Soldiers Died For People Like Me, a Memorial Day Message, by Jennifer Angelina Petro

Soldiers Died For People Like Me,

A Memorial Day Message

by

Jennifer Angelina Petro

 

 

Memorial Day must suck for the extremist right-wing-white men in our country.

They get all emotional on this day for all the fallen soldiers. And for good reason.

However, they need to understand those fallen soldiers fought for the rights of people on the #LGBTQIA spectrum. They fought for the rights of women, minorities, the poor, the uninsured, Planned Parenthood, senior citizens, and all the Muslims living in our country, and the environment, the right to impeach a barbarian president.

The alt-right white “christian” KKK-loving men can’t get around this truth. And it must really piss them off.

Of course, some of wars were unjust, wrong, a political pawn. Some however, were not. Some, I suppose, needed to be fought.

Thinking of those people who died to help keep America safe, we need to remember they died for people like me.

 

easter me

 

 

 


 


Any donations specifically from this post will be in turn, donated to Veteran’s Mental Health Programs. <3


Some Thoughts on the Gender Binary and Everything Else in Between, by Jennifer Angelina Petro

Some Thoughts on The Gender Binary

And Everything Else

In Between

By

Jennifer Angelina Petro

 

 

What I am about to share is going to piss somebody off.  Seems that way about most everything I say nowadays.  However, if you truly have faith in your God, or you truly have faith in who you are as human being, then what you are about to read should not be threatening to anything you believe or experience.  This is not to say that what I have written here is perfect.  Far from it.  Language barriers, prejudices, and fears—yours and my own– make that impossible.  Let’s get on with it.  I am ready for the mean, hateful, harmful, and trolling comments from “both” sides (and “both” is in quotations because well, you’ll see). I am also ready for nice comments.  I am inviting them too. I hope.

I will give you that the idea of the binary exists.  I know, many scientists today say the gender binary doesn’t exist in the ways we’ve traditionally thought, and I totally support their findings.  That said, the idea of polarities exists. It is seemingly everywhere—day and night, cold and hot, light and dark, rainy days and clear days, fire and water, sky and earth.  Having given you that, you will inevitably need to give me, that there isn’t, and never will be, a truly individuated or separate representation or living form that will ever exist on the opposite ends of the binary.  For the opposite ends of the binary are only ideas, even if they are created by God. If this scares you, then so must the idea of the morning, or of the evening, or rainbows, or singing.

The opposite ends of the binary only exist to overtake the other—swallow it up, merge within in it, into and unto, itself—not in battle, never forced—but in dance and song, and flavor.  That is the miracle, that is the beginning of all things.  The purpose of the binary is not to separate, but to join, merge, and hence, create.

No one can imagine the idea of the opposites without seeing, feeling, experiencing, knowing, or witnessing that they are all in some relationship with the other.

Go ahead, stand on the earth without forever being also in the sky.  Be in the middle of a perfectly sunny day and not know that evening is already on its way.  Step into a pool that you want not too hot and not to cold.  You get what I’m saying.

Having given you that the binary exists as theoretical reference points (I know, I know, the Bible says God created male and female and it also says: Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones,” or, “God brought them out of Egypt; he hath as it were the strength of an unicorn.”   I know, I know, you can take a verse of the Bible and use it to back up even the most outlandish ideas.  Like this one: “Slaves, obey your earthly masters with deep respect and fear. Serve them sincerely as you would serve Christ.”  I know you can take the fact that God killed about 25 million people in the Bible to represent the killing of our unbelief or to justify the slaughter of unbelievers, but then again, so do some Muslims).  It is high time and low time, to grasp and let go, once and for all, and forever anew, the idea that the front of a coin can be separated from the back.  They exist because of one another and because of what they manifest—and in the case of human existence—they manifest all that is wonderful (not the coins themselves, but what they represent, well, not what they represent, but what they demonstrate).

Cold is nothing unless heat exists.  Up means nothing without down.  Music is only heard in silence. Purple only arises between shades of blue and shades of red. Death prowls and life blooms.  It is the space between them that brings forth all things; where all things wondrous, flavorful, truthful (yes, truthful), and just plain living—exist.  It is in the mingling where the fun begins.

