Rejoice in the Body Positive, A Spoken Word Poem, by Jennifer Angelina Petro

Rejoice in the Body Positive
A Spoken Word Poem
By
Jennifer Angelina Petro

 

 

sassy me
I do not wear makeup to cover him,
I wear make up to honor her.
My makeup isn’t done on a walking cadaver,
My makeup is done on a living, breathing, woman.
I do not wear makeup to impress you or to make you think that I need it to be beautiful–
I am beautiful and I choose to wear makeup because it’s fun—
It’s part of my life I never got to explore
Until now
And it’s fun. I get to be a teenager in a way I never was able to until now,
And I love it. My body is a canvas to play upon.
And I rejoice in the body positive.
I do not wear makeup or shave my face or legs or chest to conform
To anyone’s misguided standards of what it is to be a woman,
I do these things because I like to—I love the smooth feeling of newly shaved legs,
I love to run my hands over my hairless breasts,
I love a smooth face—much easier for makeup application—but don’t think
For a second I do any of this for you, or to pretend to be a her that I’m not,
I do not do this to hide him–
He, like it or not, is still with me. He
Is my most faithful friend.
I do not hate him—
He is alive and well, informing this beauty with all he’s got,
And yes, this beauty is mine. And I rejoice in the body positive.
This hair on my face, chest, legs, arms—it’s all there
For a reason. He did not sprout it to torture me, and I refuse to be laden
With the damp shawls of self-hate any longer. I rejoice in the body positive.
This form, this face—it’s all me—so what it may not
Blurt out “woman” to your ideas of what a woman is or should be—this beauty is mine,
This body is mine and, much to the chagrin of those scared radical femmes,
It is every bit a woman as theirs’.
So what if my life as a woman disturbs you, or my weight or my shoulders,
My big hands or my jowls—this beauty is mine,
I cannot stop you from living in your lies of how a woman should look or dress or shave,
This beauty is mine—these hands, this face, these breasts—
This beauty is mine–
And I rejoice in the body positive
For hairy women rock—all women rock.
I shave out of choice not enslavement to you—not to tame the wildness–
And some days I don’t shave, some days I do not wear makeup
And the world does not come to an end.
I do not shave or wear makeup to hide the earthiness of the body.
I do not do these things to hide the way I was born.
I do them out of my own sense of myself and how I want to look.
If I grow a fucking beard again, it would in no way negate
My womanhood. This is the body I have. I could fight it,
Hate it, and condemn myself to death while still living in it,
And for what?
Today I choose to rejoice in the body positive—
These breasts, this penis, these hairs on my arms, this heart—it’s all beautiful—
And if I want to shave I shave, if I wear makeup I wear makeup,
If I wear a dress that flows like liquid wind
Or jeans and a t-shirt—–it needn’t matter to you—
I rejoice in the body positive—and send the joy of who I am
Resounding through the mindless traditions—-shattering the paradigms of what beauty is
Of what womanhood is, of what manhood is—-Come! Let’s tear off all the hoods—
And rejoice in the body positive.
Gendered clothing, facial hair,
Makeup, body parts—it’s all preposterously silly—
Free the nipple, free the vagina, free the penis,
Free the chub, free the skin and bone model starving to death,
Free it all from the constraints of fear-based, shame-based, hate-based,
Lie-based, money-based, lust-based, greed-based, power-based,
Ignorant-based, bigoted-based, false-masculine-based, false-feminine-based,
Deep shadow-based BULLSHIT—
And yes, the world will come crashing down—so be it–
Sometimes the temple needs to be destroyed
So that a real sanctuary can be built—a sanctuary for all bodies,
All genders, all colors of the rainbow and the darkness, the brilliance,
The whispered hymns and the shouted choruses, a place where love reigns
And hands explore and hearts make room, and minds open
For the fresh winds of freedom to blow through–
Come build with me.
Come celebrate the body positive,
Come love who you are and change what you want,
Come love who you are and change nothing at all,
Come love who you are and let go of the world’s expectations
Of who you should be or what you should say—let freedom ring,
And rejoice in the body positive,
Come love who you are and love one another,
Let’s dance or keep still, whatever we need,
Whatever we choose, let’s do it all with ferocious kindness,
And rejoice in the body positive.

