On My Third Birthday of Coming Out as Transgender, September 18, 2018, By Jennifer Angelina Petro

On My Third Birthday of Coming Out as Transgender

By

Jennifer Angelina Petro

 

 

Last year I wrote about the fears I had of the upcoming winter.  Fall and winter are often the worst times of year for me mentally.  Two years ago, I went to the hospital twice in the span of two months for suicidality. Last year, with medicine, a wonderful therapist, Kellie Brunton of Ambler, PA, friends, a loving community at Love in Action UCC in Hatboro, PA, my poetry, and spiritual life, I had the best winter I have yet to have as far as mental stability is concerned.  I am so grateful.

This fall is more foreboding.  I know I need an adjustment in my meds.  I feel myself sliding backwards (deeper?) into my mental illness.  Fleeting thoughts of suicide and self-harm travel through my mind on a daily basis.  And while they are passive thoughts—they are there more than they’ve been in a long time.

I begin this annual update on my trans-journey because it is, for me, part and parcel of my experience.  By that I do not mean to suggest that I am mentally ill as a result of being trans.  No.  Being transgender IS NOT a mental illness, and while coming out three years ago blew up my life and that certainly didn’t help my mental illnesses, bring trans is a gift—-it is not, in any way, a mental illness.

My mental illnesses are part and parcel of my trans experience because they exist side-by-side, or, better put, are interwoven. So, to read this update on my Coming-Out-Birthday is to read also about my mental health, or lack thereof.

All that said, it’s been an exciting year with regards to trans-activism.  I’m fortunate to have been featured on an episode on the Internationally famous, Liz Plank’s, Divided States of Women. The episode also featured my faith community, Love in Action UCC (LIA).  I was also featured in a front-page article in the Philadelphia Inquirer that also celebrated the wonderful work being done by LIA.  Most importantly, LIA and myself helped Hatboro, PA, pass a human rights ordinance to help protect people of the LGBTQIA community.  It was an honor to be able to speak before the major (the incredibly badass, Nancy Guenst) and the City Council.  I have also led LGBTQIA support groups at LIA, local libraries, marched in marches, written to political figures, given workshops on what it is to be trans, and will be performing in October for the important revue of This is My Brave—a national organization for helping end the stigma of mental illness. I was also honored to be the first ever representative of the LGBTQIA community at Glenside Elementary School’s Diversity Festival.

These many opportunities for activism in both trans-causes and helping to end the stigma of mental illness, have been rewarding and hopeful.  And I need to be careful.

The more I do, the more I run the risk of careening into mania and then depression.  It is still an evolving process of learning to navigate feeling joy and being manic.  At least I am aware that this is a danger.  That said, I am missing more of the signs of mental health relapse, which is why I know I need an adjustment in meds.  In addition to transient thoughts of self-harm, mania has been slowly encroaching on my life and I am struggling with some of the symptoms of my mania—compulsive spending, eating, grandiose thoughts, plans, and ideas, racing thoughts, sleepless nights, the struggle to try and slow down both mentally and physically—the drive to plough through life is intense, as well as a myriad of other manifestations.  All of this impacts my trans-experience by making dysphoria worse, by making the anxiety to leave my apartment even to just go shopping worse—alongside, paradoxically, the increased amount of publicity I am both seeking and being sought after for trans activism.

I don’t know where it’s all leading.  I am still unemployed.  I came close to getting a couple teaching jobs, but they both fell through.  I continue to joyously volunteer at LIA helping direct an LGBTQIA Center at LIA, and that goes a long way towards helping keep my mental illness in check.

My finances, thanks to being bipolar and being unemployed, are worse than ever.  I have to appear in debtors court in a couple weeks.  I am close to filing for bankruptcy, and I have no savings of any kind.

I’ve had to move yet again, and although I am now living in the most adorable apartment, it was a huge stress to move for the third time in two years.  I am hopeful this new space will be long-term.  I love it here.

I continue to have the love and support of my ex, and the kids.  We went on a family vacation for the first time in probably six years this summer.  We went to the Redwoods and Sequoias, and was the funnest time, for me, our family has ever had together.

Poetry is still my beloved friend.  Music too.

I continue to do healing where my sexual abuse traumas are concerned, and while that work is gut-wrenching, it is, of course, crucial, and ultimately transforming and liberating.

My father passed away last spring and that brought many challenges with family and the coming to terms with his not speaking with me the last nine months of his life.  I sent him pictures of myself and after that, all communication ceased.  I wasn’t permitted to go to his funeral because I’m trans, which was incredibly painful.  My brother, however, arranged a private viewing for me, and for that I am deeply grateful.  In addition, when he wrote the obituary, he referred to me as Jennifer.  I wept when I saw that.  He calls me Jennifer all the time now, and that means the world to me.

