September 18, 2015, Coming Out As Transgender, by Jennifer Angelina Petro

Dear Friends,
Many of you know I suffered mightily with deep depression this past year. It was undoubtedly the darkest period of my life. That debilitating time however, has given birth to the greatest joy I have ever experienced—a self-revelation that has turned my world right-side-up and inside out, in the most unexpected and utterly joyous ways—a joy so remarkable I can barely contain it. My insides have come into focus in a way that I now see my life with more clarity than ever before . Who I am as a person—a soul—an individual has finally, after all these years of heart wrenching—gut-churning work—soul-searching, and spiritual–psychological exploration—revealed itself to me. And I tell you here and now I have never been so happy, so grateful to be alive, so full of wonder and possibilities.
I am transgender, a male-to-female-transsexual. I have had this condition since I was born, only in my case, due to various childhood experiences, I didn’t consciously know it. However, my spirit and my body were always at odds with one another and I couldn’t figure out why. I have suffered for decades with a deep inward confusion– knowing something wasn’t right inside–in my heart, body, mind—but not understanding what it was. I tried hard to be man, and in many ways succeeded, but something has always been wrong–off, unsettled, and I didn’t know what it was until this past spring. It has all fallen into place in a way that not only makes sense but is incredibly beautiful, and I am over-the-moon happy, relieved, grateful, and eager to fully embrace this realization in every way I can.
Some of you might be surprised at this pronouncement, while others not so much. Please know that there were many of you I wanted to tell individually, but logistically, just couldn’t. Please forgive the impersonal nature of coming out on Facebook and my blog. It’s the best I could do.
You have to take my word for it, of course, that I am transgender. There is no way I can convince you that I am telling the truth, especially to those of you who have known me for many, many years as a male-bodied person named, Joseph. I did not ask to be transgender though. This is not a choice I am making. This is a medical condition where there is no real “cure.” There is treatment however, and that takes the form of transitioning, over time, with the help of hormone therapies, surgeries, as well as many other outward and inward procedures and actions that effect the outward body to better enable it to match my inward spirit.
Once I discovered being transgender I chose to continue pretending to be the Joseph everybody knew because I was afraid of the consequences of coming out and living the truth—consequences to my family, to my school, and to my relationships with you. I chose to hide—hide who I am out of fear. I am done hiding. I am being released from prison. I am free to roam and to celebrate a whole new life of the conscious awareness of who I am.
Yes, I know, I have fathered 3 sons and been married over 20 years. I had to buy into my masculine body—my masculine presentation and gender constructs—I had to for reasons I will not get into here. But no more. I am a woman and I am deeply grateful to this body for carrying me so far and for the work it still needs to do. But I am a woman and will no longer hide the real me.
Please try to understand this is not a choice I am making. I was born this way—right gender, wrong body parts. I am not “doing” anything except finally living the way I was always meant to live—as a woman. I am not doing this to “take Joseph away from you.” I will always be the same old me—the same personality. You are not losing anyone, yet you are gaining the most settled, authentic me I have ever known—I am myself. You are gaining me—the real me.
As I write this I feel conflicted—like I am talking about my own funeral while still alive, and there is some strange truth to this sensation. The bigger truth however—the one that encompasses all others, is that I am being born. I am coming to life in a way I didn’t know was possible. Maybe my poetry did—but I didn’t see this coming, and dear hearts, I am deeply happy, peaceful, centered, aware, and, yes, scared. This is all new. I feel at once empowered and vulnerable and want your acceptance, affirmation, and love. I also know that I must and will carry on regardless of what anyone says or thinks. I accept myself for who I really am. I love who I am and who I am becoming. I am beautiful. And yes, I would like your acceptance. I want you to know this is the true me. This is how I was meant to be—this is who I am–a woman. And I know there will be many challenges and difficult times ahead, but my joy supersedes those worries. I am blessed. And yes, it will take many of you time to get used to this. You’ll make it though. I believe in you. As I seek to truly join my spirit and my body we will go on a wonderful and scary journey together. I will do my utmost to be patient with your transitions as they reveal themselves in relationship to mine.
That said, there are some things I would like to ask of you as we begin a dialog that might, perhaps, last years. I ask these things not out of disrespect for you, but out of an attempt to preserve the energy I am going to need in order to go forward. There are a few topics I want you to not ask me about, and I ask you to vigilantly hold these boundaries for my sake. No one’s curiosity gives them the right to ask questions that cross a line of appropriateness and since most of us know little about transgender issues, and struggle with what they feel they should know or what they want to know about my condition I am offering these boundaries.
I am unwilling to discuss whether or not I am considering having “the” operation. While being trans is rather uncommon, I am not an exhibit. In the same way I would never ask you how your genitals look or if you’ve ever had enhancements or implants or any other type of sexual related surgeries, I request you not ask me such about things.
Please do not ask me about my sex life. Please do not ask me how, or if, I have sex. This is all, obviously, private.
Please do not assume this is a horrible, wretched thing I am “doing” to my family. Again, this is not a lifestyle choice.

