then, the fragrances were nothing
too exotic—it was like showering with liquid dish-soap.

Today we can
shower with any fruit we want—pear, pineapple, strawberry, watermelon, pomegranate,
grapefruit, peach, blueberry, mango, citrus, cucumber, and more.  We can lather in vegetables, like carrots and
celery.  We can foam up with soaps
scented with almonds, pumpkins, honey, sandalwood, amber, vanilla, peppermint; and
flower essences like patchouli, lilac, clover, honeysuckle, and rose.  We can delight in spreading the rich lather
of cinnamon scented soap, or even chocolate scented soap. Soap making today is
an art form of the highest order (Check out my friend Vanessa’s website: she is one of those artists making [among other many wonderful things] soap): Nirvanaland Essentials).  Her soaps are amazing!

I tell
you the truth that taking a shower in the morning (or anytime) is one the
absolute best parts of my day. I always (and you know I don’t use the word “always”
very often, but in this case, it’s true) step out of a shower feeling like I’ve
been blessed, baptized by holy water—so ready to get on with the day.

The French poet, Francis Ponge, knew about the loveliness of water, and especially of soap.  He wrote a whole book-length prose-poem-meditation
about soap (one of my all-time favorite books for its sheer enthusiasm and adventurous
spirit) in the 1940’s.  Here is a little excerpt from
his book:

“There is something adorable in the
personality of soap.  Why adorable?  Because its behavior is at once the highest
degree appealing and completely inimitable. 
Here is a sort of mediocre pebble, flatly reposing in the plainest
saucer in the house.  A man comes in with
dirty hands.  Then the forgotten soap
gives itself up to him.  Not without some
coquetry.  It swathes itself in
glistening, iridescent veils and, at the same time, tends to vanish…no more
fugitive stone in nature. But then, the game exactly consists of holding it in
the fingers and chafing it, by the addition of a dose of water sufficient to
obtain a voluminous, pearly slobber, wheras if one left it to remain in the
water, it would perish in confusion.  For
soap has its particular dignity…it is a magic stone…the more it foams, with air
and water, clusters of scented grapes, it is explosive…water, air and soap
overlap, playing leapfrog…Yet it is necessary to return it to its saucer, to
its austere oval, its dry patience, and its power to serve again.”

For me
there is nothing like showering and lathering with soap that smells like
heaven.  It is a sensual and truly
self-affirming experience that I can’t recommend enough.  And it is an experience comprised of the
simplest ingredients: soap and water.

And speaking
of water, my friend Lefty has once again started a fundraising campaign with
Thirst Relief International and so any and all donations that come to the
Wonder Child Blog from this post (see the donation button below after the Ernie video) will be given directly to his campaign.  And for every $10 you donate he will donate
$5 until he’s reached the goal of $2,500. So for as long as this post in
online, any donations will go to Thirst
Relief International (TRI).  TRI is a
wonderful organization that helps provide clean, safe drinking water to the
nearly one billion people on our planet who have no access to any.  Of course, you can go directly to Lefty’s campaign
page and donate there too.  Click this sentence for the link.

Now please
don’t think this post was a big set up to try and make you feel guilty for
loving soap and water or for taking long, leisurely showers.  That was not my intention at all.  I love long, leisurely showers and have no
guilt for taking them whatsoever.  I
decided to add the fundraising piece to this post in hopes your love of water
and soap will be shared with others in a real and tangible way.  So have a splash in the porcelain and then donate
to Thirst Relief International.

Thank you
again for reading my friends.  You are
the bee’s knees. 

100% of all donations for this post will go to Thirst Relief International.  Thank you.




Copyright Joseph Anthony of the Wonder Child Blog


I Am Not a Computer, by Joseph Anthony

I Am Not a Computer

By

Joseph Anthony

 

“You must
unlearn what you have been programmed to believe since birth.  That software no longer serves you if you
want to live in a world where all things are possible.”

