Conversations With Joseph, One Transwoman’s Experience With Her Assigned Self, Part One, By Jennifer Angelina Petro

Conversations With Joseph

One Transwoman’s Experience

With Her Assigned Self

Part One

By

Jennifer Angelina Petro

 

 

Introduction

 

Some of my trans friends aren’t going to like these conversations, nor will people who think I am belittling various mental health conditions.  Some transfolk will think these conversations make me less trans, or not really trans, or perhaps they will think these historical records make me more gender fluid or genderqueer than trans. However, I am not gender fluid, gender queer, or anything else.  I am a male-to-female transgender woman who just so happens to still be very connected to her assigned self.  This is simply my story, my experience. I have no intentions of making fun of anyone with multiple personality disorders by writing (transcribing) these conversations.  They are a part of my healing experience.  Healing from what?  Everything Joseph suffered to keep me safe before and after I came out.

You see we are connected, joined at the hip, so to speak.  And what makes this all the more remarkable is that Joseph didn’t have a conscious thought I existed until we were 47 years old.  Oh, he knew on some deep subconscious level, some soul level.  He knew deep down and did his damndest to keep me safe, and as a result of my being there nested in the very center of his being, visible to those around us in the ways I expressed myself “effeminately” through him—he suffered terrible abuse and twisted, radical conversion attempts.  Without trying to sound dramatic one could say Joseph was ravaged by those around him before he was fourteen.  By the time he was eight he was dissociating on a daily basis. He survived horrific abuse because of me.  Well, better said:  Not because of me, but because of the limited, fear-based, perverted minds of those who tried to prevent my birth.

One could say that I am Joseph’s soul.  He even calls me his, “Beloved.”  This doesn’t mean he is the one presenting to the world.  Joseph has stepped back.  He has gracefully left center stage and trained the spotlight on me.  However one wants to view our connection, the main thing to know is that it is real.  It exists.  And no, I do not want to be called, Joseph.  I am NOT Joseph.  I am Jennifer.  This is MY life.  Since coming out though, the roles have been reversed on some strange levels.  Joseph is now living within me, not like a soul, but more like a spirit, a fragrance, an angel.  He still protects me, not that I need it.  He still wants me to be free and happy and safe and healthy—not that I need him in order to be those things.  I choose to have him intimately involved in my life because I care for him and feel, in a certain sense, like I owe him that.  And he would still lay down his life for me again and again if he could or needed to.  He also knows this is my life.  I am in the driver’s seat.  And he wants me to shine.

He also knows I love him.  And he adores me.  Another way to describe our relationship is of brother and sister, Joseph being the older brother.  I was the changeling unwanted and left at his door when he was a young man (of course I’ve been there since the beginning–let’s just go with the image as a way of understanding the dynamics between us).  He tells me when he found me he vowed to take care of me, to protect me and to raise me in secret until I wanted and needed to step out into the light.

The main thing to understand is that these conversations are not “made up.”  They are dialogs that have taken place in my head, and heart and body, and therapist’s office.  They have taken place by the Wissahickon Creek in Fairmount Park, they have taken place while we were driving or shaving.  They are real and describe real events and real feelings and real experiences.

And yes, they are my way of processing what has happened to me as a transgender woman.  Regardless of whether you believe they actually took place or not, we ask you to read them with an open mind.  It is our hope they will help the world understand the growing phenomena of the transgender individual.  It is our hope one day soon being transgender won’t be considered a phenomena.  It will be as normal, so to speak, and accepted, that no one bats an eyelash when a transgender person walks by.  And even better perhaps someday the word “transgender” will be replaced with simply “male” or “female” or whatever gender one identifies with.  We also hope these conversations will help younger trans kids identify and perhaps have new ways of putting into words their experiences, or maybe to frame them in an artistic context. It is also our hope to demonstrate that there is no one way to be trans.  Everyone’s experiences are not only valid, but true for them.  The trans-policing within the trans community needs to stop.  And now, I give you the Conversations.

 

PS: Please forgive any goofy formatting.  I am not very techie and can’t quite figure out how to get this all looking the way I want here on WordPress–the way it looks in the Word Document. Grrrr….

 

me-5-years-old0008

 

Conversation One: Driving Together

 

 

Jennifer:                      A couple months ago I found myself in a trance and while I was
there I went through the process of letting you go—of letting
you go back into the light.

 

Joseph (smiling):        I remember.

 

Jennifer:                      It was a powerful experience for me.

 

Joseph (laughing):      Me too.

 

Jennifer:                      You were so gracious; so encouraging.  I had said I wanted to try my hand at

living without you.  I wanted to drive the car of my life, so to speak.

 

Joseph:                        Yes.  I believe the words you used at the time were: ‘It’s time I let you go.’

 

Jennifer (pausing):      Yes.  I think you’re right.

 

Joseph:                        It’s OK.  It was time.