Two people do not have sex in order to annihilate the other.  They have sex to blend together, breathe and gasp together, come together.  It is this joining of bodies, souls, hearts, and minds that brings forth life.

I know, I just got done saying the opposite ends of the binary only exist to overtake the other.  Remember what I also said—the true opposite ends of the binary do not exist except in theory.  You will never find them in life—no man is ever just a man—he has his “feminine” side.  No woman is ever just a woman.  She will have her “masculine” side.  God becomes the mother hen to keep us safe under his wings.  No night is ever not slipping into day.

And that is my point.  Living is in the union.  Fun is in the merging.  Wonder is in the rainbow.  Beauty is in the evening sky.

So please, just as you cannot deny the idea of the binary, you cannot deny the existence of infinite variety, or of the intricate, heavenly, ever-expanding spectrum between the opposite ends of that binary.

I know, there are flaws in what I say.  Language makes things messy and muddles meaning up. You can easily take my words and use them to prove the exact opposite of what I am saying.  That being what it is—you cannot lose sight (well, you can out of your own shadowy, shame-based fears—and we all have them) that all the good stuff lives within and on and with and along a spectrum.  And nothing in between threatens the existence of the binary. The binary will always be the idealized ideas of opposites in the same way day and night will be always be idealized ideas of opposites.  I do not use the word “idealized” to mean better.  I mean it to say, the ultimate opposite ends of the spectrum only exist as ideas.  They never truly manifest, one without the other.

Go ahead, flip a coin.  Not only does it rise, tumbling upwards into the air, it also tumbles down landing on either heads or tails—and these will never exist one without the other—front and back. But I said that already, and I will say it again, at risk of being repetitive (the crusty idea of the idealized binary has been repeated for eons, but so has the idea that God creates souls to burn them in hell, or that the earth is flat, or that slavery is ever a human thing to do). So, I repeat:

It is the stuff that exists along the spectrum that is most intensely alive.  It is the dance between stillness and movement, music and silence, light and darkness, male and female, death and life that makes existence wonderful.  We are born, we die, and it is the living in between that gives either of these meaning (and please don’t think I am associating masculinity with light and darkness with femininity. Remember, however, that language is goofy.  Then again, feel free to associate anything with anything—you’ll get a good idea of how you live your life).

The spectrum is undeniable, and completely, and utterly, wondrously, beautiful, vibrant, and living.

So please do not tell me I do not exist as a transgender person.  I am a living arc–a living rainbow “across” genders. Please do not tell my queer friends, non-binary friends, asexual friends, and so on—that they do not exist.  We are the beauty and meaning of the ideas of so-called, male and female.  We are what is meant to be celebrated because the true opposites will never exist in form.  Murder is not always bad or the Christian religion would mean nothing.  Rebellion is not always bad or else freedom would not exist.  This is not relativism. This is reality.  No one loves without a hint of hate.   No one prays without a hint of doubt.

People like me are the rainbows, we are the mornings and evenings, we are that place where stars and darkness dance.  We are the perfect temperature for swimming.  We are the space between inhaling and exhaling.  We are the glorious existence of form.  And we include all gender identities, all gender expressions, every gender preferences, every rainbow, every song, and every breath.  And so then, we include you.

Do not fear the rainbow.  Go find it, and take out your phones and snap pictures of it.  Give thanks to Goddess for it. Take a selfie with it in the background.  It is a sign that God will never again destroy the earth with a flood—a flood of ignorance, fear, bigotry, or hatred.  The rainbow is the spectrum that blooms from the skies of our souls.

 

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All donations go to medical bills and groceries.  Thank you for your support.