All-in-all, it’s been a challenging, rewarding, and busy year, and I am so glad I’m alive.  Being transgender—being a woman—is an evolution of transformation, wonder, and gratitude.  My transition has shifted a bit in my gender expression—I am comfortable now with some days not shaving, and I am presenting a little more non-binary, which is fine with me.  My definition of what it means to be “feminine,” is broadening, and that too, is fine with me—and important as well.  I have given up on dating–and by that I mean the complete lack thereof.  I am gradually accepting that a long-term relationship is simply not in the cards for me. Lastly, with regards to my physical transitioning, I am grateful to have had an orchiectomy, and that has gone a long way in being comfortable my own body.  Full gender affirmation surgery is probably not going to happen due to finances, and I am gradually surrendering to that.

Thank you for your continued support, encouragement, love, and care.  I am so blessed with so many wonderful friends.  I humbly request your prayers for where my mental health is concerned, and I ask you to continue writing to politicians, schools, places of worship advocating for the rights of LGBTQIA people, to coming with us to marches and protests, to keep sharing with your families, friends, and communities that LGBTQIA people are as deserving of human rights as anyone else.

Peace, my friends, I love you all.

Jenn

 

   

 


 


 


Boobs, By Jennifer Angelina Petro

Boobs

By

Jennifer Angelina Petro

 

Let’s talk about boobs–particularly my boobs. If you’re already thinking: “This is TMI”, then you might want to stop reading now. Anywho….

So, I’m growing boobs, and I like my boobs. I got a head start when I thought I was a “guy,” and had, “man-boobs.” Now I have a fun pair of boobs that I admire very much.

Up until this week I have worn a bra everywhere I go–and I loved it. I mean, I loved coming home and taking it off (especially doing the take-it-off-while-keeping-your-shirt-on-trick), but, in general, I liked bras. Mostly because they gave my boobs a nudge upwards. As much as I like my boobs I am not thrilled that I’m 50 and my boobs are forming an increasingly intimate relationship with gravity.

Yesterday I did something that I am very proud of. Doing it today too. This may not sound like a big deal to you, but for me, it is a big step in body-positivity and self-acceptance:

I chose to not wear a bra, and I went outside, shopping, etc. I just had a Pride t-shirt on and some capris……It felt SO liberating! I loved it. As I walked there was a little sensation of jiggling, and that made me feel giddy. At one point I walked by a store window and saw clearly that my nipples were proudly protruding from under my shirt. Even my bumply areolas were somewhat visible. I smiled.  I liked it.

And yes, I felt weird when people went by–several men and women looked at my chest as I walked around…and there were moments I felt really ashamed in general and felt compelled to cross my arms.

That said, as I mentioned, it was a freeing experience in body acceptance and, I daresay, a celebration. I’m very pleased with myself.

Yay, boobs! Free the boobs! Free the nipples! <3

 

 

 

 


 





Playing in the River of the Reality of Binary-Relativism, By Jennifer Angelina Petro

Playing in the River of the Reality of Binary-Relativism

By

Jennifer Angelina Petro

 

 

Try and take hold of the night.  What ends up filling your hands is darkness tinged with light, whether that be moonlight or starlight, there will be traces of the coming morning or the retreating sunset.

Likewise, try and take hold of the day.  What ends up filling your hands is light tinged with darkness, whether it be the shimmering shadows of the willow, or your own shadow, or that small, rushing anxiousness that evening is approaching much faster than your plans would like.

Night and day are ideas—in the truest sense they do not exist as opposites—they are ever and always touching, held together by a river that flows both ways.  I know, the “held together,” and “flowing both ways,” seem to contradict the idea that night and day are one.  Words are limited in scope and range.  And it is easier (safer) to write in ideas like black and white and the binaries of male and female.  You can try and wrap words (ideas) around other ideas and, at best, you come up with a poem, and, at worst, fear-based violence.

Why is it safer (easier) to write in terms of binary ideas? Describing day and night as light and dark is strangely comforting to those people who fear stepping into the river.  Describing greys, tones, gradations, the multitude of colors that inform sunsets and sunrises–this type of thinking requires more effort, more consciousness, and an openness to the idea of the infinite creativity of the God they believe in.  It is easier (and safer) to let one’s thinking be governed by ideas that appear to fit their notions of “the opposites.”

