On My Second Birthday of Coming Out As Trans, by Jennifer Angelina Petro

On My Second Birthday of Coming Out As Trans

by

Jennifer Angelina Petro
I have four birthdays. The first being my “belly button” birthday—January 7th, 1968. The second being that April morning in 2015 when I realized in full conscious that I am transgender (I am not sure of the exact date, which is incredibly annoying—so I am going to pick, April 1rst. Not for the reasons you might automatically be thinking. Back in 2015, the International Day of Hope fell on April first—that’s why I’m picking it). My third birthday is the day I came out publicly—to the whole world—no more hiding—anything—ever: September 18, 2015. And finally, October 11, 2015—the day I started taking t-blockers and estrogen.

Two years ago today I posted a note on FB and on my blog. It’s a quaint, naive, defensive sort of note—filled with idealism, early forays into activism, my usual flare for the corny, and yeah, a big reveal. Most of you know the devastating fall out that note had on my life and the life of my family. With your help, however I carried through my last year as a teacher, loving every moment I got to be with those kids. I also saw the end of a marriage, the sale of a house, the moving into an apartment (twice in 3 months) alone, and the death threats, the relatives and friends who stopped talking to me, the people pissed I made this announcement on FB and my blog instead of telling them individually (yeah, that would have gone over well and not been the least bit emotionally exhausting), the meetings at school with angry parents, and also, the utter joy at freely walking through the world as I was always meant to. And THAT was a kind of blessing that is hard, even for me, to put into words.

Last year I posted a very depressing first coming-out birthday note. And as much as I spoke of being depressed that first year, little did I know the depression would worsen to the point of being life-threatening. Over the course of that first year—with all the difficult (to say the least) and naively unexpected life-changes, I careened shortly thereafter, into a severe and total breakdown with multiple hospital stays for suicidality. Looking back on my coming out letter, last year’s letter, and this–and you will notice depression has been with me the entire time. That’s because I am clinically depressed. I was born with depression, the same way someone is born with any other physical illness. It goes with me where ever I go. I say that to say, my suffering from depression isn’t because I’m trans. Being trans and coming out worsened my symptoms–yes, for sure–but the illness called, depression, has always been with me–since my earliest childhood days.

Which brings us to today. It has taken me a year to even truly begin to feel somewhat stable mentally and emotionally, and I am still not out of the woods as far as a recovery from this latest flare up of symptoms from my depression. And yes, fall is coming, and winter, and yeah, I usually go through those seasons chipper as a jar of glitter at a Pride parade…The difference this year though is that I am getting help from so many fronts—professionally, medically, therapeutically, spiritually, emotionally, and for all that I am, with trepidations, hopeful this year’s symptoms won’t be so extreme.

So here I am: two years old. Through all the changes, depression, dysphoria, unemployment, calls from debt-collectors, lonely days and nights in my hovel, I have also had moments—glimpses and full visions of salvation, community, love, hope, and the peace and electricity that come from living one’s truest self–my self–me. Who I am. Not who I was born to be–I was born this way–a woman–a transgender woman–but who I am meant to live openly as the way I was truly born.

Yes, I am scared about the upcoming fall and winter. Yes, I am still unemployed and, in all clarity, not mentally fit enough to be working a “real” job yet. I am also getting better. I also have a church community I never knew I’d find—friends that support and love me in ways only real friends can do. There is reason for hope, and you are one of those reasons. My ex and our children still love and accept me and that, of course, is key.

Last year I ended my first birthday note with a toast to a smoother year. We all know that smoother didn’t exactly manifest. So, I won’t toast to that this year. I won’t toast to anything. I don’t drink anyway.

What I will say is this: Thank you. Thank you for your love and support. For being there in my darkest moments and my silliest sillies, and my most wondrous of wonders.

I am here. I am myself in a way that was simply more conscious and alive that I was before I came out, and for that, despite all the challenges—I am eternally grateful.

Happy birthday to me. I love me. I love you.

1vliof


 

 





Interdependence Day, by Jennifer Angelina Petro

Interdependence Day

By

Jennifer Angelina Petro

 

vigil photo 1

 

I love this country.  I really do.  I will never forget, however, that it was, and is, being born from violence—genocide, slavery, and corruption.  It was also born from a deep thirst of religious freedom and the ideal where anyone could come to live out their lives the way they chose.