When Mother’s Day Doesn’t Quite Fit, By Jennifer Angelina Petro

 

When Mother’s Day Doesn’t Quite Fit

 

By

 

Jennifer Angelina Petro

 

 

As I was reminded at church today, Mother’s Day may be hard for some people. Some, like me, have lost their mother’s–in my case, six years ago. And while I can still celebrate her life she isn’t physically present to go out to lunch with or something like that. Others never had a mother–in the sense of one being present in their lives. Others couldn’t have children and desperately wanted to. Others have lost their children to miscarriages or other tragedies. Still others have had mothers who were abusive or negligent. And still others have a strained relationship with their mothers, and some mothers have a strained relationship with their children.

There are also people like me–people who lived most of their parenting lives as “Dad.” I will always be Dad to my kids–I know I was a father to them and I am glad for that. I am also their mother. So, for me, Mother’s Day is very special. I get to parent in a whole new way and in the same ways I did before coming out. Luckily for me my kids are amazingly supportive and I have already received Mother’s Day greetings from them. However, I am also one of those people who has always (even before coming out as trans) ached to be able to have children—I was always deeply envious of pregnant mothers. I have always ached to be able to nurse a child. I have come to accept neither of these things will ever happen–and I am no less a mother. So, to all the non-binary “Moms” or people who act as mothers to others–regardless of their gender. Happy Parent’s Day to you.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the people out there who mother other people’s children—teachers, nurses, doctors, librarians.  Blessings to all the foster moms and moms who have adopted children from around the world or their own communities.

And to all the grandmothers and aunts who have taken on the role of mother again because of special circumstances.  Blessings to all the grandmothers who simply get to grandmother grandchildren, and do so with wisdom.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the single Dads who serve as mothers all day, everyday.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the people who have consciously chosen to not bear or raise children.  I am willing to bet there is someone or something in your life that you mother, and do so with grace, dignity, and love–be that a pet, a plant, a poem, or a person.

And of course, Happy Mother’s Day to ourselves–no matter who we are–for we all, one day, must begin, and never stop, mothering ourselves. It is just the way that it is–we all become our own mother’s one day–giving birth over and over again to ourselves.

To wrap up I would like to lift up all those for whom Mother’s Day is a hard day. Your soul and spirits are Mothers. You have been mothered by the world. You are Mothers of the world.

And also grieve, or be angry. Seek safe support to be with you today as you move through any difficult or challenging feelings and memories.

You are loved. You are special. And you are held in the hands of Mother Gaia.

 

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


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

A Light Hearted and Heavy Hearted Incomplete List of Common Traits Shared by TransPeople Like Myself, Based Mostly on Empirical Data, by Jennifer Angelina Petro

 

A Light-Hearted and Heavy-Hearted

Short and Incomplete List of Common Traits

Shared by TransPeople

Like Myself

Based Mostly on Empirical Data

By Jennifer Angelina Petro

 

 

 

These are not in any particular order, and yes, of course, cisfolks can have some of these traits too, but who cares. This list is not meant to separate us or further stereotype us.  It is meant as affirmation, celebration, and interesting information.

 

 

We like sci-fi.

We like video games—playing them, creating them.

We like memes and GIFS—creating them, posting them, reading them.

Many of us are often on the spectrum—the autism spectrum.

We are incredibly creative—artistically, musically…

We are often gifted writers.

We are kind, generous, and fiercely loyal.

We are activists, both by birth and by choice.

We have amazingly fabulous fashion sense.

We are survivors.

We are resilient.

We have fantastic taste in music.

Many of us are highly empathic to the point of being empaths.

Many of us like animation—anime, manga. Stephen Universe, etc.

We are extremely intelligent.

We can hold and cherish and protect the truth better than almost anyone.

We are often musicians.

Many of us love animals—cats, dogs, rats, hedgehogs, reptiles, etc.

Many of us know how to experience fear and keep going anyway.  And those that don’t someday will.

Some of us belong to pagan, wiccan, or some other more “earthy” type of spiritual tradition.

Many of us have youtube channels intended to help, inspire, support, and educate trans and non-trans.

Many of us are asked invasive or inappropriate questions.

Many of us are made to feel like we need to prove and/or justify that we exist.

Many of us get stared at when we are out in public.

Some of us carry mace when going out alone.