It’s the same with thinking of the idea of the so-called gender-binary.  Defining gender by body parts, chromosomes, and reproductive functions is the same basal reasoning as saying day and night can be defined by clocks and the amount of light we see or don’t see.  Reducing genders to body parts invalidates the manifestations of the inner and outer gender identities that so many experience in the reality of their lives.

Life flows in a circular current between the ideas of binaries.  The reality is spectrum, shadows, fading in and out colors, touches, whispers, hints, nuances—nothing exclusive unto themselves—travel West far enough and you slip into the East.  Rise North as far as you can go.  You will only descend into the South, like a waterfall.

This blending and interwoveness isn’t to be feared—not within the notions of day or night, male and female, mania and depression, faith and disbelief.  Everything touches.  Everything mixes.  What is created along that circular movement is peace, life, the aforementioned wonder, and yes, the infinite ways these ideas manifest in the river of the world.

But what of science?  Doesn’t it prove the idea of opposites?  Some people use science in the same way they use bibles—selectively.  While deriding the idea of the gender spectrum they propagate the ideas that climate change doesn’t exist, that the earth was created in six days, that all the animals of the world fit into an ark, and for some, that the earth is flat.

Science is crucial to the future of humanity. So is letting go of fear of change and the perceived threats to the family.  Erasing the idea of gender binaries doesn’t unleash havoc on the family.  Instead it opens up the definitions and manifestations of family.  It doesn’t mean the end of procreation.  It doesn’t mean the end of heterosexual, cisgender marriages.  All it does is threaten the shadow-desires some people feel but are trained to be experienced as deviance and to be felt as shame and fear.

The idea that binaries are ideas sometimes threatens people in other ways—particularly that the world will dissolve into relativism.  What is so threatening about that–whether that relativism be cultural or societal?  If the idea that there are no absolute truths threatens one’s spiritual security then where is their faith?  In reality, one cannot escape cultural relativism.  It’s the same with the ideas of black and white and the gender binaries.  For example, take a look at the word, “relativism.”  It’s clearly “related” to “relating,” ‘relations,” and “relationship.”  And these, in turn, can be traced back to the word, “refer,” which, means, in Latin, “to relate, and to carry back.”  Let’s carry the idea that gender is based on body parts back to the reality that some “men,” are born with vulvas, and some “women,” are born with penises or combinations of both.  Those aren’t ideas—those are realities.  They are not mutations or abnormalities—they are as natural as being born with a certain hair color.  What is the threat if someone knows they are a gender that may not correspond to the body parts that some people associate with a particular gender?  In reality, there is no threat.  The threat is fake news.

In the same way, relativism does not erase decades of fighting for women’s rights and feminism.  However, if modern feminism and the fight for respect, dignity, safety, jobs, pay rates, does not include transwomen and other people on the spectrum that identify as female, then it isn’t truly feminism.  It is as guilty as the extremist Christians that hold the old idea that in order to be female you need a vulva as defined by the confines of reproductive function.

All things are related, in relationship, and we can even have “relations.” These are realities.  The idea of night being related to the idea of day and the reality of these relationships can be experienced in our everyday lives, and no one is threatened.

Knowing binaries are ideas does not blur or muddy the waters of reality’s river.  They liberate us into realizing the infinite facets of the divine radiating prisms of color that touch the world with joy and wonder—in other words—variety—infinite variety.

Heaven hell, good and evil.  These are ideas inherently couched in relativism—cultural and spiritual.  Killing is wrong unless you’re defending your flag or religion, or the world from abortion; stealing is wrong unless you are trying to save your children; war is wrong unless it is for oil or to get rid of “evil doers,” who believe something different than you.  My religion is right because yours is wrong, my book says so, your book is wrong.  It’s silliness—dangerous, childish, fear-based silliness—and most of it propagated by men insecure of their own sexual/gender identities and possibilities.  Everyone knows how dangerous, cunning, manipulative, and cruel a man can be when scared.  History is full of men scared of losing something or scared of something being revealed and to prevent this they resort to violence.  And it is undeniable that many men who rail against homosexuality are found to possess porn, and or engage in sex with other men.  Why is that?  Because gender is a spectrum and something to be ashamed of.

Ask yourself reading this right now if it inspires you with vehement hatred, anger, and, if you’re extreme—violence?  If it does, I suggest you have little-to-no faith in your god—your beliefs, which are nothing more than ideas woven with communal feelings—are weak.  Indeed, they are relative.  You’re proving it by being upset.  If you’re living in the prison of the idea of binaries and you’re reading this, and you have some twinge somewhere within you—whether that be between your legs, in your heart, or in your mind—that moves you to the suppressed knowledge that you are actually happily gender-non-conforming—that you are perhaps a gender other than what your genitals say.  Most certainly it points to your shadow hiding conscious or unconscious secrets.  What if you’re feeling a secret, joyous sense of freedom as you read this? I suggest that indicates you are a true believer—in the sense that you believe in a god of infinite possibilities and varieties that in no way threatens anyone or anything—only your limited ideas.

