Transitioning, by Jennifer Angelina Petro



Jennifer Angelina Petro




In the first place,

To begin with,

The first thing to remember,

By all means,

In light of,

In any event,


Then again,

To clarify,

As a matter of fact,

Until now,

As you can see,



To put it differently,

Sooner or later,



Coupled with,



Of course,



In detail,


In the final analysis,

Together with,

For this intention,

For this in mind,

Here and there,


Be that as it may,


And again,


In reality,

To be sure,

I am,


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,


Above all,

I am here,

In essence,

All in all,



No matter,

I am here,

In the long run,

All in all,





easter me





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My First Father’s Day Being a Mom, by Jennifer Angelina Petro

My First Father’s Day Being a Mom


Jennifer Angelina Petro

 rough and tumble


My boys say they’re OK.

When I asked them how they felt about it being Father’s Day, they said they were OK.  One asked if he still needed to get me something.  Another said he worked double time on Mother’s Day making cards for two moms and now he appreciates the day off.

I have the best kids ever.

When I think of the times I held them as infants on my chest and sang to them, when I think of pulling them in wagons and pushing them in strollers—all the times carrying them in front packs, the fishing trips, the chasing after ice cream trucks, the making bread and chimichangas, all the times we drew together, all the stories I told at bedtime, all the snake hunts and ootheca searches (praying mantis nests), all the movies (watching Pirates of the Caribbean and the Harry Potter movies over and over and over), all the times playing catch or pitching to them, or the time I took them out of school (along with my students) to take them to see the Parade downtown when the Phillies won the World Series in 08; the teaching them to drive, the times sitting in Barnes and Noble drinking soda and looking at books, the teaching the few guitar chords I know, the screaming at the top of my lungs at Battle of the Bands, the being so proud when they won first place–It wasn’t a lie.  All that daddying.  All that fathering.  It was real.  Always will be.  Nothing will ever change my having been their father.  No matter what anyone says, nothing can ever take those memories away.

My kids can see him in the old photographs with his scruffy goatee, scruffy clothes, silly grin.  They can see hear him in my voice and see him in my hands and face.

But I am Mom Number Two.  Always was.  It’s just none of us knew it until now.

My boys are my treasures.

I love them with all of my heart.

And not just because they support me as a transgender parent, not just because they have taken this whole journey so well, and with such class, love, and good humor; but because they are good and decent people, they are my flesh and blood.  They are my kids.  Nothing will ever change that.  No matter what I look like.  No matter what happens to this body.  Nothing can ever take away twenty years of fathering.

Nothing will ever change that I love them to the moon and back.  And always will.


Ben's graduation 2016

A family photo at Ben’s graduation this June, 2016.  He’s the middle one, with Sam to his right, and Daniel to his left–and then Mandy, Mom Number One, and then me, Jennifer, Mom Number Two.





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Thoughts on the Word Transgender, By Jennifer Angelina Petro

Thoughts on the Word Transgender
Jennifer Angelina Petro



The word “transgender” is beginning to bug me. “Trans” comes from the Latin, and means, “to cross over,” or “to go through to the other side,” (think transportation, translate, transplant, transatlantic). The more I think about it, the more I realize that isn’t an accurate description of who I am. It may seem that way to you (and even to me), and to other people who feel comfortable in the traditional gender binary, but the truth is I haven’t crossed over into anything. I have not gone over or through to the other side of anything. I am a woman. Always have been. Always will be. I know, I know, we all thought I was male for all those years. I get it. That doesn’t change the truth of who I am—no matter what the labels say.
I am beginning to feel the same way about the word “transitioning” for similar reasons even though I use the word all the time myself. “Transitioning” also means “a going over or across.” Of course, it’s the word that’s out there to describe what society thinks is happening to me. However, I am not crossing over from being male to being female. I have always BEEN female. Just because we didn’t know it until last year doesn’t make it any less true. The more I believe I am crossing over from being male to being female, the more opportunities I open myself up to for misunderstanding or even violence.