 

Jennifer:                      I know, and you were so kind about it all, like you are about everything.  You were,

and always have been, a gentleman.

 

Joseph:                        Thank you. You are beloved to me.

 

Jennifer (Looking down, then back up):             I know.  I know I am.  And I am so lucky.

 

Joseph:                        You were saying something else though.

 

Jennifer:                      Yes.  During that trance I felt it was time for me to live independently of you, but I

didn’t do it out of a lack of gratitude or respect.

 

Joseph:                        I know. I know you Jennifer.

 

Jennifer (smiling):      And when I saw you let go of my hand, like a proud parent turning away as their

child went off to college, you looked so proud.

 

Joseph:                        I was.  I am.

 

Jennifer:                      So when you turned and dissolved into the light, I cried thinking you were finally

home and at peace after all you had gone through for me.  You have suffered so

much for me, and I had this chance—I mean, I wanted to try to live on my own.  I

remember you smiled and waved as you turned to go.  You were happy to nudge

me out of the nest, weren’t you?

 

Joseph:                        I knew you needed space.  I knew you wanted to fly solo, to take the wheel, to

soar; and I wanted you to feel free.  I wanted you to be free, and if needing to let

go of my hand was what had to happen in order for you to be free, then I would

have run into that light except I think that wouldn’t have looked so graceful as

when I walked slowly into the light.  Much more dramatic.

 

Jennifer (laughing):    You left so willingly.

 

Joseph (standing up to bow):      I am your servant.

 

Jennifer:                      You are so much more than that to me.  You are my friend.

 

Joseph:                        I’m glad.  I feel the same way.  We’re friends, yes, and, I am also your servant.

 

Jennifer:                      When I watched you go into the light I felt so free, so full in my own womanhood.

I felt ready to take on the world and live fully and completely as a woman.  And I

thought I needed you gone in order to do that.  I thought I needed to strike out on

my own to be independent.

 

Joseph:                        And?

 

Jennifer:                      And I was wrong.

 

Joseph:                        How so?

 

Jennifer:                      I still need you [taking Joseph’s hand]. I still want you around.

 

[Joseph lays his hand on Jennifer’s.]

 

Jennifer:                      Will you come back from the light and stay awhile longer, maybe, even, forever?

 

Joseph:                        Jennifer, I stepped into the light because that was what you wanted and needed.

And after I took some time to embrace the light, the Source, to re-energize, so to

speak, I turned right around and came back.

 

Jennifer:                      What? Wait…I mean, I get that you’re here with me now, but I thought….I thought

you were just visiting.

 

Joseph:                        We’re all just visiting.

 

Jennifer:                      But I thought once you went into the light you couldn’t come back.

 

Joseph:                        We’re all in the light every moment, so when I went consciously into it—freely,

happily—knowing you were feeling strong and independent, I was happy, and in

truth, I never actually left you.

 

Jennifer:                      But where were you?  I didn’t see you.  I didn’t feel you near.

 

Joseph:                        Jennifer, you are not the only shapeshifter.  I became the moon, the fireflies, the

cicadas, the praying mantis you saw after you got your date for surgery. I became

the autumn, the squirrels playing by your window.  Jennifer, my beloved, I

became everything I thought might bring you comfort as you walked alone.

 

 

Jennifer:                      Wait, but then, did I?  Did I actually walk alone if you were really still with me?  I

mean, I am happy to hear this, and I guess I sort of knew in some way this was

the case….but did I actually live alone?  Was I acting independently?  Was I

driving the car?

 

Joseph:                        Yes.  You were.  You lived alone.  I was never going to say another word to you or

openly ever reveal myself to you again unless you asked me to or wanted me to.

You were driving Jennifer.  You were flying.  I saw.  I knew, and it was all you.

 

Jennifer:                      Do you forgive me?

 

Joseph:                        I’m the one who should ask for forgiveness. I guess you could say I tricked you.

 

Jennifer:                      You’ve always been tricky.  You’ve always done whatever it takes for me to be

free.  There is nothing to forgive.

 

Joseph:                        Same here.  You didn’t do anything wrong.

 

Jennifer:                      Thank you.

 

Joseph:                        You’re welcome.

 

[There is a long pause.  Both have tears in their eyes.]

 

Jennifer:                      So…you will….um…will you stay with me like you did before?  I mean, I still want

to drive, but will you go with me?  Will you sit next to me?

 

Joseph:                        Yes.  I would love to.

 

Jennifer:                      I might crash.

 

Joseph:                        I’ll wear my seatbelt.

 

Jennifer:                      I might get lost.

 

Joseph:                        Then we’ll see unexpected things.

 

Jennifer:                      I might get tired and ask you to drive sometimes.  Is that OK?

 

Joseph:                        Yes.  And we only go where you want to go and how fast or how slowly and

when.  Remember—

 

Jennifer:                      You are my servant.