If you want to talk with my family about this experience, please do not approach the topic under the assumption that they must be suffering. Instead you could simply ask them how they are doing and be genuinely open to their answers.
Please direct any questions you may have about me to me, and do not go through my family to find out about me.
Finally, I want you to know that I am sure about this—I am transgender. I am a woman, so you needn’t ask me if I am sure, or if I am sure I’m sure. I have never been so sure of something in my life.
I also want to briefly dispel a couple of assumptions that may be out there about transgender people.
The first thing is I am not a drag queen. A drag queen is a man performing as a woman—often men wearing flamboyantly “feminine” clothes or makeup. That is not me. I am transgender. I am not performing. I am living a real life.
I am also not a transvestite, for whom wearing “women’s” clothes is somewhat of a fetish—a sexually charged behavior. That is also not me. While I feel a tremendous sense of liberation wearing the women’s clothes I now wear, it is not a fetish—it is an affirmation, confirmation, celebration of my womanhood.
Lastly, transgender people can be gay, straight, pan, asexual, etc. just like anyone else.
While I know most of you will respond to this letter with kindness and grace some of you may have objections—perhaps “religiously” or “morally,” to what is happening to me, please do not let me know. In the same way someone should not be hated or assumed to be evil, perverted, or otherwise dangerous because of any physiological or biological conditions they happen to be born with, I should not be either for having been born transgender. People born blind did not choose to be born blind, neither did I choose to be born transgender. You, of course, have a right to your opinion, but I would prefer not you not share any negative judgements with me.
Please know to that I cannot reply to all the comments you leave here. I will do my best though. Feel free to message me for deeper conversations. I look forward to your kind words and support. If you reply negatively to this post I will delete your comments. I know the vast majority of you will reply with grace and love.
I want to say how incredibly grateful and moved I am by Mandy’s amazing and remarkable acceptance, support, understanding, and love. She is my biggest ally. I am so blessed and lucky know such a wonderful person. Her compassion is off the charts fantastic. We can now share the same clothes. 🙂
I also want to thank our boys for their amazing support. They have been so kind, so understanding, and so happy for me. They are showing such grace, strength, warmth, and kindness. I am so, so grateful. Thank you my dear children. I love you so much.
I have many other friends and therapists to thank, but understandably I just cannot here. There are a few here I would to mention however. One is my friend, Mika. She is the one who helped break this shell open. She was the one who helped me see myself for the first time. She used her magic, wisdom, insights, kindness, and encouragement to help my true self reveal itself to me. And she continuously supports and celebrates me.
Another friend is Brian. He has accepted and loved me as I am from the beginning. Never questioned me once.
Two friends, Mindy and Jeanie, have taught me many things about courage, authenticity, joy, and creativity. I am grateful they are in my life.
I also want to thank my friend and colleague, Erin, for her amazing and empowering support and guidance these last couple years.
I also want to thank my friends at Transway and Evolutions, and to the Mazzoni Center for all their guidance, support, and encouragement.
So there it is. That’s the news.  And there is one more thing.