It’s true I am adjusting to the realization of being a woman. I am making attempts at living more comfortably in my own skin with the body I was born in (which also isn’t accurate—I was born “into” a woman’s body (from outside where, by the way?)—a woman’s body that just happens to have parts traditionally indentified as “male.”). So I will say instead—I am making attempts at living more comfortably in this body that is mine—this body that doesn’t match the typical societal expectations of what a woman’s body is supposed to look like. I am making changes in my appearance to better reflect who I finally realize I am—not to better reflect who I am outwardly with who I am inwardly. No. I am making changes because now that I see the truth of who I am I want and need to shed the scales of the conditioning I received growing up. I want to honor who I really am. I am not “presenting” either—I am simply living.

My parents tried to “masculinize” me and I do not fault them for that. They did what they thought was best with extremely limited information from doctors who also did not understand, and who actively tried to hide the truth, as well as little societal or religious enlightenment. However, the trappings put around me effectively clouded my inner and outer perception of myself as female. As the windows of my spirit cleared however, the trappings began to fall away. And while this may still sound like I was a woman trapped in a male body, it was really more that I simply appeared to be male.

Now, should we say I have a medical condition (a birth-defect?) in which the body I have doesn’t fit the gender I really am? A few weeks ago I would have said yes—it’s something like that. Now I want to say—no. The body I have fits the gender I am. What it doesn’t fit is societies expectations (or my own) of what male and female mean and should look/sound/act like. Just because day and night seem like they are on opposite ends of a spectrum doesn’t mean genders are. Mornings and evenings are when the skies are mixed—blended, woven—making them exqusitiely beautiful. I am a weaving of body-understandings that still, no matter what—end and begin with me being a woman. To say I have a birth defect suggests the only normal is the traditional conceptions of “male” and “female.”

Using the word “transgender” somehow creates a screen—some sort of ultimate safety barrier from allowing myself—or society–to accept the reality of the situation. To call me transgender puts a little distance between myself as a woman and society’s (and my own) paradigms of what that means. To just call myself a woman—or for you to call me a woman—shatters everything we understand as “normal.” People like me become viewed as abnormal, dangerous, and perverted. To be called “transgender” implies a sort of cosmic mix up—one that oddly both santizes and misrepresents the truth. It may make it easier for people to understand and wrap their minds around what I look like, act like, and speak like—and have for decades, but it really does not describe who I am as a person.

How did the term “transgender” come about? According to the TransMediaWatch Site the terms first became popular in the 60’s:

“1965, USA: The word ‘transgenderism’ is first used in a medical text by Dr John F. Oliven, where he uses it is to mean transsexualism. It is given quite a different meaning and popularized by Virginia Prince (1913-2009) in the 1970s. Prince claims to have invented the word herself, and uses it to define people who live full time in their chosen gender, without necessarily having had, or even wanting to have, gender confirming surgery. The difference in meaning between Oliven’s and Prince’s use of this word creates discontent and divisions in some sections of the trans community to this day.”
So I think we need a new word to describe people like me. I am going to go out on a limb here and suggest the tiresome binary-constricted: “male,” and “female,” or better yet, “human,” without any prefixes or any qualifiers.

Whatever word I choose the main thing is I continue to grow in love for myself as a citizen of the world deserving of all freedom and joy. In the words of Jon Anderson from Yes:

“There’s a word……and the word is love.”





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

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


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






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Reflections on Feminine Spirituality and My First Christmas Conscious of Being a Woman, by Jennifer Angelina Petro

Reflections on Feminine Spirituality

and My First Christmas Conscious of Being a Woman
Jennifer Angelina Petro

divine mother kirtan pix

Dear Friends,
I wish you all the happiest of holidays–safe, warm, and love-filled.
I am have edited this piece with a new title and a paragraph at the end that should have been in there from the beginning.

I want to also add a trigger warning for some brief, erotic content. It seems I have turned a few people off with my teenage visions of Mary and my adult visions of bliss with my Beloved. It’s interesting that erotic images for the Beloved have been around since before the Song of Solomon–but most of them between either a male beloved and a female lover or vice a versa. There are not many lesbian spiritual images for union and oneness so perhaps that is why my descriptions seem so strange to some. They are my truth however and not shared with the intent to offend. So read on if you dare, and I hope your day is filled with light. The story of the birth of divinity is as old as the earth. And yet for me the real story of Christmas is Mary. She is the anointed one. She was the one strong enough to say yes to the Divine within her and then bravely share the fruits of her womb with the world.