Many of us have been threatened, harassed, assaulted, demonized, and rejected, and yet we still hold true to the truth of who we are.

Many of us experience severe anxiety and fear when out in public and have to use the bathroom.

Too many of us have been murdered for who we are, and by too many, I mean one is too many.

Too many of us take our own lives because of bullying, nonacceptance, stress, and fear, and by too many I mean one is too many.

Some of us struggle with deep dysphoria; some of us do not.

Some of us exist in hiding for years, decades, or even our entire lives.

Some of us struggle with loving our bodies, our voices, certain body parts., etc; some of us do not.

Some of us hate our lives and names before coming out; some of us do not.

Some of us LOVE wearing makeup, binders, etc.; some of us do not.

Many of us have at least one ally (and often more than one) in our corner.

Many of us have different hair colors than the common brown, black, or blond.

Many of us do not have access to healthcare.

Many of us have family members who reject us.

Many of us have at least one or two family members who accept us.

Many of us are unemployed and/or find it extremely difficult finding a job.

Many of us are living in poverty.

Some of us are forced to live on the streets.

Some of us choose to be sex workers for survival and to save money for surgeries (and yes, some choose to be sex workers because we like it).

Many of us seek various forms of surgeries or procedures to help make ourselves more comfortable in our true gender.   Many do not.  Most cannot due to finances and/or lack of healthcare.

Some of us have passing as one of our goals; some of us do not.

Most of us are utterly hilarious and have a great sense of humor (albeit sometimes, wry, dark, or jaded).

Many of us are “TransWhoVians”—transpeople who like Dr. Who.

All of us fucking rock.

All of us are amazing.

All of us are living lights.

All of us matter.

All of us are just plain human (except those from other planets).

All of us are brave even when we’re afraid.

All of us need to stick together.

All of us need to know there is no one way, or right way, or wrong way to be trans.

What traits can you add to this list?

 

 

 


 

 

 




All donations go towards food and medical expenses.  Thank you for your support.

TransHaiku (Transgender-Inspired Haiku) by Jennifer Angelina Petro

Some TransHaiku

By

Jennifer Angelina Petro

 

 

 

Look in the mirror,

The self you’ve always wanted,

The rebirth is now.

 

*

 

What is in my pants?

The question so many ask.

Revealing their fear.

 

*

 

As I shave my breasts

Making them smooth as lilies,

I adore myself.

 

*

 

Walking through the spring,

Flowers and buds are in bloom,

This I understand.

 

*

 

Swallowing the pills,

The moonlight of estrogen,

Supporting my truth.

 

*

 

I am the spring,

A revelation of flowers,

A transgender bloom.

 

 

 

 


 

 

 


All donations go towards buying groceries and medicine.


Hidden Heritages, by Jennifer Angelina Petro

Hidden Heritages

A poem celebrating being trans

inspired by attending a workshop with Starhawk

By

Jennifer Angelina Petro

 

 

 

In the art of ritual

common, everyday things

take on new meaning.

The tree roots snaking

above the ground can

symbolize emergence

as well as determination

of will; the padlock pressed

into the grass by the grave

can mean secrets protected

forever; the strategically timed

coffee break which lets you

step into the sun, or the stone

you place in the center

of the meeting room table

while no one is looking

can both represent your ability

to live in truth—the solid, bed-rock

of truth, and both seamlessly blend

the magical with the logistical;

words and gestures translate intentions

and speak hidden heritages

between people not sharing a bloodline;

your every move can bind or loosen spirits;

every political action taken for good

and for the sake of children

will always be the highest form

of ritual; and this body—

this transformation of the mundane

feminine and the mundane masculine

into magical possibilities, declares

that spirit cloaked in flesh manifests

every need, every desire, every foundational

truth into being, into living wonder,

into the sacred space of what is

and what can be.

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 




Donations go to help pay medical bills, rent, and food.

Initial Reflections on Changing My Name, By Jennifer Angelina Petro

Initial Reflections on Changing My Name

By

Jennifer Angelina Petro

crystal-unicorn

 

Today I got word the courts approved my name change.  I am officially Jennifer Angelina Petro. I am challenged to put into words just how happy this makes me feel, but you know I’m going to try.