Go play in the river.  You can’t drown in a river made of joy—unless you become afraid and slip back into the suffocating ideas that kept you from going near the river in the first place.  Look, there are others already there—splashing, swimming, and forming bridges called Fun and Freedom and Faith.  There is room for all.  Go be baptized in the infinite variety of your god.

 

 


 



International Women’s Day, Thursday, March 8 , 2018, By Jennifer Angelina Petro

International Women’s Day,

Thursday, March 8 , 2018

By

Jennifer Angelina Petro

 

 

I am a woman.

Born with a penis.

I am a woman who harbors the moon

In the center of her soul.

Born with YX chromosomes,

Low testosterone and high levels of estrogen,

So much so the doctors

Were concerned for her health.

I am a woman with a manta ray

Billowing in the dark waters of her heart.

I am a woman who went unrecognized

When she was born regardless

Of the hormones glowing in her body.

I am a woman who walks with the willows.

I am a woman given testosterone shots

When she was a child.

I am a woman born with Bast in her mind.

I am a woman who sired three sons.

I am a woman who steals through the woods

Like a ribbon of light.

I am a woman called, “Mister,”

For many of her adult years.

I am a woman who sings to each and every tree.

I am a woman with a voice

Everyone identifies as male except the trees.

I am a woman with hidden wings large enough

To drape around her body when she sleeps.

I am a woman who shaves her tits.

I am a woman who speaks stars and planets.

I am a woman who feels most comfortable physically in men’s underwear.

I am a woman who roars.

I am a woman who walks the world in fear for her life, yet walks anyway.

I am a woman who knows when you are secretly grieving.

I am a woman with hair on her fingers.

I am a woman with baskets of bread in her arms.

I am a woman most people do not want to see.

I am a woman with a spirit on fire for justice.

I am a woman who presents in ways so as to smash the tired binaries.

I am a woman with darkness in her eyes that leads to lakes hidden by trees.

I am a woman blessed to be born again and again.

I am a woman surrounded by ghosts of ladies in waiting.

I am a woman feared by men and their stunted desires.

I am a woman who raises the dead from the ground as she passes.

I am a woman feared by TERFS and their insecurities in their own femininity.

I am a woman who nests in her bed like a sleeping bear.

I am a woman feared to exist in the world.

I am a woman who bathes in flowers.

I am a woman with lotuses growing up her spine.

I am a woman with orchids watching from her thoughts.

I am a woman with tigers hiding in her laughter.

I am a woman followed by trooping faeries.

I am a woman walking side by side with a snowy unicorn of power.

I am a woman with herbs in her pockets and moss on her cloak.

I am a woman with hidden rivers of light in her touch.

I am a woman with the universe in her hair.

I am a woman who shatters skewed perceptions.

I am a woman who knows herself as the moon knows the trees.

I am a woman.

Born with a penis.

I am a woman changing the world.

I am a woman as divine as you.

 

 


 

 


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Zimzir and the Dragon, by Jennifer Angelina Petro

Zimzir and the Dragon

By

Jennifer Angelina Petro

 

 

Before Word

Being friends with a dragon takes some getting used to.  For one thing their digestive systems are always rumbling like an old car.  When they burp, which is often, foul smelling smoke comes out of both ends, and little spurts of fire sometimes ignite nearby curtains or sofas.  Another thing is that they sometimes eat people which is hard to explain to the authorities when they come looking for said eaten person.

However there are many benefits of being friends with a dragon.  For example, they eat people—people who are bullying you or harassing you, which really cuts down on being bullied when word spreads that people who pick on you end up disappearing, leaving only a few bits of hair and sneakers behind.  Another benefit is that they burp, and foul-smelling smoke comes out of both ends—which is another good deterrent for bullies—as are the little spurts of flames aimed at particularly sensitive areas on bullies.

You might be wondering why I have so many bullies flocking around me.  You see, I am trans—transgender.  And I’m a kid.  I was born nine years ago and everyone thought I was a boy.  And even though I was born with the parts that would make some people assume I was a boy, I am a girl, and I know I’m a girl.  My parents know now as well—after years of me insisting on wearing dresses they finally got it.  Not that dresses defines being a girl, but my folks are old-fashioned.