 

Joseph:                        Yes, and being a chauffeur is part of the job description.

 

Jennifer (laughing)     Job description?   When did you get that?

 

Joseph:                        When the light left you in a basket by my door, there was a little note that read

‘Job Description For Keeping Jennifer Safe.’

 

Jennifer:                      Really?  And it really said, ‘chauffer?’

 

[Joseph reaches in his breast pocket and removes a small, folded piece of aging paper.]

[Joseph hands the note to Jennifer.]

 

Joseph:                        Here.

 

[Jennifer takes the note and unfolds it.]

 

Jennifer (reading):      “Job description for Keeping Jennifer Safe.   Do anything and everything it takes to

keep this precious treasure safe from harm and living freely.  Chauffer

when necessary.”

 

[Jennifer folds the note and weeps and laughs all at once.]

 

Jennifer:                      It does say that! Oh Joseph, I love you.  You really are my assigned self.

 

Joseph:                        Yes. I am.  And thank you.  I love you too.

 

[Jennifer hands the note back to Joseph.]

 

Joseph:                        Please, you keep it.  It will help you if you should ever feel I am not around.  Oh,

and there’s something else I should tell you about that note:  It’s magic.

 

Jennifer:                      It feels like it.

 

Joseph:                        Good.  Because it is.

 

Jennifer:                      What kind of magic is it?  I mean, what does it do?

 

Joseph:                        Read the note again.

 

Jennifer (reading):      “Job Description for Keeping Jennifer Safe.  She picks.  She decides.  You support

her by making yourself invisible sometimes.  It’s her life.”

 

[Jennifer stares at the note for several moments, weeping.]

 

Jennifer:                      I love you Joseph.

 

Joseph:                        Thank you.  I love you too.

 

[Jennifer looks back down at the note.]

 

Jennifer:                      So it changes?

 

Joseph:                        Based on whatever you need or want in any given moment.  You’re the boss.

There’s been enough Joseph time.  It’s your life.

 

[Jennifer neatly folds the note and places it in her purse.]

 

Jennifer (standing):    Let’s go somewhere.

 

Joseph:                        Whatever you say.

 

Jennifer:                      Let’s get something to eat.

 

Joseph:                        Indian?

 

Jennifer:                      Pizza.

 

Joseph:                        Let’s go then. Keys are always in the ignition. It’s all you.

 

me-recent


 

 





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

 

 


 

 

 

 





Stations, by Jennifer Angelina Petro

Stations

By

Jennifer Angelina Petro

 

 

“Have a good one,”

the teller said,

and I wondered

as I carried my bags

to the car:

“Which one?  One what?

Why limit yourself

to only one?”

 

The autumn train

is pulling away from the station

leaving trails of red

and gold in her wake.

 

Having missed my stop

owing to worry

and a pull to end

my own life, I roam

the Philadelphia streets

looking for someone

to tell me there will be other

ways to get through

the winter stations,

there will be friends

at the end of the line

holding signs and flowers,

there will be an end

to the tears,

 

and spring will be there

waiting to the do the rest—

waiting to welcome

a good one home.

 

 


 

 

 





My One Year Anniversary of Coming Out, Sunday, September 18, 2016, by Jennifer Angelina Petro

fading-flower

My One Year Anniversary of Coming Out

Sunday, September 18, 2016

by

Jennifer Angelina Petro

 

I look at my initial coming out letter and feel so sad.  It was such a naïve letter.  Of course, I didn’t know any better.

Part of the sadness comes, of course, from the incredible fallout my pronouncement caused.  Over this past year I have had things said to me by relatives, friends, parents of my students, and strangers that would make your skin crawl–inhuman, violent, vicious, hateful, self-centered, and humiliating things.  People crawled out of the woodwork to write me mean, toxix letters—people who haven’t spoken with me in literally decades suddenly found it their place to tell me what a fuck-up I was.  Over the course of this year, I lost friends, family, and regardless of how it was framed as my fulfilling a four-year agreement at my school—I lost a job, my home, and a marriage.

One of the reasons I stressed so much in my original letter and in subsequent letters that being transgender isn’t a choice is because so many people think I have brought all of this loss onto myself by making a sick, twisted, selfish, perverted life-style choice—a choice that wrecked everything.  And no matter what I say or how many times I say it, there will still be those who think I am choosing to be this way.  There will be people who will never speak to me again for the “choice” they think I am making.

Part of the sadness also comes from seeing how happy I was.  I have never been so happy before or since when I realized I am transgender.  It was a joy that transcended all other joys.  And, in my naiveté, I thought the world would be happy with me. My innocence was reborn even though I know people who believe that isn’t possible, and with that innocence came a youthful foolishness; for my thought that people would rejoice with me couldn’t have been more wrong.