Imagine being misgendered for 47 years.  Imagine the dissonance caused by not knowing who I really was, and that not knowing boiling subterranean in my consciousness–simmering like molten metal for decades before I knew what was going on.  The dissonance permeated all areas of my life and I didn’t know what it was about.  The only thing I knew was that something was wrong.   What that something was however, was a mystery.

When the molten metal finally spilled over into my conscious life and sent my armor melting to bits I realized the truth:  I am a woman.  Always have been.  No matter what the doctors said, no matter what my name said, no matter what my place in life as a parent and spouse said—I am a woman.  I have spoken many times about the euphoria that came with the realization—the centeredness, the completeness, the sheer joy and utter amazement.  And despite my life circumstances being rather in shambles, that certainty and joy about knowing who I am remains.

And now the courts have given their blessing on my name change.  And while the happiness at this news is great—beyond great—it is tinged with melancholy.  Joseph has been gradually fading more and more off stage since Spring 2015.  And he has done so with class and grace.  I have also written before about how much I love and respect Joseph for keeping me safe all those years.  He wants me center stage.  He wants living this one, wild, and tender life.

And yet as I watch him go I realize in a very real sense he was never there—not in fullness and in truth.  Joseph lived a ghost-life, a phantom life—dissociating everywhere he went.  And he did so to distract the world from me in order to keep me safe until the time was right and ripe for my arrival into the conscious reality of who I am as Jennifer.

So, in truth I was never male, no matter what my body looked like and the things it did.  I have always and ever been female.  I have always and ever been Jennifer.  Joseph was a cloak.  Jennifer the soul and spirit—and yes, she is the cloak too.  No matter what was in my pants or what I thought I was or the world thought I was—Jennifer is the one and only reality of who I am.  And it is my hope your love, acceptance, friendship, and desire to be in relationship with me isn’t conditional based upon what was or is in my pants, or what was or is my name, gender marker, gender identify, or sexual preference.

Esoteric thoughts aside, I am moved to tears as I embrace fully this next stage of my journey.  Jennifer Angelina Petro can now be announced to the world.  Oh, sure there is much paper work to do and forms to fill out and I am sure there will be a fair share of hassles and rigmarole, but it’s OK.  I know who I am.  And little by little, as all the paper work gets finished, my name—my chosen name to represent ME will become more and more accepted in the wider world.

I am grateful for the legal department at the Mazzoni Center, and in particular, Barri Friedland.  She was the shepherdess who helped guide this lost soul to her true name.  In a very real sense I can plug in the words “I once was Joseph, but now am Jennifer,” to the tune of Amazing Grace.  Yes, I know, I have always been Jennifer, but the point is I was lost as Joseph and didn’t even know it.  Barri, and the legal team at the Mazzoni Center, worked pro-bono to be sure Jennifer was found and embraced by the whole world.  I am so grateful.

Thank you for loving me and sticking with me all these years.

 

rainbow-heart

 

 

 


 

 




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

Conversations With Joseph

One Transwoman’s Experience

With Her Assigned Self

Part One

By

Jennifer Angelina Petro

 

 

Introduction

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

me-5-years-old0008

 

Conversation One: Driving Together

 

 

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

 

Joseph (smiling):        I remember.

 

Jennifer:                      It was a powerful experience for me.

 

Joseph (laughing):      Me too.

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

Joseph:                        It’s OK.  It was time.

 

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

and always have been, a gentleman.

 

Joseph:                        Thank you. You are beloved to me.

 

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

 

Joseph:                        You were saying something else though.

 

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

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

 

Joseph:                        I know. I know you Jennifer.

 

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

child went off to college, you looked so proud.

 

Joseph:                        I was.  I am.

 

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

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

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

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

me out of the nest, weren’t you?

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

Jennifer (laughing):    You left so willingly.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

my own to be independent.

 

Joseph:                        And?

 

Jennifer:                      And I was wrong.

 

Joseph:                        How so?