 

 




All donations go to furthering my transition.  Thank you.  <3 


 


My Two Beginnings–A Transgender Transition Timeline Video, by Jennifer Angelina Petro

 

Happy New Year Lovely Readers.

I hope your year is filled with good health, fun, adventure, relaxation, and wonder.

Love to all,

Jennifer


 

All donations go to helping support the cost of my further transition. Thank you. <3

 


 



Trying to Focus on the Ceiling Up Close in the Half Light, By Jennifer Angelina Petro

Trying to Focus on the Ceiling Up Close in the Half Light
By
Jennifer Angelina Petro

 

 
Looking up takes practice.
One doesn’t focus the eyes
So easily right off the bat,
Your eyes fight straining
So they don’t go all crisscross.
Give in to the white space however
And all manner of things emerge.
You begin to see colors,
And shapes assemble, and feelings
Of possibility and anticipation
Slowly build in your mind
Until finally you’ve fashioned a dream
To live in all day every day.
Of course your eyes eventually do go crisscross
And everything begins to blur,
And you wonder how long you’ve been
Staring at a ceiling so close to your face,
And then you wonder how you got up there,
And then you look down and just make out
Your assigned form lying there sleeping with blankets half off
Revealing just how frighteningly vulnerable
We all are when surrendered to the dark waves of living unconsciously,
And shivers run through you,
For you are doing just that up here
And everywhere you go,
And so you snip the chord
Binding you to that body
Which sends you fluttering through the ceiling, the attic,
And out into the cold, January night,
And you wonder why it is so windless,
And you wonder why you are so tissue-thin
When you feel so full,
And you wonder what unseen currents
Are bearing you, and you wonder where
And when it will end, and what your final form will look like
When you land in the arms of the moon.
And when she turns you over to kiss your face
And swathe you in caresses of light, you will wonder why
You ever waited so long to filter through the boundaries of your life
And become your fiercely awake and joy-receptive self.

 

 

 


 

 

Thank you for helping support my transition.  <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

 

 


 


Your Soul is Rooting For You

Your Soul is Rooting For You
By
Joseph Anthony Petro

 

 
Searching through veins
That branch like blue trees
And sinew strung purple and tan,
Singing, like the fragrance
Of honeysuckle fingering
Through the billow drapery
Of a moonlit room—
Your soul is looking for you.

 

Through marrow and bone,
Through flashing neurons,
And the twisting bridges
Of firing synapses, your soul
Is on a quest to find you alive.

 

Ferreting through the fallen leaves
Of countless conversations,
Ransacking the rooms
Of your childhood,
Sifting through handfuls of tears,
Foraging through jungles
Of the unraveled skeins of unused desires,
Your soul aches to know what it is
You truly want.

 

Rooting through the dark soil
Of your dreams your soul
Will turn your life upside down
And inside out until you learn
To breathe and to focus, until you become
Unstoppable, until you finally
Ask for help, until you discover
Once again, and once and for all,
How beautiful you really are.

 

 

 


 

 

 





Storm of Joy

Storm of Joy
By
Joseph Anthony Petro

 

 

We all have a place
Inside where our truest self
Lives, where our truest self awaits
Manifestation through veils
And layers of years, and veils and layers
Of public opinion, old ideas, and misguided
Social constructs. For some,
Their truest self is an animal,
For others it is a lotus,
For others it is a river, a tree, or a song.
Then there are those
Whose truest self is a body
Aching to break free from years
Of dying inside someone else’s
Tired, cramped, and lonely body.
No matter who you really are,
Or where the place is you truly live—
Go there. It is not too late.
Time is not running out, time is running in, flowing
Through skin and masks,
Through hidden fissures and coves,
It is revealing you–So be ready.
Step out into the cool stream,
Astonish yourself with yourself.
Grace the world with the gift of you,
And that place inside will open, like
A storm of joy, and you will finally be able
To breathe.