I am one of the lucky ones.  My parents both accept me.  I also have friends who do as well.  It wasn’t always that way though, and when I first came out things, shall we say, got ugly.  And that’s where being friends with Harbor came in handy.  Yes, Harbor is my friend dragon, and he does by ‘he.’  My name is well, we’ll get to that, and this is the beginning of many beginnings and the end of many endings and the beginning of many endings and well, you get the idea.

 

Zimzir and the Dragon.

As I said, my parents were told I was a boy when I popped out on a cold winter morning in January.  My parents named me, “Joseph.”  It was an OK name, except it didn’t fit.  At first, I didn’t understand why it didn’t fit. It just didn’t.  Sort of like accidentally putting both legs into a pair of pants.

My parents were pretty OK though, and so I began to grow up, or, well, as I like to think of it—grow down.  You see, I always felt like I was an alien or something.  Like I came from up there in space somewhere.  I just felt different from the earthlings around me.  And so, it took me a few years to come down, so to speak into this body I didn’t want or ask for.

When I was a toddler (which is a really funny word if you think about it) I used to toddle to the laundry basket (my family did do laundry, but always left the clean laundry in a basket in my parent’s room, and I knew this, so I would, as I said, toddle to it, and then, with some effort, toddle over and into it, sort of like a misguided cat).  Once in the basket I would do an artistic little dance as I sat there on the clean laundry with quite possibly a stinky diaper, which consisted of me throwing clothes around the room while I sang (the artistic little dance, that is, not my diaper).  “Sang” isn’t quite the right description of the vocalizations that came out of my mouth. My singing was more like cows yodeling.

While in the laundry basket I used to fish out the “women’s” clothes and wrap them around my head.  Then I would giggle and slobber into them.

And here I want to say that, of course, clothes (and toys, for that matter) (and well, anything for that matter, especially kids) (unless they want to be) should not be gendered.  So, I put “women’s” clothes in those little quotation mark thingies just to let you know I think it’s absurd that people think there is such a thing as “women’s” clothing.  For the rest of this story, however, I am not going to use quotation marks, mainly because they are annoying.  Trust though, whenever I mention women’s clothes or boy’s clothes, I mean (with a big roll of my eyeballs) (eyeballs is also a funny word) that I mean “women’s” clothes and “boy’s” clothes.

As I grew down some more, I used to go into my parent’s room and not only fish out my mom’s clothes, but I try it on and parade around the house. This made my mother laugh and my dad yell.

“Take those off, Joseph.  Those are girl’s clothes.  You’re a boy,” he would say.

To which mom would say: “Oh, honey he’s just pretending.”

To which I would say to myself: “No, I’m not.  These clothes might be too big for me now, but they are the kind of clothes I want to wear forever.”  And then I would take them off and treat them as if they were threaded with gold, and fold them up neatly and put them back in the laundry basket.

One day, when I was around seven, I was at my cousin, Annabelle’s house, and I stole one of her dresses and wore it to school the next day.  I felt so proud and happy.  It felt like I was wearing cool, refreshing sunshine.

Sitting in the principal’s office after getting sent there by my teacher for causing a ruckus in class just because I was wearing a dress, was the first time I remember wishing I had never been born.  “This sucks,” I thought, “I just want to be myself and everyone either gets mad or thinks I’m a joke.”

And while waiting for my mom to come bring me a change of clothes, I heard Harbor for the first time.

I say, “heard,” because the first thing I heard was a fart.  I looked around the office.  No one else was there but me.  Upon sniffing however, I knew someone, or something—judging by the intensity of the fart-smell—was with me.

Then I heard a burp and saw a little burst of smoke and flame appear in the middle of the room near the ceiling.  I jumped and let out a little scream.

“It’s alright,” said a voice that sounded like gentle thunder.  It was a sound that soothed me and resonated through my lungs, “It’s just me, Harbor.”

“Hhh-Hhh,” was all I could manage to say. I sort of sounded like I was practicing dramatic exhales.

“Harbor,” the voice said again, causing a little storm to wave pleasantly through my heart.

“Harbor?” I said, “But, where are you?”

“Right here,” came the voice.  And then, there—right there—in Principal-Poopy-Pant’s office (not his real name) (unfortunately), the air in front of me began to shimmer and quiver and take form and color and weight, and as it did, a dragon appeared before me—large, aqua green with purplish markings and wings folded neatly against the ceiling.

“You’re a dragon,” I sputtered, and my mouth, if it could have, would have opened down enough to hit the floor.

“Yup,” he said, “so I am.”

“What are you doing here?”