 

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

 

[Joseph lays his hand on Jennifer’s.]

 

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

 

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

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

speak, I turned right around and came back.

 

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

you were just visiting.

 

Joseph:                        We’re all just visiting.

 

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

 

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

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

truth, I never actually left you.

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

driving the car?

 

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

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

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

 

Jennifer:                      Do you forgive me?

 

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

 

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

free.  There is nothing to forgive.

 

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

 

Jennifer:                      Thank you.

 

Joseph:                        You’re welcome.

 

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

 

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

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

 

Joseph:                        Yes.  I would love to.

 

Jennifer:                      I might crash.

 

Joseph:                        I’ll wear my seatbelt.

 

Jennifer:                      I might get lost.

 

Joseph:                        Then we’ll see unexpected things.

 

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

 

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

when.  Remember—

 

Jennifer:                      You are my servant.

 

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

 

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

 

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

‘Job Description For Keeping Jennifer Safe.’

 

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

 

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

[Joseph hands the note to Jennifer.]

 

Joseph:                        Here.

 

[Jennifer takes the note and unfolds it.]

 

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

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

when necessary.”

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

[Jennifer hands the note back to Joseph.]

 

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

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

 

Jennifer:                      It feels like it.

 

Joseph:                        Good.  Because it is.

 

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

 

Joseph:                        Read the note again.

 

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

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

 

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

 

Jennifer:                      I love you Joseph.

 

Joseph:                        Thank you.  I love you too.

 

[Jennifer looks back down at the note.]

 

Jennifer:                      So it changes?

 

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

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

 

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

 

Jennifer (standing):    Let’s go somewhere.

 

Joseph:                        Whatever you say.

 

Jennifer:                      Let’s get something to eat.

 

Joseph:                        Indian?

 

Jennifer:                      Pizza.

 

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

 

me-recent


 

 





There is No One Way to Be Trans or the Number Three, by Jennifer Angelina Petro

There Is No One Way to Be Trans, or the Number Three

by

Jennifer Angelina Petro

 

 

There is no one way to be trans just as there is no one way to express, well, anything, even, let’s say, numbers.  The number three is a quantitative value that can be expressed with three acorns, three pieces of candy, three pennies, a triangle, a tripod, and so on.  It can be expressed as 3, III, or three—not to mention how it is expressed in the many different languages of the world.  The fundamental value of a three does not change because of how it is written or illustrated, or expressed or in what language it is referred to in.  Transpeople are fundamentally human beings who just so happen to exist and express themselves on a spectrum of infinite variety.

I could care less how “feminine” I look in some respects, in others I do, but the point is, I choose what is right and true and comfortable and fun for me.  I do not base my gender identity or expression on what the world might think is most “feminine.”  Three pencils and three jolly ranchers both express “threeness” equally validly, and “correctly.”  I express the value of “transness” not wearing makeup just as much as another transperson wearing tons of makeup.

I have met transwomen who were trapped (or so it seemed to me) in the traditional gender binary.  And this is sad.  And can be tragically sad.  Some transwomen try so hard to fit in to what they perceive is the “right” feminine gender norm and kill themselves when they perceive they can’t or don’t.  Some transwomen seemingly buy into the same misogynistic impressions of “femininity,” that many cis-gendered people do.

This past year in which I came out, several transwomen have told me I will never “pass,” unless I fix my eyebrows.  Of course, I had no idea my eyebrows were broken AND I had no idea “passing” was the goal. I thought being my authentic self was. If that includes passing, cool; if it doesn’t, still cool.

One transwoman, a few years older than myself, recently said, after looking me over:

“Have you ever heard of the uncanny valley?”

I hadn’t.

“Well, it’s the idea that some robots and zombies and aliens, etc. make humans feel eerie and uncomfortable because they appear to look CLOSE to human, but aren’t.”

“I see,” I said, while inside drifting steadily into a protective dissociative state (really).

“You just need to fit in more,” she went on without mercy, “work on your makeup, your hair is too flat, your clothes, well, your clothes are OKAY, but you can work on those too.  And your eyebrows…they are way too big.  You haven’t feminized your voice or your moves—your walk.”