 

wissahickon

 


 

 

 





Two Short Poems

Two Short Poems

By

Joseph Anthony Petro

 

 

We all look for water,
We all want some kind
Of baptism into personal freedom;
May we find it at the river’s edge
Where we take our stand,
And in the tears of joy and sorrow that fall
From our own eyes
When we finally spread our wings
And fly.

 

butterfly

 

Though the clouds try to do
Their cloud work and cocoon you
With silken threads,
I know you are already a silver moth,
Resting on the gently billowing curtains
Of the night sky,
May my heart be a lamp
As your wings grow full.
A lamp not to consume,
But a lamp to draw you near–
A lamp inviting you to dance.

 

moon

 

 


 

 

 

 





Masks

Dear Readers,

This is a summer-rerun post–a story called, Masks.  It was originally written 3 years ago but is truer now than it was then–at least for me.  It was inspired by a post on Jean Raffa’s wonderful blog, Matrignosis, called, “Ruling the Inner Chamber” ( http://jeanraffa.wordpress.com/2012/01/20/ruling-the-inner-chamber-3/&nbsp .

 

 

Masks

by

Joseph Anthony Petro

Once inside a time, a child descended the rainbow spiral and slipped into the life of a troubled young couple. The child floated in its embryonic wonder, dreaming of eternity, dreaming of worlds within worlds, dreaming of creating the universe, as her little body formed–clothing those dreams in flesh and bone.


At long last she was born again and when she first focused her grey, oceanic eyes on her mother, she took the image of her mother, saw it form into a mask, and drop down onto her little face as lightly as a breeze. After a moment the mask took on the shape and contour her own face, and disappeared, leaving her seemingly unaffected. The same thing happened when she first saw her father. A mask lifted from his face, imprinted with his features, drifted down upon her face, and disappeared just below the surface.


One day, years later, her father lost his temper for the hundredth time, something about money and bills, and the image of his face changed, distorted, and another mask lifted and wafted through the room until it landed on her face where, like the other masks, it took the shape and form of her face and then disappeared.


One day her mother flew into a rage and slapped her around the room, because she had broken her cellphone, and the child took on the mask that lifted from her mother’s wild, anger-blinded face. Her tears acted like an extra strong adhesive as that mask stuck itself down to stay.


Another day she was assaulted by an uncle in the basement of his house on Easter Sunday. His mask burned as it grafted to her face. As did the faces of everyone upstairs when she was finally able to move and go upstairs, in shock, somehow their gazes told her they all knew what a horrible, ugly person she had suddenly become. And they looked away but their masks hung in the room and followed her as if suspended on invisible strings, to where she sat rocking on the floor in front of the TV, her arms wrapped around her knees, like stunted wings.


Still another day she was humiliated in front of the entire school when she forgot the words to the song she was singing at the Christmas assembly. It was quite a feat, but she managed to assimilate the masks of everyone staring at her; everyone who laughed and pointed their fingers.

Over time and over years, she took on mask after mask from those around her.  She would watch other children get praised for something they did or said and she took on their masks as well. She took on masks of bullies, victims, the wall flowers in the corner; heroes, heroines, pop stars, movie stars, lovers, therapists, friends, and even imaginary people she made up in her mind. And with every mask she forgot who she was. Sure she knew the name her parents gave her; sure she knew things about herself. But her real name; her true identity, that became increasingly hidden under layers and layers of micro thin, but nonetheless nearly unbreakable masks.


Until one day, in her late thirties, she broke down while looking in the mirror. She no longer knew who she was. She didn’t know what to do with her life. She didn’t have a purpose, a direction. She didn’t know anything except that she hated herself, that she felt ashamed with every step she took. And as she stood, hunched over the sink, sobbing into her hands, a raven slammed into the bathroom window with a horrible thud. Broken from her trance, she ran downstairs to see if the bird was still alive. Outside her door, flapping miserably, but looking a bit embarrassed, was a raven. Its eyes looked dazed, one of its wings was bent in a way it shouldn’t be, but otherwise it seemed OK. She bent down to see if there was something she could do when she fell backwards screaming because the raven, as a-matter-of-factly-as the rising sun said: “It was worth it.”


After shaking her head and staring at the raven for quite some time, she stood up, trembling.

