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.

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


Jennifer Angelina Petro





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….




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.





Radiance Reporting, by Radiance Angelina Petro

Radiance Reporting


Radiance Angelina Petro


The thoughts contained in this poem

are a small part of what goes on in my head on a daily basis.

Thank you for reading.


On the days I take off from shaving

I think:

Ahhh, that feels

Good to not do.

And then I think:

Shit, this messes with which

Bathroom I go in if I leave the house.

I look less traditionally

Fem, and so, I probably can’t

Safely use the ladies room (my rightful restroom).

I better wear androgynous clothes

So I can use the men’s room—

I can go in there with a scruffy face and jeans,

And if I wanted to, hell

I could pee standing up (I can still do that, you know).

 Me unshaven nonbinary

Please donate to my transition.  Thank you, Radiance <3

Reflections on Clothing, Body Hair, Shaving, Joseph, Mowgli, Spirits, and My Spiritmother from Home, By Radiance Angelina Petro

Reflections on Clothing,

Body Hair, Shaving, Joseph,

Mowgli, Spirits, and My Spiritmother from Home


Radiance Angelina Petro


mowgli eye


I remember, before I came out, going to work wearing a tie, stiff slacks, dress shoes, and getting called, Joseph and Mr. all day; and then, coming home, shedding it all—dropping it all—like unnecessary armor—the clothes, the name, and then putting on my comfortable clothes–the ones I had started buying and wearing in secret, the ones I have always wanted to wear but didn’t know it—the ones that made my body feel alive; and finding myself suddenly breathing again.  I hadn’t realized it, but I had been holding my breath in a very real sense the whole day.  In my silken night gown however–beard and all, hairy everything and all–I felt at home in my body.  And then, add to this wonder, the discovery that I could choose my own name, and I felt like a queen—well, more like a sorceress brewing her own life.

The day came when I found myself shaving my arms for the first time.  I couldn’t believe how freeing it was.  This may sound hard to believe, but the day I shaved my entire body (well, what I could reach, that is), I hadn’t planned on doing it.  I just stood there naked in front of the full-length mirror, took the clippers out, and started.  Some of you may not know this, but I used to be hairy as hell.  When the tufts of hair began to fall from my arms, chest, legs, belly, my…well, other parts—I laughed and wept, and then laughed and wept some more.  I was so incredibly happy.

I wasn’t shaving to try to look like some feminized image in my head—nor was I, nor am I now, against body hair on anyone—but for me, it was a moment of liberation and revelation, and shaving felt like shedding, molting—stepping out of bearskin and becoming human.

Same as when I wore “women’s” clothes for the first time.  Of course there is no such thing as men’s or women’s clothes—I know that now—but those first few weeks I started wearing clothes I thought were women’s, were among the most innocently sweet times of my life.  Yes, you and I both know I am prone to hyperbole and just a touch of drama—but who cares?  It’s the truth.  First time I wore a woman’s blouse and skirt I felt euphorically happy. And when I put a dress on for the first time– hiding up in my room late one Friday night in late winter– I admit I felt aroused, but much more than sexually–I felt blessed, validated, home—a kind of arousal I had never experienced before but that would soon be eclipsed by the watershed moment when I realized what all of this meant (not that it needed any meaning)—the moment I realized I am transgender.

What I saw in the mirror that night was right and good, even though, as I said, I still kept a beard—which in those first few months, felt like an incongruency.  I now know many gorgeously handsome men who wear dresses and sport beards and they look (and are) amazing. But then there came the day the beard had to go too.  And for me, I have done my best since that day, to look and feel as shaven as I can. That is my preference.  Somedays I put on my skirt and a t-shirt, eye makeup and go out without shaving—occasionally I won’t shave for two days, but that is rare.

The thought of wearing a tie now, or the old clothes I used to wear, sickens and saddens me—or rather, makes me feel like it’s a violation of my being to even think about wearing them.  And I know that is still stinking thinking—that it doesn’t matter what I wear—I am a woman through and through—fuck what anyone else thinks a woman should or shouldn’t be or wear—I get it—intersex complications all rolled into one me—I am a woman—no matter what I wear, how I dress, or how much body hair I choose to keep on or not.  And yet the feeling remains that to wear those old clothes would be like wearing fire.