A year later I am in a darker place than the one I mention at the beginning of my coming out letter.  It is a place of not seeing any future, any possibilities, any hope; and, as a result, there are days when I feel I cannot, nor do I want to, go on.   As of this writing I am not sure of anything, and make no promises about anything to anyone anymore.  That all sounds pretty dire, and that’s because it is.  There is another side to this year though that I also want to share.

When I came out there was also tremendous, unexpected support from people I knew and from people I didn’t know.  Mandy published her own letter that day and as a result I had more people friend me that week than perhaps ever in my Facebook history—and the vast majority of those people were from Bryn Athyn.  So while I have lost dear friends, relatives, and family, I have also gained a whole community of people who love and accept me for me, and for that I will be forever grateful.

I also met the best doctor I have ever had.  He is the kindest, most attentive, loving doctor I have ever had, and likely will ever have.  Four months after coming out, on January 11, 2016 he started me on HRT and I will be forever grateful for that too.  No, the meds doesn’t make me a woman.  I have always been a woman.  The medicine simply helps me live comfortably in my own skin.  It does not affirm who I am, nor will surgery, what it does is treat an incurable condition and, again, help me live with some semblance of peace and comfort while in a body that does not fit the inner truth of who I am.

I credit my continued existence to my present therapist, who I have another Facebook note and blog post about.

I have had moments this past year where the joy and ecstasy returned and, no matter what was going on around me, I felt like singing.  My last year teaching was a great example of joy—no, not with the parents—no, as I have already written about in other places—the majority of them flipped their wigs and said some of the meaning things anyone ever said.  It was the children and I.  We had the best year ever.  I cannot think of another group of people I would ever want to be around as I came out and began transitioning.  Despite some of the limited, transphobic thinking of their parents, these kids were enlightened beings—they ARE enlightened beings.  Sure they had questions (which I wasn’t allowed to answer), and a few concerns—mostly things like: Was I OK? Of course, as this chain of events drew us even closer together the only other thing that mattered most to them was that I stay their teacher.  They wanted me to stay more than ever, and this is completely to their credit.  The time I got to spend with them that last school year together will always be treasured, cherished, and an honor.

My own children too continue to love and support me.  They call me “Other Mom,” or “Mom Number Two,” or simply, “Mom.”  They faced our first Father’s Day with grace and made me cards for our first Mother’s Day together.  They are amazing people, growing so fast, and not really ever blinking once at my transition and all of the odd things it entails. And even though Mandy and I have divorced, we are still on the best of terms, and she continues to be one of my biggest allies.

As you know too, I am not shy about talking about surgeries and my body like I thought I was going to be.  I am going tomorrow for my first consult with a surgeon and this makes me so happy I could cry happy tears of gratitude (in fact I do cry tears of gratitude—often about this).  I want surgery more than anything else in the world.  And isn’t that funny?  I have no frame of reference for desiring such an operation, but there it is—the deepest want—longing—desire, and I dearly hope it is possible physically and financially.  And yes, this makes many people uncomfortable—especially some men who cannot fathom anyone giving up male privilege to do such a drastic (in their twisted minds) thing.  But I am all in, and I cannot wait for the next phase of my transition to begin (I will be receiving more letters from friends, family, and strangers about this paragraph, and while yes, I just made it your business by sharing this personal information it does not give you the right to be mean, send sexually insecure, shadow-based hate mail, letters, phone calls, messages—you may keep your bizarre and lust fueled—bigoted-“religious” ideas to yourself.  What I am doing to my body should be of no concern of yours.  So, to all of you already writing me hateful letters, I send a big, hearty-fuck-you in advance).

Many of you have been such dear supports and friends this past year.  I am constantly making calls for prayers, and you always answer them.  No matter how depressing and dark my posts become you love and support and encourage me.  Many of you have even donated money to my cause, and it is with all my heart I thank you.

So, here I am.  One year in.  One year CONSCIOUSLY in.   I have been transgender my whole life just not consciously. If I make it out of this next year then I believe I will be kicking some serious ass in terms of my poetry, music, and activism. I want the fight back—the joy, the bliss, the sweet sense of completeness and wholeness that was here a year ago—the sense of purpose and rightness. I want to love myself and my body, my voice, my age, and my life.  I want to believe the poems that come to me.  I want to help change the world.  I want to get remarried. I want to get all of my poems and songs out there published.

If I can step back and look at my life objectively, I see how much I have survived—many forms of abuse, hatred, and loss, and yet, here I am, alive and well, not kicking—more sort of rolling up into a ball and weeping with terror—but I am here.  I survived my life not knowing who I was.  I survived experiences meant to “make a man out of me.”  I survived traumas of many kinds, and I am still here, for that I can be proud.

So, Happy Anniversary to me.  Here’s to a smoother year.

