Transitioning, by Jennifer Angelina Petro

Transitioning

By

Jennifer Angelina Petro

 

 

 

In the first place,

To begin with,

The first thing to remember,

By all means,

In light of,

In any event,

Moreover,

Then again,

To clarify,

As a matter of fact,

Until now,

As you can see,

When,

Surprisingly,

To put it differently,

Sooner or later,

Suddenly,

Altogether,

Coupled with,

Beyond,

Similarly,

Of course,

Next,

Now,

In detail,

Accordingly,

In the final analysis,

Together with,

For this intention,

For this in mind,

Here and there,

Alongside,

Be that as it may,

Again,

And again,

Nevertheless,

In reality,

To be sure,

I am,

Uniquely,

Granted, that,

In the same fashion,

That is to say,

I am whole,

For one thing,

I am here,

In like manner,

Owing to,

Being that,

As well as anyone,

I am,

Equally important,

At the same time,

Furthermore,

Above all,

I am here,

In essence,

All in all,

Here,

Regardless,

No matter,

I am here,

In the long run,

All in all,

Surprisingly,

Transitioning,

Here.

 

easter me

 

 


 

 




All donations go to medical expenses and groceries.  Thank you for your support. <3

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


 

 





A Man Gives Birth

A Man Gives Birth
By
Jennifer Angelina Petro

 

 

Who says men can’t give birth?
This body carried a woman
For forty seven years. This body
Loved a woman in secret—secret even
Unto himself—he did not even know
She was there being loved by secret parts
Of himself, surrounded by angels,
And this secret man tended her nest,
Fed her with everything he had.
And when she was ready
To be born, to spread elegant
And vulnerable wings, he opened
Himself with grace, sacrificed himself
With genuine humility, and sang her
Into being, wrote her into form,
Tracing the lines of her face
With wonder-filled fingers. And
She spread wings made of light woven with night,
And he made room for her to settle
Into them, and overtime he coaxed her out,
Although she didn’t need much coaxing really,
But he encouraged her to move closer to the edge,
And with eyes full of joyous tears, watched her begin
To fly, and he has done nothing
Except cheer as she began circling, soaring,
Singing to the sun and the moon with her wings
And her heart and her whole being free
And unencumbered. And he knows
He will diminish as she increases,
And he knows his form will fade from view,
And he
Is
So
Grateful
To have been the one chosen
To bear this secret beauty,
This hidden treasure,
This pearl of great price,
This Bird of Great Rejoicing,
And she
Is
So
Grateful
For everything he has done
And has yet to do–
For his tender, artistic hands
That hold and groom her wings,
For his willingness to risk everything
That she may live. And now,
She flies and sings her world
Into being, inviting you to go with her
Into a morning of beautiful
And dangerous possibilities.
You are being called
To be doulas for them both,
For they are going to need you,
They are going to need time
To rest in each other’s arms,
And sleep without interruption,
He will need understanding
And sustenance, she will need places
To fly with acceptance and celebration,
He will need you to remember
He didn’t have a choice in this.
She was meant to be born,
She was conceived by stars and the moon,
And he was chosen to carry
This little galaxy of wonder,
And he could not pick the time for her arrival.
And now she is here, flying–wings singing softly
And with incredible power,
Through a blue sky full of unknown spaces,
Through the night sky full of magic and yellow eyes
Watching from the shadows,
Through a soul sky full of blessed calm.
So come, you too were given wings,
You too have secret angels tending beings
Aching to be born, and of course, not necessarily
Like mine—a being of a new gender–no, you have your own
Hidden treasure, your own secret owl or nightingale,
Your own hidden being who nevertheless longs for freedom,
So come, I know what it’s like
To be born unexpectedly, let’s be each other’s midwives,
Let’s nurse one another
With holy fire.

 

 

 


 

 

 

Please help support my transition.  All donations will go towards medical expenses.  Thank you so very much. <3



Coming Out

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 my condition 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 transgenderism 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 any operations or “the” operation. While my condition 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 or straight 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.
Yours,

Jennifer