Mary Chistmas! Love, Jennifer



Reflections on Feminine Spirituality

and My First Christmas Conscious of Being a Woman
Jennifer Angelina Petro

For years I loved the story of the little baby king of the universe being born in a manger in a city whose name means, “House of Bread.” I loved the idea of this king of all being manifested as holy innocence—the greatest power of all. I loved how the animals—the wisest of all—gathered around to seek him with their marble-brown eyes. I loved how time stopped and the whirling of the earth paused when he was born. I loved how shepherds came to visit him with lambs draped across their shoulders. I loved how the entire story was steeped in light and yet I could not escape the foreboding and foreshadowing of what was to happen to this king of light some short thirty year later. And over time I began to hate the story.


The idea that a supreme being would sacrifice his only child to atone for his own mistakes is profoundly disturbing, whether that child chose freely to accept this mission or not. The idea that the actions of people were so depraved that they demanded the brutal killing of “god’s only son,” is barbaric. The story is perverted to me. It is an example of masculine energy gone awry.


Interestingly the past several years leading up to my discovery that I am transgender, I found myself drawn closer and closer to Mary in the nativity narrative. The more I read books about her and wrote songs to her the more I remembered how I loved her more than her son when I was growing up. I would stare at her in the many pictures and statues around my house and in the Catholic churches I went to. She fascinated me with her fiat—with her yes, with her beauty, her grace, her oceanic blue robes, her womb full of spirit-seed. I felt horrible guilt imagining her nursing her child. I felt like the worst of sinners the more I could not move my gaze from her beautiful face and chest during mass. I felt unredeemable when I imagined bathing her with kisses, and bound for hell for wanting to touch her there. All these years later I finally know why.


My soul has given birth to my true self—I am a lesbian woman–a revelation born from the womb of myself–and even though I am wrapped in the sweetest innocence and sense of discovery and wonder at being a woman—the circumstances around the revelation—the medical symptoms surrounding my womanhood leave me with a deep sense of loss—time lost, opportunities to live and love as a woman—to love a woman as a woman myself lost. No sooner was I born when the knowledge that the body that swaddles this woman is not traditionally feminine—it is a man’s body—came rushing in. This knowledge grieves me to the core of my being (my three sons not withstanding). It is my fiat to the holy mother. It is her will that this is so, and now I must release my womanhood into the hands of a transition that will take years of sacrifice.


Yet there is cause for rejoicing. Innocence has been reborn in me. I am approaching fifty with the soul of a young woman in her twenties, and the heart of a teenage woman, and the spirit of a little girl all of ten. And I have never been so happy. And as I bloom (a word and image I have been using in my writing for decades) more and more into myself as a woman the more the idea of a masculine deity becomes foreign—alien—tiresome.


I know about yin and yang and the thought that the divine encompasses the opposites—that the world we live in is a world of duality—and yet I no longer accept this sphere of opposites as the ground of being for the divine. It is true of nature—seed and ground, sperm and egg, but the force behind it all is mother—is Creatrix—is the goddess. All things are born from her womb; all things arise from her and suckle at her breasts.


Mary—mater—matter—mother–she is the goddess I love–the earth as mother, the soul as feminine—my soul as feminine—my soul as woman. The more I journey into myself as a woman the more I recognize the goddess as the prime force behind and within all things.

Who provides her with seeds? In the story of advent, the shadow of the holy-spirit sought Mary out for she was pure—without sin—desirable—she was woman. And I see this shadowed spirit to be of her own being covering herself with herself, and a short time later she is found to be with child. To me this is the image that she is self-generating—she is the goddess of parthenogenesis. She is the goddess of the virgin birth because she can generate her own offspring in her own womb. This is not to invalidate the masculine, the wonderfulness that is a man of wisdom, grace, power, beauty, talents, and magic. Nature needs the masculine, and the masculine is, in itself, holy. The divine Creatrix however has no need of this force to exist. She doesn’t encompass the opposites—she transcends them—she bleeds together darkness and light creating something altogether beyond these things—she gives birth to the flow of time and imagination. She is the source of all and reveals the fruit of her womb in everything we see, touch, taste, hear, smell, intuit.