“I am here for you.”

“For me?” I gulped.  “Like, here to eat me?”

“Oh no,” said the dragon.  “I am here to be your companion.  If you will allow me, that is.”

“Why do you want to be my companion?  Do I need one?”

“Because I want to be.  I know what it’s like to not be accepted for who you know you really are.”

“You do?”

“Yes.  And ‘yes’ to your other question.  We all need companions sometimes, and you have an especially challenging journey ahead, and I am offering my services.”

“Services?” I asked.

“I will be your protector; guardian angel, if you will.”

“I see,” I said, “I’m not sure what to say.  I mean, here I am, in trouble again, talking to a dragon.  I’m not sure how I feel about that or having a protector—let alone a dragon protector.  I’ve always had to protect myself.  I’m used to it, even when I do a crumby job at it.”

“I see,” said the dragon, “are you saying you would rather me go?”

I hesitated a moment, and then said, “Yes.  I have always felt alone and that’s sort of how I like it—or at least, sort of like how I’m used to it.”

“That’s fair,” Harbor said, “I’ll just be going then.” And the dragon began to dissolve into the air.

“Wait,” I said, standing up for the first time since this encounter began, “can I change my mind?  You know, if I decide later I want a companion, can you, I mean, will you, still be there?”

“I’m sorry,” the dragon said, pausing in mid-disappearing into thin air, “I may not be here for you.  There are many like you who need protecting.  However, someone will always be there for you, even it isn’t me.”

And as I stared hard into Harbor’s eyes and saw nothing but oceanic light, and kindness, and wisdom, and a sly sense of humor, I found myself saying: “Wait, please.  Stay.  Actually, being alone kind of sucks.  Well, not all the time. Sometimes I love being alone and need to be alone and wish I could be alone forever, but in general, I have no one who accepts me as me, and you seem to.  So, will you stay?”

With that Harbor fully materialized into the office again and lowered its great head down to eye level and said: “It would be an honor.  And now, what shall I call you?”

I looked at the ground and shuffled my feet. “Well, my given name is ‘Joseph,’ but that’s not the name I want or call myself.”

“Well,” Little One in the Beautiful Dress, what would you like to be called?”

I looked up at Harbor and couldn’t believe I was about to tell someone the name I had always treasured secretly in my heart.

“It’s OK,” Harbor said, “you can tell me later.  On your time.  Always on your time.”

His voice rumbled gently through me.

“Besides,” he said, “we have work to do here.  We need to get you out of this pickle the limited minds of the grown-ups around you have put you.”

“How?” I said.

“Watch,” Harbor said and winked, and then, shimmered into invisibility, but not before breathing a little puff of fire and placing it on my head where it disappeared into me like warm apple cider. And before I could say a thing, Principal Poopy Pants came out of his office.

“Your dad is here,” he said, “and he’s not happy.”

Just then, the office door opened and in stormed my father, jeans and a t-shirt in hand.

“What were you thinking, young man?” he said, lifting me from the chair by my arm.  “Why do you do this?  I don’t get it.  It’s infuriating. Why do you want to dress like a girl?”

“Because I am a girl,” I found myself shouting, my whole body feeling as if it was filled with some kind of strange, warm power.

“You are not a girl!” my dad and the principal shouted together.

“Yes, she is,” said Harbor appearing suddenly in the room, smoke and ribbons of flame streaming from his flaring nostrils, his voice thundering.

My dad and Principal Poopy Pants leapt into each other’s arms and turned around to look at Harbor.  They screamed like frightened sheep.

“Get this into your heads,” Harbor said, lowering his own to meet their terrified eyes, “If you still want to keep your heads.  She is a girl.  She feels better in dresses.  Accept her for the truth of who she knows herself to be, or else.”  And he puffed a burst of smoke around their heads.  They coughed and tried to wave the smoke aside.

“But,” my dad began.

“But nothing,” Harbor growled.

“But…that’s my son, my son Joseph.”

“That’s not my name!” I shouted, and I felt like my words were smoke and fire.

Harbor puffed out a little flame that came inches from my dad’s nose. “Don’t,” said Harbor, pausing before growling the rest of his sentence, “Ever. Call. Her. That. Again.”

“But,” my dad attempted.

And then Harbor roared a roar that shook the furniture in the room.  “No buts!” He bellowed.

“OK…OK,” my dad said.  And then he looked at me, “This is going to take some getting used to.”

“Then get used to it,” Harbor said.

“Yeah,” I said, “Get used to it.”