Later, after much reflection and a healthy dose of needing to be talked down from a highly triggered state of dysphoria, I thought about just how sad it must be to be her.

She is stuck—I daresay—bound–to the belief that the task of a transwoman is to fit into “American” society’s prevailing views of what women should look like.  If I would only “feminize” myself in such ways, this would, in her mind, make me look more “human,”—less threatening to the “normies.”  If I would just toe the line of “traditional,” “American,” “feminine” ideals then I would find a job and a place to live.  I wouldn’t be so depressed.

I also realized later on that I must be a threat to her on some levels.  She was likely told and bought into the idea that she had to look a certain way in order to be a “real” woman, a woman who “passes,” or a woman who, at very least, doesn’t draw attention to herself.  There are, of course, very real safety concerns for some transwomen, but I think in this case, I must have contradicted decades of, what deep-inside she must view as, her wasted time, money, and life trying to “fit in.” Turns out you can be trans and not have to look a certain way, not have to give a fuck about fitting in.  Something she may never have been told.  Something she cannot bear to hear.

The fact that I don’t wear makeup must fly in the face of her “traditions” about what women should and should not do.  The fact that I don’t care about covering my five-o’clock shadow might make her upset for all the money and time she spent on electrolysis or expensive makeup, not to mention the time she spent shaving, and so on.  The fact that I don’t care how fluffy my eyebrows are might make her resentful at herself for all the countless hours she spent plucking, waxing, trimming, shaping, or threading her eyebrows—and here I am—a whipper-snapper transwoman—who comes along and says: “Um, I’m trans, and I have fluffy eyebrows.  Fuck you.”

Of course it is completely possible she looks the way she does, and does the things to help herself look the way she does, because she likes it, because she chooses it consciously, thinks it’s fun, affirming, liberating, and so on.  And that’s all totally fine, totally acceptable, totally trans.  And when I dress the way I dress or choose not to “feminize” myself in the ways others think I should, I am also acting perfectly, acceptably, and totally, wonderfully trans.

So let’s get some things straight, because there are some things in the world that need to be straight, and these are a few of them:

 

1). There is no one way to be trans.

2). There is no right or wrong way to be trans.

3). Transgender folks are human beings just like everyone else.  We do not belong to any uncanny valleys.  Uncanny valleys are stupid.

4). There is no one way to be a woman, a man, or genderfluid, genderqueer, asexual, bisexual, gay, lesbian, a child, a dog, a puppy, cat, whale, moose, tree, or sky.

5). There is no need for transgender policing in the transgender community.

 

Those are eternal truths just as the number three will always and ever be a three.  A thousand years from now you can hold three pieces of stardust in your hands and they will still represent the number three. A thousand years from now the idea of uncanny valleys will still be stupid.

A penis is most commonly found on “men.”  A vulva most commonly found on “women.”  But that doesn’t mean they are the only places for those organs to be found, and further more they do not define the gender of a human being any more than an arm, leg, nose, liver, or knee cap does.  I am a woman with a penis.  And I don’t like wearing makeup very much.  And further-further more, I just divulged a very personal bit of information about myself because I chose to.  In actuality, what anyone has or does not have in their pants, skirt, spacesuit, etc. is none of your business, and if you think it is, then perhaps the idea of the uncanny valley IS valid because it would then apply to you.

I am a transwoman with fluffy eyebrows.  I am a transwoman who still likes her voice.  I am a transperson who doesn’t believe in “dead names.”  And I am still perfectly, wonderfully a number three, a person, a transperson, a woman who just so happens to be powerful, creative, and full of life.  I am a person who just so happens to be fed up with the policing that goes on in some trans communities.  A person who cares deeply about the young transfolk coming up behind us.

They need to be accepted completely and fully for who they are and how they want or need to express themselves.  They need us.  They need us strong, together, and smart.  They need us to have their backs.  They need us to look in the mirror and at one another, and at THEM, and see love—pure and simple expressions of infinite variety.

 

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