Yes, we have a terrorist imbecile in the white house.  Yes, it has a barbaric administration.  We also have you.  We also have many who will resist and fight, and care—maybe not in the ways you think they should, but they are do, and in their own ways are living out their lives the way they choose—a life of generosity, compassion, kindness, love, and humor.

And yes, there are those who have no choice in how they live—those who have no independence.  There are the oppressed, the marginalized, the hated, feared, the hungry, the homeless, the people without healthcare, or enough money to live on no matter how many hours they work at a minimum wage job.  And of course, this must change.  The dangers of capitalism, the patriarchy, white supremacy, the attacks on the environment, racism—these all must change and be dismantled.  And it is hard.  Most days it seems impossible.  I truly believe we can do it though.  I truly believe we can, and are, rising up as never before.  The powers of good are getting stronger every day, and you and I are a part of that energy.

Yes, this country is deeply flawed, and we can look around and see those flaws, and rightly so, everywhere we look. And we should.  We need to be awake to what we can do to help make positive, lasting changes in our country.  We need to bear witness to each other’s pain.  We need to listen to each other’s stories of sorrow and victory.

Yes, there are people living kind, compassionate, good lives—I  daresay the vast majority in this country are trying to do so.  They love their kids.  They do good in their communities.  They offer you a hand when you’re down.  They do amazingly inventive, hilarious, useful things.  They do their best to live in such a way as to promote basic, human decency.

Yes, this country is a mess.  It is also a tapestry of wonder and of good people creating peace and a safe place for all.  There are many people who do not let hate live in their homes.

And no, I am not going to say we are the greatest country in the world.  There is no greatest country.  There is only a world of souls woven together by threads of hope in the face of great, unholy darkness.

I am a trans woman….I have tasted oppression and marginalization.  I have received death threats, and been the target of hate.  I fear going out of my apartment every day.  And yet I go.  I go with the faith that the good people will always outnumber the ignorant, misguided, brainwashed, hateful, hurtful people.  And it has never failed to be so in my experience.  For every act of hatred aimed at me, there have been a hundred acts of kindness aimed at me also.  The vast majority of my days I go out into the world, and while afraid, realize I am OK.

And no, I am not free.  I am not truly independent.  I am held back by my gender, by my mental illness, by my not being able to pass.  I also can share many gifts and strengths by being trans.  My mental illness may prevent me somedays from getting out of bed, but it also helps me see the world in magical ways, and it heightens my desire to be more and more compassionate to myself and others.

Yes, I am free to fight, and I do.  I am an activist by my very existence.  I am free to let you help me, and I do, and you do.  I am free to help you. I am free to troll the world with beauty, courage, compassion, and humor.  I am free to be me even as, in the same moment, I am not.

Today, I am going to change the name of this day to Interdependence Day.  We all need each other.  We all need one another.  And if today the best you can do is post a meme about justice, then you have helped the world.  Today I might need to be carried.  Today I might be able to carry.  We are all inextricably connected.  We even share the same air as trump.

I believe in us.  I believe in you.

I believe in our capacity to help one another, to see the good, to assume the good in one another.  I believe in our desire for justice, equality, and the genuine acceptance of one another.  I believe in our power to fight, to speak out however loudly or softly we can. I believe in the good people doing acts of kindness every day. I believe in love.  I believe in the collective power of our vision and that it will one day prevail.  It is already spreading.  A fire is burning in our hearts.  A light is shining from our eyes.  We can rise up, lifting one another, and learn how to help change the things that so desperately need changing.

I am going to celebrate Interdependence Day by bringing a meal to a family in need.  I am not bragging, but if I was, who fucking cares?  Announce your goodness for all to see.

Happy Interdependence Day.

I love you all.  Thank you for all you have done, and will do to help me survive the illnesses I carry.  I would not be here today were in not for good people like you.

 


 

 

 


Donations go to medical expenses, groceries, and medicine.

Thank you. <3

Dream, by Jennifer Angelina Petro

Dream

by

Jennifer Angelina Petro

 

pool

No One was there when I opened the door after being awoken by a frantic knocking.  I stood there, afraid, and yet, by some miracle, invited No One in.  I cleared off a chair and invited No One to sit down.  I asked if they needed a drink of water.  They nodded yes.  I turned to get some water and No One started weeping.  I stopped, knelt at No One’s side, and took their hand.  No One wept like a torrent of rain.  They collapsed off the chair and into my arms.  They started to try to speak through the sobs.  I couldn’t understand what they were saying.  I caught pieces of words and phrases:  Lonely, please, it’s chasing me, afraid, tired.  I rocked No One in my arms and they wept for a long time.  In fact, Time stepped aside and let us be together for as long as No One needed.  I was grateful for Time for letting go of control and allowing No One’s pain to be witnessed in the kind of timelessness they reserve for dreams.