–Jacqueline
Purcell

Someone
posted this on my timeline recently and with no disrespect intended to its author, I was immediately struck with antipathy
towards it.  As I reflected on why, my
feelings became clearer, as I have had similar thoughts and feelings in the
past about such ideas.  I think I have
them clear enough to share. At least, I’ll try.

I am not a
machine.  My mind is not a computer.  I much prefer to imagine my mind as a garden,
a vast network of soil, herbs and flowers, whose roots mingle with yours and
with the Divine’s.  A place of beauty and
mystery, wonder and creativity, a rich tapestry of land with golden harvests of
possibilities where the fruits of meditation, discipline, and prayer blossom to
be shared and enjoyed by all.

And that’s
just the beginning, the poetic beginning. 
Every time we compare our minds with a computer we distance ourselves
from ourselves and the natural world around us.  And the space that occupies this distance
devolves into fears, superstitions, and apathy.

My mind is
not a hard drive.  My beliefs are not
software.  My mind is not
programmable.  To keep such analogies in
our mind’s eye makes us look at the world more impersonally, less human, less
feeling.  We are no longer responsible for ourselves.  After all, someone “programmed” us. And since computers can’t program themselves then we wait, victims, until someone solves our bugs.

As a garden,
any unwanted crops may be removed. 
Sometimes weeds need removal. 
Cultivating an inner garden stirs more of a sense of devotion and life
than having to defragment your mind to remove limited beliefs.  Cultivate the flowers you want.  Graft the trees of your imagination’s orchard
with those of like-minded friends.  Grow entirely
new fruits.  The flavors and nutrients of shared ideas are limitless. 

Some might
argue that I am being nitpicky.  Perhaps
I am.  However, I believe we believe what
we say to ourselves all day long.  I
understand computers mean so much to us in today’s world.  I am very grateful for them.  I am not anti-technology.  It’s just that metaphors and analogies are
made up of words and images and these are both living things.  What images and words do you want living in
your head, your heart, and your body?  Are
you a robot?  An automaton?

You might
not think this matters, but look around you. 
Look at people as they walk the streets, ride the bus, sit around tables
at restaurants.  We rarely look at each
other nowadays. We rarely listen.  Our
ears hold ear buds, our gaze is turned downwards at little screens.  This is all due, in part, to identifying
ourselves with these machines.  We always
want to be one with ourselves and those around us.  We instinctively seek union.  And we do that with what we feel drawn, close to,
like.  And if we identify with our minds
as being portable programmable computers and hard drives, then, of course, we
would look away from one another and towards the objects of our imaginations.  

Lastly, these mechanistic images lead us away
from intimacy with the earth.  They
depersonalize us and separate us further from the planet.  And that’s the last thing our dear Mother
Gaia needs.  She needs us touching her,
believing in her, healing her, nurturing her, helping her breathe.

This moment and
this earth are not virtual reality.  This moment
and this earth carry the essence of all that we are.  They are alive.  They are ever pregnant, ever giving birth, ever absorbing the seeds of new
ideas and inspirations. If we think of them as mechanized or computerized, we
will not want to touch them or become intimate with them.  We will move further and further away and
wonder why we are lonely.

So the next
time someone says your mind is like a computer, imagine it instead like a
garden, or an ocean, a lake, a field, or a forest.  Let these images draw you closer to yourself,
to the earth, and to others.  You will be
surprised at the beauty, the fragrance, and the infinite possibilities of
oneness that bloom and spread from such active, living imaginations.

PS: Not
everything we learned as children needs to be unlearned.  The majority of our lessons still benefit us,
even the painful ones.  Plant new
beliefs, cultivate new desires, weed out any that you no longer want, but if
you uprooted them all, well, you’d have an empty garden. 


“Metaphors are not to be trifled with. A single metaphor can give birth to love.” 

–Milan Kundera






Copyright Joseph Anthony of the Wonder Child Blog