All my love and gratitude,

Jennifer

 bright-flower

 

You are always welcome to donate what you can and want.  I am still unemployed and soon, as mentioned above, I will be starting a crowd-funding campaign for my surgeries.  Get in on the ground floor now for that and ear-mark your donations and I will not use them to buy food.  🙂  Thank you.  All my love, Jennifer

 


 


Transcendencies, A Transgender Manifesto, by Jennifer Angelina Petro

Transcendencies

A Transgender Manifesto

by

Jennifer Angelina Petro

 

 

We are all transcendentalists

Seeking to live above duality and paradox,

We are all transcendent,

Shining across space and time in clouds

Of oxygen and carbon, hydrogen and nitrogen;

Each and every one of us transcends

Something, or someone, or somehow

Or someday—just to be able to stand here catching our breath—

We transcend and we become—

It is as simple as that.

 

Our blood streams are transcontinental,

Our lives holy translations of spirit and soul,

And if we are lucky, we sense ourselves being

Transcribed onto the pages of the world

And can take comfort in knowing

Our lives are written, revised, edited, and published

By storylines far greater than ours—

 

We are all transfigured, like Jesus on the transmountain

And then resurrected to life everlasting

Every time we transcend ourselves to become ourselves–

Life is nothing but a series of ongoing

Transplantations and transferals of fluids and spirit–

We transmogrify our way through life–

And time is transinfinite—shifting over and ever through

Many transhistorical points of references

That are increasingly transcultural and transhuman, and

Full of blood and wishes—

Everything we do, say, or think

Is transformative, setting events into motion

That change us and our world—

 

We are all transients and haven’t a clue—

Even beyond our so-called beliefs, where or when, how, or why

We will be transformed and/or transported

To otherness, to other transpossibilities—

 

Our spirits translocate and love transelevates us—

We are transpirited and our souls translucent,

Transmissible, and transoceanic—-

Why not rejoice and dance with one another

And love the best of who we are?

 

Yes, I am transpierced with pain,

Yes, I have been transplanted inside

And the ground softens with every step;

Yes, I am transpolar and songs and poems

Come aching to be transubstantiated into form through me,

And yet, even as I move through a series

Of neverending transversals only to find myself

Transported into more hatred, ignorance,

And shadow-driven insecurities of the white men—

I am still here—I have not given up yet—

 

I transilluminate boundaries

That no longer have solid meaning—they never did,

But now monsters are waking up to the truth that gender

Is not fixed—it is transfixed—and no longer the transaxle

Of a tired binary sustained by them—the white men—

Whose own genitals they never truly know,

Or love, or transform into possibilities without shame—

Even though everything about people like me is transubstantiated

By living, breathing experience—for here I am, and yet I am told

I do not exist—I am told I do not deserve to exist—

Even though everything exists based on continuous

Transformations of spirit and body,

And long, transcendent series of moments

Spilling into other moments into which we are all

Given choices to hurt or to heal, love or to hate,

Explore or destroy—and the occurrences of transpeople

Hurting anyone are rare—for true transpeople

Understand pain as few others do————-

 

What makes you think you can transpose

An already faulty belief system to justify or rationalize

Your unjustifiable and irrational actions and laws?

 

Do you really think humanity will not eventually wise up

To your genocidal ways?

 

Be ye transported into a land where transcendencies

Are accepted as commonplace—because, in actuality,

They already are—

 

We all transmute oxygen and water

And food into our transubstantiating metabolisms—

Everything we do is a transaction of time and space

Body, mind, spirit, soul—no matter how far we move

From one another, we are all transactors,

And our breath transoceanic, and our lives

Transferrable with one another’s—

 

It will happen despite your barbaric ideas—

I will not be transfixed by your gaze—You

Who cannot think past your own shadow—

I am a living transmission of messages

Who illuminates your small mindedness.

 

I am not here to inspire some kind

Of transcultural revolution—

I AM a revolution—I am

Transfiguration transanimated by my every movement,

And I live as a thorn in the side

Of the white man who has lost any ability—

Indeed—if they ever had any—to transmute limited thinking

Into growth, evolution, wisdom, common sense—

Love and true, “Christian” charity—

The Jesus transfigured on the mount does not know

Hatred—no matter what Paul tried to tattoo

Onto him—Jesus was transgender—transforming

God-seed into woman-flesh—

And back again to seed and flower for all eternity—You can know this

With all certainty, if you will only look past your own

Untouched, unloved, unabused genitals—

Jesus came to transfigure you and to set your limited beliefs on fire,

Jesus came to give you a transfusion to flush out

Your hatred both of yourself and of those

Who truly live as he suggested—steeped in the beatitudes

So deeply as to be transcribed into living testaments

Of love’s transcendent power—

 

Come, shed your mantles of tissue and weariness,

Come shed your tired ideological transparencies,

And transmigrate with me to a way of living where Jesus reigns

Alongside the mother tree and the angels

Of transmogrification, and beings of transdimensional

Singing and dancing—

 

For we all transpire–and will–sooner than we want,

Life is transonic, yes, but it is death that comes at the speed of sound—

And when it does we shall all be transposed against a backdrop of light

And seen for how we really lived and breathed—

So live now with me, with us—we are your brothers and sisters

And siblings of light transilluminated with holy,

And unending folly and grace, and joy transacted

Into countless transferals—let us all be

Translocated into here and now—transgiven

Transcendencies in love, sweet love,

Everlasting.