No One gradually wept into a deep sleep.  I stayed there, holding them in my arms on the floor.  My legs started tingling and falling asleep.  I got up slowly and lifted No One into bed.  I stroked their hair and pulled the blanket up over their deeply breathing body.  I sat down in the chair and wondered why No One had come to me.  Who, or what was chasing them?  What could I do to help?  And with those thoughts drifting through my heart like wisps of mist, I too fell into a deep sleep.

Inside (or outside?) my dream, No One had risen from the bed and stood radiant and strong, alive. I watched in awe as No One began to change their form.  Their body shifted and fluttered, lighting up like a million fireflies, taking on other shapes and forms, until, at last, No One had transformed into Everyone, and it was then I understood why they had come.  But then, Everyone too began changing shape.  Their illumination settled a bit, and their form, a moment ago like a sun that somehow fit into the space of my apartment, began to shrink in size.  As Everyone continued to distill in form and intensity, their light became focused and channeled to a specific spot in the room.  It was then I understood why Everyone had changed.  They had changed, wonder of wonders, into myself.  And yet somehow, Everyone was still there.  We were one being, one light, one heart.  And No One suddenly flickered into the room, never to be alone again. And I let myself, wonder of wonders, be embraced by Everyone, as they rocked me in their arms, for I had collapsed from the chair weeping like the rain.


 


All donations go to groceries, medical bills, and medicine. <3

Thank you. <3

Untitled by Jennifer Angelina Petro

Untitled

By

Jennifer Angelina Petro

 

 

Lightening does not reveal the way.

Thunder illumines the silence that is.

When it’s all said and done

Silence will be all that’s left

Standing in the middle of the room,

Touching everything,

Touching nothing.

 

 


 

Please help me with medical bills and buying food. Thank you <3

 

 


Untitled by Jennifer Angelina Petro

I do not see the light.

I do not feel the warmth of love.

The emptiness that I am deafens my days.

Silence turns into auditory hallucinations.

I stand motionless

For long moments, every day, unable to move,

Think, or breathe.  Impossible

As I have made my life

I am here existing in the nothingness

Still hoping—still hoping for light.

 

 

 

 

 


Any help for me to buy food or pay for medical expenses is deeply needed and appreciated.


Look For Signs, by Jennifer Angelina Petro

Look for Signs

By

Jennifer Angelina Petro

 

 

Having bipolar disorder is like…is like…..

Huh? Oh, um…ideas are coming, just wait a second,

I must write them down.  One is about air

And how we all depend on it to lift us in our lungs

And in the tires of our bikes and cars;

The other is about the wings of demons

And what would happen if the wings

Became angels and decided not to carry the demons

Around anymore.  Wait, I’ll be right there.  I just have to

Get these ideas down so I don’t forget them.

Huh? If I don’t write them down the Muse

Might get angry and start ignoring me—

Passing me by when she’s handing out gifts—

Just…..wait a second.  No…..wait.  Don’t wait.

I am not sure how long this will take—the poems will suck

No matter how they turn out anyways—all my poems

Suck.  Why wouldn’t they?  I’m a piece of shit.

Huh? Why would I say that?  Because it’s true.

It’s also true I am a visionary and these ideas

That are coming—the one about air and the one

About the wings of demons—as soon as I turn them

Into poems they will change modern poetics forever.

Yes, even though they’re shitty.  Modern poetics suck too—

And I am a modern poet.  So…wait….if you want to.

I am going to write these ideas down before we talk—

The Muse is waiting, she won’t be denied.

Huh? Where is she?  She’s here, inside, and she’s there

Behind the moon and that tree.  She’s in your eyes…

Wait….there is another idea.  This one is about

How we talk with our hands, and wait, there is another.

This one is about why we feel it in our teeth

When we crunch snow with our boots.  Oh wait,

You don’t feel it in your teeth when you walk

Over snow and it makes a crunching sound?

Told you these poems would suck.  No. No. No.

I am not saying the gifts from the Muse suck.

No. Never.  Ever.  Her ideas are always pure gold—

It’s just they distill through me and I suck

Which, of course, colors the ideas, making the poems suck

That I make out of the ideas.  You see?  No?  It’s OK.