I had never sassed my dad before, but instead of getting mad, he bent down and looked at me, gently putting his hands on my shoulders.  “I’m sorry,” he said.  “I think somehow I’ve always known, but I was afraid of what others would think, what people at church would say, what your friends or grandparents would say.  But, if this is who you are, then I accept you, and will do everything I can to help you feel accepted.  I never want you to feel wrong about being who you are.  I’m so sorry.”

It was the first time I ever saw tears in my father’s eyes.  I teared up too, and so did Harbor, who sniffled out a little fart scenting the room with, well, dragon fart smell, which was a lot like burnt toast, not altogether unpleasant, like the smell of horse poop that smells like mowed grass and straw.

“Now,” my father said, still holding my shoulders and wiping a tear from my eye, “what would you like to be called?”

I bowed my head and then lifted it up proudly and looked first at Harbor and then at my father.  “My name,” I said, with all the power of a phoenix rising from the flames, “is Zimzir.”

My dad smiled and stood up and turned to Principal Poopy-Pants.  “Mr. Poopy Pants,” he said (and I burst out laughing), “This is my daughter Zimzir.  She likes this dress and she is going to stay in it and you and your school are going to everything in your power to help her feel accepted.  Educate the students, teachers, parents.  That’s your job. So, do it.”

“Yes,” added Harbor, breathing fire tinged smoke around the principal’s head, “Do it.”

Principal Poopy Pants shook his head like a bobble head in a car on a bumpy road.

And so, my father walked me back to my classroom, opened the door, looked at the teacher and then the other students seated at their desks.

“People,” he said like a warrior announcing the arrival of a princess, “this is may daughter, Zimzir. Whatever you may have thought of her before, this is who she is and if any of you have a problem with that you will have to deal with me.”

“And me,” said Harbor snaking his great, scaly head into the room.

The class and teacher screamed and Harbor winked at me and then disappeared.

The other kids shook their heads not knowing if what they just saw or heard was real.

My dad looked down at me and said: “You want to stay here…Zimzir, or would you like to go for some ice cream?”

“I want to stay,” I said, looking up at him and smiling, “let’s get ice cream after school.”

“You got it,” he said and turned to go pointing his finger at the teacher and class.  “Remember what I said,” he warned.

And as I walked proudly to my desk, I looked out the window and saw Harbor.  He looked like he was about to fart.  The classroom windows were open.  He got up real close to the window and winked at me.  I plugged my nose.  I knew what was coming.  I sat down, smiled at him and knew I was me.  Zimzir.  And I, Princess Zimzir had a protector forever.

 

Afterword:

We may not all have a dragon as a friend, or parents who accept us.  We can dream though, and we can do our best to be ourselves in however form that takes, and in however time that takes—even if it takes a lifetime.  We need to do what is best and safest for us.  And since not all of us have dragons, may we all be Harbors for one another—safe places we can go when we need understanding, support, love, laughter, and a place we can burp and fart with wild abandon.  May we all be dragons and protectors for one another.  May we lift each other up and take care of one another.  And if you’re reading this and you’re not trans, then accept your kid, accept your friend, accept your relative.  Or else. I know someone hungry just waiting for you to make the wrong move.  Live your faith.  Be a parent.  Be a friend. Be an ally.  Be a Harbor and breathe fire for the sake of people like me.

 


 

 

All donations for this post will be given to TransLifeLine.


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Transcendencies, a Poem to Honor Transgender Day of Remembrance 2017, by Jennifer Angelina Petro

I wrote this poem originally two years ago and is the title poem of my book by the same name.  I have revised it rather drastically, and much more for the better.  I hope it helps celebrate who we are, each other, and our future together.

Love, Jenn

 

 

Transcendencies

A Poem for the Transgender Community

by

Jennifer Angelina Petro

 

 

We are all transcendent,

Shining across space and time in clouds

Of oxygen, carbon, hydrogen and nitrogen;

Each and every one of us transcends

Something, or someone, or somehow

Or someday—just to be able to stand here

In this very moment, catching our breath,

Learning to live–

We all transcend and become—

It is as simple as that.

 

Our blood streams are transoceanic,

Our bodies holy translations of spirit and soul,

Transcribed onto the pages of the world

By an Author who knows us by heart and accepts us as we are.

 

Yes, we are transpierced with pain—

Every day just leaving our house

And wondering if we will be safe—hurts.

Yes, we have been transplanted inside

And for some the ground grows more certain with every step,

While others cannot move out of fear for their lives.

Even as we progress in small ways and big,

Through a series of seemingly never-ending transversals only to find ourselves

Transported into more hatred, ignorance,

And shadow-driven insecurities of so-called, “religious” people—

We are still here—we will not give up.