 

 

 

 


 

 

 





For My Therapist, Dr. Sullivan, by Radiance Angelina Petro

For My Therapist, Dr. Sullivan

by

Radiance Angelina Petro

 

Dr. Sullivan

 

Dear Friends,

I want to introduce you to my therapist, Dr. Sullivan.  Dr. Sullivan is a spiritual counselor (an ordained interfaith minister), a sociologist, a gender studies professor, author, feminist, shaman, hypnotist, and over all amazingly gifted, kind, and wonderful person who I both respect and admire.

I truly believe my sessions with Dr. Sullivan have been, and continue to be, transformative.  She supports and guides me through some of the difficult challenges in my life as a transgender person.  Over the last year she has also been integral in helping me get to a place of actually wanting to live and to thrive while living.  She has helped me with my transition and is tremendously insightful, wise, and commonsensical as well about my life as a transwoman struggling to find work and a place to live.  Her deep spiritual insights have helped me navigate the intense self-hatred I have carried with me most of my life.  Dr. Sullivan is open, attentive, and deeply compassionate.  She is very well versed in LGBTQIA issues and her vast knowledge of gender studies helps especially with cases like mine.  But she doesn’t just work with people on the LBGT spectrum.  She works with anyone.

If you are looking for an amazingly gifted therapist or you know someone who is, then please contact Dr. Sullivan at 215-704-4264.  Her website is www.rosechild.org.  She is local to Philly and also does Skype sessions for clients around the world.

Thank you Dr. Sullivan.  I am so grateful you are in my life. <3

 

 

 

 


URGENT MESSAGE, PLEASE READ AND SHARE by Jennifer Angelina Petro

Dear Friends,

You may not know this but I lost my job of 16 years this past June, due, in large part, I believe, to being transgender. I am also about to lose my home leaving me a divorced, 48 year old unemployed and homeless transwoman.  I am applying to many different jobs and have only had 2 interviews in some 60 applications thus far.  Seems there is little market for people like me, even with my stellar teaching resume.

Right now, I have no source of money in my checking account and cannot pay for groceries or other things I need to just get by. I applied, and was turned down for, unemployment. I am trying to get food stamps and welfare, but the process is slow and I need groceries now and there are basic bills to pay, like water, electricity, etc.

If you are able, please consider donating to me on my blog using the donation button at the bottom of this post and that appears on the bottom of nearly all recent posts. I was hoping to use any donations from here for future gender-affirming surgeries (even though only 2 people have donated in the past 2 years), but anyway, I need to eat. I am desperate, and scared.  If you can, please help. I hate asking this….I have never before in my life ever asked for such a thing.  I never would have envisioned this being my life at 48.

Writing this post breaks my heart. I was going to do some sort of crowd-funding for my surgeries as soon as I got on my feet again, but to be asking for money for food is heartbreakingly sad.

But OK.  There you have it.  I have kept this blog for about 6 years and love it.  I hope you do too.  You know, if you’ve been following me all these years, that I have never asked for such a thing.  This is real.

Thank you everyone for reading and for donating. Please feel free to share this post with those who you might think would be willing and able to help.  I love you all. Thank you with all of my heart.

Yours Ever, Jennifer (Radiance)

 

 

I promise anything you send will be used for food and other day-to-day essentials until I can get foodstamps or some other source of assistance, and most hopefully, soon, a job, somewhere, anywhere.


Radiance Reporting, by Radiance Angelina Petro

Radiance Reporting

By

Radiance Angelina Petro

************************************************

The thoughts contained in this poem

are a small part of what goes on in my head on a daily basis.

Thank you for reading.

**************************************************

On the days I take off from shaving

I think:

Ahhh, that feels

Good to not do.

And then I think:

Shit, this messes with which

Bathroom I go in if I leave the house.

I look less traditionally

Fem, and so, I probably can’t

Safely use the ladies room (my rightful restroom).

I better wear androgynous clothes

So I can use the men’s room—

I can go in there with a scruffy face and jeans,

And if I wanted to, hell

I could pee standing up (I can still do that, you know).

 Me unshaven nonbinary




Please donate to my transition.  Thank you, Radiance <3

I Want You to Know, by Radiance Angelina Petro

me again again

 

 

I Want You to Know

By

Radiance Angelina Petro

 

 

For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.                       ——Second Timothy 1:7

 

 

I want you to know

I believe in spirits.