I will be changing my name (legally) as soon as I can. Taking inspirations from my favorite transgender author, Jennifer Finney Boylan, as well as my mother’s name, Angie, I am changing my name to Jennifer Angelina Petro. Not sure how to do that on Facebook yet, but I will figure it out. As best you can please refer to me as Jennifer from now on and with feminine pronouns. I understand this will take getting used to. It will for me as well, but this is my new name—one I picked, one I feel honors who I am and the characters and gifts I want to embody.
Thank you for reading. Thank you for loving me and for your support all these years. I need it now more than ever.
I love you all.





20 thoughts on “September 18, 2015, Coming Out As Transgender, by Jennifer Angelina Petro

  1. Jennifer,
    Oh,my, that’s going to be really different for me! But I am so happy for you and for your discovery and your new journey. I cannot imagine the courage it has taken you to make this next step, but am so warmed to know that you have so many who love you and are embracing your decision to be honest with yourself and with those in your world. I also cannot imagine the years of not feeling comfortable within yourself and not knowing why. How free you must feel now. And I can hear it in your “voice.” I wish you all good things and hope to share your journey when you feel like sharing. Peace and love be with you. Fane

  2. Wow. I am so blown away by your courage and clarity. I am so proud of you that I don’t really have words. This…is just amazingly wonderful. You started me on my transformation, and I will be there for yours. The rest of your life is waiting, love. Go make some magic, Jennifer! We’re here! We gotcha!

    • Thank you, Lori. I am very grateful for your joyful willingness to go with me on this amazing journey. And I am happy to be a part of your transformation. We are all walking each other home. Magic we are making, joy we are dancing with. Thank you again. Yours, Jennifer

  3. Wow! Thank you Jennifer. I read this as one who reads internet blogs of random strangers. At the very end it started to dawn on me that I might actually know who you were. Or at least know your family. I got the biggest grin when I realized who you were. So very proud of you. I celebrate you discovering, claiming, embracing, and announcing your true self. Bravo!

    • You’re welcome, Jess. Thank you for reading with such care and open-heartedness. Your pride for me makes me feel fantastic. Thank you for celebrating with me. So grateful to know there are so many wonderful and loving people in the world. Yours, Jennifer

  4. Jennifer,

    Wow- from the moment I met you I knew you were someone very special to me in my life- as a cousin, friend, person… Having the wonderfully blessed opportunity to communicate with you up to this point has been truly amazing and as I read through your letter of becoming your true authentic self, all I can say is that I am incredibly proud and thankful for my awesome cousin Jennifer- a beautiful person inside and out! You have come so far in life and I am so excited to be a part of this journey with you- to welcome us all into your heart and to accept each and every one of us- is so much more than I can ever ask for. I must say thank you to my beautiful and remarkable cousin, Jennifer!
    Thank you all to Jennifer’s friends and family and supporters up to this point- it means a lot to me too! Because it makes me happy to know that she is feeling optimistic about herself and the life to come.

    Lots of love, blessings & support ,
    Your cousin,
    Danielle ❤️

    • Danielle, thank you. I am deeply grateful that we have gotten to know one another. You are special to me as well and I am moved by your compassion, wisdom, and acceptance. You are an amazing person with many wonderful and amazing things to do in the world, and I know you can and will do them all. Thank you again, dear Danielle, for walking the road with me. Love, Jennifer

  5. There’s something really exciting and moving for me about hearing from people from my community of origin who are coming out. I’m grateful for the bright light you’re courageously shining on authenticity. I’m grateful to have known you for a brief window many years ago, and hopeful that I’ll get to meet you again as you are now, fully yourself. Thank you for boldly being you, and congratulations!

    • Thank you, Anna. I remember you. We should all get together and chant again. We could do some sisterhood chants. 🙂 Thank you for your kind words of support. While this is the happiest time of my life, it isn’t without great fear, so when I hear words like yours, I am bolstered to carry on with a sense of adventure and faith. So thank you. Yours, Jennifer

  6. I don’t actually know you, but I think you are from the same community as I am, and I just wanted to give you ALL the props. Figuring this stuff out is hard, and so important.

    My partner is trans, and seeing her come into her own has been the biggest honor of my life. Good luck to you. <3

  7. Pingback: My One Year Anniversary of Coming Out, Sunday, September 18, 2016, by Jennifer Iris Petroni | The Wonder Child Blog

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