 

We transilluminate boundaries

That no longer have solid meaning—they never did,

We are waking up to the truth that gender

Is not fixed—it is transmigratory—and no longer the transaxle

Of a tired binary sustained by those who have never even

Taken the time to get to know their own bodies–

Let alone love, or transform them into possibilities without shame—

Even though everything about people like us is transubstantiated

By living, breathing experience and science—for here we are, and yet we are told

We do not exist—We are told we do not deserve to exist—

Even though our lives are based on real, vital, valid, individual,

And continuous transitions of body and spirit,

We are still told we are evil, perversions,

Abominations before god.

 

How many more of us will be murdered by transient-thinking men

Before the world decides it is one more too many?

What makes transphobic people think they can transpose

An already faulty belief system onto us to justify or rationalize

Their unjustifiable and irrational actions and laws?

Do they really think we will not fight back against their genocidal ways?

 

 

My dear trans community, let us help transport one another

And the world, into a time where transcendencies are accepted as commonplace–

It will happen despite their barbaric ideas—

We will not be transfixed by their condemning and weakening gaze—They

Who cannot think past their own shadows—they too

Will be transformed.

We are living transmissions of realities

That shine a light on their small mindedness,

And we are here to stay.

 

We are not here to inspire some kind

Of transcultural revolution—

We ARE a revolution—

Every time we step out into the world

We declare that infinite possibilities exist.

 

Jesus of the transfiguration, came to transmute those who hate

And to set their limited beliefs on fire;

Jesus came to give them a spirit-transfusion to flush out

Both their own self-loathing and their fear of us–

Those of us, steeped in beatitudes and compassion

So deep, and forged by pain and marginalization,

As to be transcribed into living testaments

Of love’s transcendent power—we will inherit the earth.

 

Come, haters, shed your mantles of tissue and weariness,

Shed your tired ideological transparencies, and projections,

And transmigrate with us to a way of living where Jesus reigns

Alongside the mother tree and the transdimensional angels

Singing and dancing for the freedom of all souls.

For you will transpire—perhaps sooner than you want–

Life is transonic, yes, but it is death that comes at the speed of sound—

And when it does you shall be transposed against a backdrop of light

And seen for how you really lived.

 

And we—

We will continue to blossom and unfurl—transcendentalists

Of power—living rainbows moving ever forward—

We will continue to be transcendencies of glory,

And revelations of truth,

We will transcend you, transmogrify you, transverse you—

We will ever be here shining a light on your hypocrisies,

And reveling in the wonder of who we are.

 

And my beloved trans community,

May we transcend our own limited ideas of what it means

To really be trans, may we put an end to policing one another,

And instead accept one another for our transunique journeys.

May we all join forces to transfree ourselves and one another.

For we are all transcendent,

Shining across space and time in clouds

Of oxygen, carbon, hydrogen and nitrogen;

Each and every one of us transcends

Something, or someone, or somehow

Or someday—just to be able to stand here

In this very moment, catching our breath,

Learning to live–

We all transcend and become—

It is as simple as that.

 

 

 


 


All donations from this post will go to TransLifeLine


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

On My Second Birthday of Coming Out As Trans

by

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1vliof


 

 





Catching Myself, by Jennifer Angelina Petro

Catching Myself

By

Jennifer Angelina Petro

 

 

 

Lately I have been thinking

When I was young I would

Buy butterfly nets, or make them,

And then go chasing after those delicate,

Powder-winged beings.

I swooped my net down,

Across, zig zag—anything to

Snatch a butterfly in midflight,

And when I captured one,

As gently as I could, I removed it

From the net, held it cupped in my hands,

Felt it tickling my palms

With fear-filled wings,

Examined its face, legs, and abdomen—

Resisting the traumatized impulse

To dog-ear its wings,

And then I would let it go

Like I was offering it to the world,

Like I was doing something kind,

Like I had every right to disturb

The life and heartbeat of these most

Cosmological beings, and then,

I would look at my hands

And see stains of pigment

Smudged on my palms—

It made me feel guilty,

It made me feel cruel,

And it made me feel like,

Just once, I had some form

Of beauty glittering inside me

as I fluttered into the waiting, stormy sky.

 

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All donations go to food and medical expenses.  Thank you. <3


Interdependence Day, by Jennifer Angelina Petro

Interdependence Day

By

Jennifer Angelina Petro

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I believe in us.  I believe in you.

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

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

Happy Interdependence Day.

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

 


 

 

 


Donations go to medical expenses, groceries, and medicine.

Thank you. <3

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