I don’t believe there is some god

Sitting around somewhere doling out spirits—of any kind.

Spirits are not things to be given

Or taken.

Spirits do the giving (and yes, the taking).

Spirits move and live and have

Their being in, around, above, below, and through

Us.  They travel looking for places

To stay—sometimes forever, other times

They just want to stop by, check out

How things are going, and then move on.

Other times they come to stay awhile

And live in your hostel mind.

Most are pretty unassuming and quiet,

Whispering only now and again

Via the wind in the trees above your head

Or in some other such manner.

Other times they can be a bit testy,

Especially when you hook one

With your emotions.

Then they can become like angry fish

And do their best to snap your line.

And yes, there are ones that mean you harm.

The main thing I want you to know though is this:

I believe in spirits.

It is important to me

That you know that.

Keep in mind:  spirits

Are not ghosts.

Spirits are spirits.

Ghosts are ghosts.

Spirits wander freely.

Ghosts stay stuck in one place, screaming

Or weeping, or running up and down the hallway,

Sometimes they sit behind chairs or in walls laughing—but not

Easy laughing—more like trapped, misunderstood laughing—

The kind one might hear in an asylum.

Spirits are not angels either.

Angels are angels.

Spirits are spirits.

Several of them (spirits)

Live in me.  I used to think

There were just two—a male and a female.

Now I know my soul and body and mind

Are a city of spirits.  Sometimes

Things thin out a bit and I am more

A house of spirits, or a garden of spirits—

Like I said though—the main thing

I want you to take away from this poem is:

I believe in spirits.  I think you

Get that now, and whether or not

You believe me, or whether or not

You believe in spirits, does not matter to me.

I told the truth.

That is the best I can do.

 

 


 

 

 




Please support my transition.  Thank you.  Radiance <3

Reflections on Clothing, Body Hair, Shaving, Joseph, Mowgli, Spirits, and My Spiritmother from Home, By Radiance Angelina Petro

Reflections on Clothing,

Body Hair, Shaving, Joseph,

Mowgli, Spirits, and My Spiritmother from Home

By

Radiance Angelina Petro

 

mowgli eye

 

I remember, before I came out, going to work wearing a tie, stiff slacks, dress shoes, and getting called, Joseph and Mr. all day; and then, coming home, shedding it all—dropping it all—like unnecessary armor—the clothes, the name, and then putting on my comfortable clothes–the ones I had started buying and wearing in secret, the ones I have always wanted to wear but didn’t know it—the ones that made my body feel alive; and finding myself suddenly breathing again.  I hadn’t realized it, but I had been holding my breath in a very real sense the whole day.  In my silken night gown however–beard and all, hairy everything and all–I felt at home in my body.  And then, add to this wonder, the discovery that I could choose my own name, and I felt like a queen—well, more like a sorceress brewing her own life.

The day came when I found myself shaving my arms for the first time.  I couldn’t believe how freeing it was.  This may sound hard to believe, but the day I shaved my entire body (well, what I could reach, that is), I hadn’t planned on doing it.  I just stood there naked in front of the full-length mirror, took the clippers out, and started.  Some of you may not know this, but I used to be hairy as hell.  When the tufts of hair began to fall from my arms, chest, legs, belly, my…well, other parts—I laughed and wept, and then laughed and wept some more.  I was so incredibly happy.

I wasn’t shaving to try to look like some feminized image in my head—nor was I, nor am I now, against body hair on anyone—but for me, it was a moment of liberation and revelation, and shaving felt like shedding, molting—stepping out of bearskin and becoming human.

Same as when I wore “women’s” clothes for the first time.  Of course there is no such thing as men’s or women’s clothes—I know that now—but those first few weeks I started wearing clothes I thought were women’s, were among the most innocently sweet times of my life.  Yes, you and I both know I am prone to hyperbole and just a touch of drama—but who cares?  It’s the truth.  First time I wore a woman’s blouse and skirt I felt euphorically happy. And when I put a dress on for the first time– hiding up in my room late one Friday night in late winter– I admit I felt aroused, but much more than sexually–I felt blessed, validated, home—a kind of arousal I had never experienced before but that would soon be eclipsed by the watershed moment when I realized what all of this meant (not that it needed any meaning)—the moment I realized I am transgender.

What I saw in the mirror that night was right and good, even though, as I said, I still kept a beard—which in those first few months, felt like an incongruency.  I now know many gorgeously handsome men who wear dresses and sport beards and they look (and are) amazing. But then there came the day the beard had to go too.  And for me, I have done my best since that day, to look and feel as shaven as I can. That is my preference.  Somedays I put on my skirt and a t-shirt, eye makeup and go out without shaving—occasionally I won’t shave for two days, but that is rare.