No one does.  Just know this—air lifts you

By your lungs and by the tires of your car, demon wings

Dream of rebelling and flying off the demon’s back,

And, and, the next time you walk over fresh, wet snow,

Touch your hand to your jaw and feel the crunch

From your boots shooting right there in your teeth,

And then, once you know these things—once you believe me

That she will be upset if I do not write them down right now—

Then, maybe you will understand, maybe you will know

What it’s like to be bipolar, but probably not—by the time

You catch a glimpse of understanding I will be

Dead.  It’s inevitable, isn’t it?  I mean, I cannot go on this way

Forever.  God wants me home and demons are clawing at my heels

And the depression is crushing my bones—I feel it

In my teeth, and then, and then, and then…Huh?  Why?

Why kill myself?  The ideas the Muse will give me

Bodiless will be heaven-flavored and better than ever.  But don’t worry.

I will get them to you somehow.

Look for signs.

 

 

 

 


 

 

 




Donations go towards paying medical bills. 

i Cannot Weep Among the Autumn Trees, by jennifer angelina petro

i Cannot Weep Among the Autumn Trees

 

by

 

jennifer angelina petro

 

 

 

i’ve tried,

and those

who know

a bit

about

the depth

of dark

that hovers

over my head

knows

how much

i weep.

 

Walking

amongst

the autumn

trees, tears

shed

into the wind,

but do not fall—

they sail golden

into the wind

which is

different

than weeping.

 

No. i am

not cured

of the illness

which i am

a carrier of.

No. i am

in autumn’s

reprieve.

 

Which begs

the question:

why not

go out and be

with the trees

everyday?

Because somedays

the dark hands

holding my ankles

have just

too strong

a grip.

 

Which begs,

of course,

another

question:

how did you

get free enough

today to walk

among the trees?

 

Look—

that leaf—

that piece

of gold lying

in the brittle,

browning grass—

those treetops

lit up

above the darkening

branches—somehow

lifted the shackles

away and kissed

my feet, and said:

There

are poems

and photographs

waiting

for you.

Go. You may

never have

the strength

again.  Go.

We will

hold off

the dark as long

as we can.

 

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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.

 

 


 

 

 





Rising Up to Meet the Road, by Jennifer Angelina Petro

 

 

 

Rising Up to Meet the Road

By

Jennifer Angelina Petro

 

 

beautiful road

 

 

There are poems unfinished

Waiting in the woods beneath roots of trees

And hovering, like horsetail clouds behind the moon;

There are songs unwritten

Following beside me as I walk,

Their melodies coming in snippets, like

Distant birdcalls or pieces

Of dreams, and soundbites

Of conversations overheard

In used bookstores, classrooms, and coffee shops,

Their rhythms blossoming

From the muse and the soul touching all night, all day,

Every day, when I am not able to dance

Either asleep or awake;

There is work undone

Waiting in the universe, making its way

Towards my door, opportunities

Growing, like flower gardens

Planted when no one is looking,

But they are coming, they are revealing

Themselves little by little, like

Spring in the coldest of winters;

There are people unloved

Waiting in the wings for me to release the spirits

That bind me–to make my way

Towards the light, to open

The hands of my heart

And let in those who see

And feel and know my name,

And for me to step through

The fourth wall and into their arms and lives;

There are answered prayers

Unprayed, waiting to be let loose

Into the world, like

So many fireflies, like a carnival

Of children, like a collection

Of songs and poems

Published on the wings

Of pain and healing and lifting their way

Into moonlit clouds and sunlit days,

And alighting back down as angels and

Moonbeams, sunbeams and ends of rainbows,

Petals of cherry blossoms,

Dragonflies, and cries of cicadas

And morning doves, and beings

Of all the elements, and all of this, all of this

Swirling into one, worthy to be lived

Life of one woman rising up

To meet the road.

 

 

 


 

 

 

 





Donations go to my gender reassignment surgery and to the continuation of the Wonder Child Blog

Hopelessness Fogging, by Jennifer Angelina Petro

Hopelessness Fogging
By
Jennifer Angelina Petro

 

 
Ravens gather in the spring oak,
Waiting, staring down;
Day after day they descend
Into the budding branches
Until their gathering becomes a flock
And their flock a swarm;
When they sense hopelessness
Fogging through my bones in my room,
As one they open the cloaks of their wings,
Drift to the ground,
And move—one bobbing, black, cawing sea
Marching towards my door.