“You heard me,” said the raven, “now pick me up and take me inside, I won’t bite. Yet.”


The woman gingerly scooped the raven into her arms, surprised at the size and weight of this night-colored creature.


“What do mean, it was worth it.”


“I had to get your attention somehow. I didn’t mean to hit the window so hard, but at least it broke you out of your trance.”


“You-you smacked into the window for me?”


“Yes, a few more minutes and you’da been lost forever.”


“Lost?”


“In the swamps of pity. Once people get lost in there, they almost never make it out alive. But you’re OK now,” he said as she gently placed him on the couch.


“What do you need,” she asked, “What can I do for you?”


“I just need a few minutes to rest before I ask you to stick my wing back into its socket. It’s just a bit dislocated.”


She cringed at the thought. “It’s the least I can do after you saved me from the swamps of self-pity.”


“I suppose,” said the raven, “but first we need to work on you.”


“Me? What do you mean?”


“I was sent here to help you remember.”


“Remember what?”


“Who you really are.”


“But I know who I…” and then she stopped and remembered the mirror.


“Right,” said the raven as he tried lifting his hurt wing. He winced.


“What do I need to do?”


“Remove the masks.”


“Masks?”


“The ones you’ve been collecting since before you were born.”


“I don’t know what you mean.”


“You do not know who you are,” said the raven. “You don’t recognize yourself. And the person you see in the mirror you hate. You do not like who you have become.


“Yes,” she said starring at the floor.


“It’s the masks,” he said.


“I don’t remember wearing any masks.”


“I believe you,” said the raven, “now please, let’s actually do this to my wing first, I’ll be able to concentrate better on you. Pull my wing gently from right here near the shoulder and lift it ever so slightly and then gently, gently, press it in and towards my body.”


With a deep gulp she slowly did as he requested. He screeched sending her tumbling backwards.
And then he was flapping around the room, strutting with great glee.

“It worked!” he shouted, “Nicely done! So much better!” And for a few moments he preened his feathers starring at her with eyes the color of black blood.


“Now,” he said, “let’s begin.”


She tried to speak but he interrupted her.


“Just listen,” said the raven, “this is only a beginning, and there isn’t a finish line. This work is eternal. We are just going to make it so you at least remember your real name. That’s a great start. Most people don’t get to that point. Once you do that though, the other masks will lift off almost of their own power and you will become lighter and lighter, more you than ever.” And as he spoke, he guided her on a journey within herself, where she began lifting off the masks of the people in her life. As some of the masks were removed, she wept; with others she raged; with others she threw up into the trash can; with others she shook for hours. Mask by mask, she uncovered who she really was. She got in touch with her body, with some of the memories she had long ago hidden. She slowly began accepting herself as herself. She would look in the mirror and catch glimpses of the person she always wanted to be; the person she really was underneath all the masks. The person she loved.


The raven stayed by her side for the rest of her life. And wonder of wonders, with every mask she removed, he shifted his shape. First he became a horse, then a black bear. Then he became an owl, and then a panther. And one day, after she had removed a particularly old and worn out mask, one that crimped her skin with its brittleness, she looked towards her shape-shifting friend, and he was an angel—winged, dark as night, and yet somehow radiant as the stars.


“Now,” he said, “are you beginning to remember your real name?”


“I think so,” she said, “but if I’m right, won’t that be the end? I mean you said there wasn’t a finish line, but if I remember my real name and who I really am, won’t that be it? Game over?”


“Not at all,” said the angel smiling like a crescent moon, “it only means you can begin doing everything you always wanted to do. It only means you will begin looking at this unmasking work as a grace-filled, wonderful adventure and privilege. It simply means you will shine like you were meant to shine. It simply means those around you will begin to look at you with awe and reverence, for so few people know who they are, and when they get into the presence of someone who knows their real name, they will seek out your wisdom. So tell me,” he whispered as he stopped to look her in the eyes, “what is your name?”


After a few moments of luminous chills coursing through her body, and tears of gratitude streaming down her face, she said, “Freedom. My name is Freedom.”

 


 

 

 




Copyright Joseph Anthony of the Wonder Child Blog