Like a good mother she raises her children to be free and o how she must weep at what so many of her children have chosen to call living. She sings with joy too at the children who choose consciousness and peace, and she is constantly providing mercy and ways out to living with kindness and compassion, bliss and holiness every moment of every day.

And so this Christmas–this mass for the anointed one–I am deeply grateful to know what I believe as my truth. I no longer need to believe in a story I despise. I have been baptized with chrism scented with amber and myrrh, with magnolia and geranium, with vanilla and honey, coconut and sandalwood. And as the oil pours over my spirit and seeps, soaking my soul, I am alive as a woman of the moon and the earth. I am daughter of the Mother, the goddess, the Womb of All. I am the daughter of the Muse, the lover of the Wild Woman, the beloved of the Lover of All, and I am full with the fruit of my womb—children born from the shadow of my spirit—poems, songs, innocence, adventure, passion, wonder, and self-acceptance that I am honored to mother into the world. They are my gifts to myself and as long as you are willing to accept them, they are my gifts to you.


And speaking of gifts—thank you to all of the powerful women in my life who have befriended me over the years—especially recently. You are my guides, my stars, my shepherdesses leading this lamb home to her moon-lit fields and her moon-lit flock, and the moon-lit arms of her Beloved.

Blessed Be, Jennifer Angelina Petro





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This Being Transgender

This Being Transgender
Jennifer Angelina Petro




Dear Autumn,
This being transgender reminds me of what you must face;
People who haven’t thought of you for ages
Suddenly find themselves thinking of you and lamenting your arrival,
Others find you a fascinating anomaly in an otherwise endless summer
Of sameness and dreamy afternoons;
Others force themselves to stop thinking of you
With hopes of postponing an imaginary, apocalyptic winter,
Still others think about you so much they stop talking to you
And pretend you no longer exist, they fear
Your blazing changes will rub off on them,
They think your very appearance signals a heresy
That will send summer reeling—
Which it does–but not in distress does summer
Go tumbling through the leaves and out of town, it rolls on
Joyous of your presence and relieved
To finally be able to breathe fully and see spring’s children
For who they really are. And the heresy? It is there–
It signals the living fully what love stands for–
And that means comfort zones expanded,
Walls removed, and doors opened into the reality
Of the here and now, 2015.


Dear Autumn,
I see your graceful letting go,
I see you casting gold with trembling fingers,
I see your swaying vulnerability against a stark blue sky,
And I know I let go far less gracefully,
I cling to what must be tossed away,
I flail about believing
There is nothing gold about me
To even bother sharing;
I begin believing those who can longer look at me
Or who dread how I will influence their children—
I know better though, I know they only fear
How I will influence them—how I will magically
Nudge them away from the summer
Of their inner, thinly-hidden discontent
And out into the blazing colors of enlightenment,
I know better, but I cling to brittle branches
Of self-loathing.


Dear Autumn,
So many people tell me they need time to be able to just see me,
Some still believe a death has occurred, and yet, here I stand in my autumnal truth.
You and I both know nothing dies when you arrive;
Summer cartwheels over the hills and warms
Another place happy to be free to think new thoughts,
The leaves you share feed the soil and fertilize the seeds of spring,
The harvest of apples feeds many with mulled sweetness,
And if they could only see you in my soul
And be awed at the revelation of color and the arrival
Of gold and my ability to finally stand in the fifth direction
Of my journey, with all of the certainty of wonder and hope
Of voyaging further into the sky, the streams, the purple mountains,
The heart of love, and the ground of being;
If they would only look in the mirror of their deepest fears—
And see love looking back at them,
And how the faces of spring infants and angels of flamenco
Gather around the edges of their vision, then maybe they would get it—
Their reflection looks like us and them—it looks like every single tree
To ever wave in the wind and sleep bathed in moonlight,
And just rest easy knowing we are not signaling the end
Of all that is warm and held sacred,
We are heralding the beginning of freedom,
We are taking the leaves of sacredness
And casting them where they truly belong–
Into an infinite sky of infinite variety.












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