The thought of wearing a tie now, or the old clothes I used to wear, sickens and saddens me—or rather, makes me feel like it’s a violation of my being to even think about wearing them.  And I know that is still stinking thinking—that it doesn’t matter what I wear—I am a woman through and through—fuck what anyone else thinks a woman should or shouldn’t be or wear—I get it—intersex complications all rolled into one me—I am a woman—no matter what I wear, how I dress, or how much body hair I choose to keep on or not.  And yet the feeling remains that to wear those old clothes would be like wearing fire.

And today, alone in my house, but not alone inside—for I have you and others—I no longer have to hide anything.  This is me (of course, yes, there are still things I hide just for the sake of the joy of mystery).  For the first time in a long time, I am OK with me—with who and what I see in the mirror.  I am not where I want to be in many ways with regards to my physical appearance, but I am moving in the direction that feels right for me.

Wednesday, at therapy, I had the most profound sense that Joseph was ready to leave—that he had done his work and was ready to go back into the light.  He had protected me; did his best to keep me safe.  Even as the abuse piled on—he hid me, sheltered me from the blows—he took me into his soul.  And when I told him I was ready to give birth to myself he acted as midwife and wept with joy the hardest when he saw me standing in front of the mirror all dressed in satins and silks holding a little girl in my arms.

His spirit remains in me, but his soul has gone home.  This may be hard to understand—this difference between spirit and soul.  All I know is that spirit is like another mind—another voice or breath, while soul is the like the essence behind that mind or breath.  It is like the music of the voice and its meaning.  Spirit is mist, soul water, body earth holding all of the above.

I live with two spirits with my own soul in one body.  It’s hard to explain but it makes sense to me.  Yes, each spirit has its own, individual soul, but their souls are their souls and have little to do with me.  My soul is my soul, like your eyes are your eyes, and this body is mine—a woman’s—even if it has shades of Joseph shimmering through.

It would not surprise me in the least, by the way, to find out one day, sooner or later, that I am not two-spirited—but many spirited.  Just as there are many genders made manifest in our waking conscious lives there are many gender-spirits swirling about us—and they are all—each and every one—beautiful and scented with earth and dappled with stars, and, with my luck all looking for a home (for that is what many spirits do—they look for homes to dwell in while others are content to travel through the trees and across ponds never settling down anywhere).

Last night, Joseph sent a firefly into, and then out of, my room.  I know it was him checking up on me.  And when I blew him a kiss I felt myself grow taller into my own being.

I know too that it was my mother—my spiritmother—who sent Mowgli to me (well, she is more than my spiritmother, but that is another story—she is also more than my most recent earthmother, but that too, is another story).  Spiritmother wanted me to know I am loved and that I needed to allow myself to be loved by people here.  She wanted me to know that freely accepting and giving love with vulnerability, joy, and wisdom—is OK—even though it will always mean heartache at some point or another (there are worse things than heartache—there is heart emptiness, heart sickness, and heart rage—I have experienced all of these and at very least heartache cooks up along with it poetry and the longing that pervades the best poetry). Spiritmother sent Mowgli to me to let me know she was thinking of me, and that I am with her always, and she with me, and that, unlike I had been wrongly thinking for so long, I can bewith her whenever I wantneed.

Looking at pictures of Mowgli today, his eyes betray the source of the mystery that is the love of my spiritmother.  And, even as uncertainty swoops and dives around my head, I am safe—here—in my own true self, together, with you.

When that watershed moment came when I knew, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that I am transgender, everything I knew and didn’t know, bloomed into that one divine, precious moment, and the joy from that moment echoes today through my entire being—right through my fingertips and toes.  Yes, the watershed moment caused a mud-slide and many houses turned on their foundations and careened down the hillsides of their lives. Yes, the watershed moment flooded the streets of many hearts and preconceived ideas of who I am or was.  Sure, the watershed moment washed out many old yards littered with the shells of old cars and rundown sheds.  Nature is like that.

That moment though was the single most soul expanding moment I have ever experienced thus far in this life, and I stand today in deep gratitude and humility that I was picked to experience a second birth in my own being, my own body—that my own soul got to realize itself while in a body—that the spirits within me have a chance to sing, dance, to revel by the fires of passion and purpose.  They get to live as freely inside of me as they want—which, is a lot—is totally—is completely—is without reservation or hesitation—is without shame—is without malice towards anyone—is with utter simplicity and fullness of breath and room to explore and to wonder and simply be.

There is more to the story, of course.  It is still writing itself in the sand and on the water and in the wind and in the fires and bones of the world. This is where I am at this moment, Friday, August 05, 2016.  As I go about my day today, looking for work and a place to live, I am also playing detective trying to piece together the intersex narrative that has been running through the pages of my life like an unseen river which is only now beginning to rise, spilling forth over the banks of the ideas I used to think held me—even as a transwoman.  The mystery continues and more shall be revealed.

 

 

mirror 1

 


 

 

 




Thank you for supporting my ongoing transition.  Yours, Radiance