And today, alone in my house, but not alone inside—for I have you and others—I no longer have to hide anything.  This is me (of course, yes, there are still things I hide just for the sake of the joy of mystery).  For the first time in a long time, I am OK with me—with who and what I see in the mirror.  I am not where I want to be in many ways with regards to my physical appearance, but I am moving in the direction that feels right for me.

Wednesday, at therapy, I had the most profound sense that Joseph was ready to leave—that he had done his work and was ready to go back into the light.  He had protected me; did his best to keep me safe.  Even as the abuse piled on—he hid me, sheltered me from the blows—he took me into his soul.  And when I told him I was ready to give birth to myself he acted as midwife and wept with joy the hardest when he saw me standing in front of the mirror all dressed in satins and silks holding a little girl in my arms.

His spirit remains in me, but his soul has gone home.  This may be hard to understand—this difference between spirit and soul.  All I know is that spirit is like another mind—another voice or breath, while soul is the like the essence behind that mind or breath.  It is like the music of the voice and its meaning.  Spirit is mist, soul water, body earth holding all of the above.

I live with two spirits with my own soul in one body.  It’s hard to explain but it makes sense to me.  Yes, each spirit has its own, individual soul, but their souls are their souls and have little to do with me.  My soul is my soul, like your eyes are your eyes, and this body is mine—a woman’s—even if it has shades of Joseph shimmering through.

It would not surprise me in the least, by the way, to find out one day, sooner or later, that I am not two-spirited—but many spirited.  Just as there are many genders made manifest in our waking conscious lives there are many gender-spirits swirling about us—and they are all—each and every one—beautiful and scented with earth and dappled with stars, and, with my luck all looking for a home (for that is what many spirits do—they look for homes to dwell in while others are content to travel through the trees and across ponds never settling down anywhere).

Last night, Joseph sent a firefly into, and then out of, my room.  I know it was him checking up on me.  And when I blew him a kiss I felt myself grow taller into my own being.

I know too that it was my mother—my spiritmother—who sent Mowgli to me (well, she is more than my spiritmother, but that is another story—she is also more than my most recent earthmother, but that too, is another story).  Spiritmother wanted me to know I am loved and that I needed to allow myself to be loved by people here.  She wanted me to know that freely accepting and giving love with vulnerability, joy, and wisdom—is OK—even though it will always mean heartache at some point or another (there are worse things than heartache—there is heart emptiness, heart sickness, and heart rage—I have experienced all of these and at very least heartache cooks up along with it poetry and the longing that pervades the best poetry). Spiritmother sent Mowgli to me to let me know she was thinking of me, and that I am with her always, and she with me, and that, unlike I had been wrongly thinking for so long, I can bewith her whenever I wantneed.

Looking at pictures of Mowgli today, his eyes betray the source of the mystery that is the love of my spiritmother.  And, even as uncertainty swoops and dives around my head, I am safe—here—in my own true self, together, with you.

When that watershed moment came when I knew, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that I am transgender, everything I knew and didn’t know, bloomed into that one divine, precious moment, and the joy from that moment echoes today through my entire being—right through my fingertips and toes.  Yes, the watershed moment caused a mud-slide and many houses turned on their foundations and careened down the hillsides of their lives. Yes, the watershed moment flooded the streets of many hearts and preconceived ideas of who I am or was.  Sure, the watershed moment washed out many old yards littered with the shells of old cars and rundown sheds.  Nature is like that.

That moment though was the single most soul expanding moment I have ever experienced thus far in this life, and I stand today in deep gratitude and humility that I was picked to experience a second birth in my own being, my own body—that my own soul got to realize itself while in a body—that the spirits within me have a chance to sing, dance, to revel by the fires of passion and purpose.  They get to live as freely inside of me as they want—which, is a lot—is totally—is completely—is without reservation or hesitation—is without shame—is without malice towards anyone—is with utter simplicity and fullness of breath and room to explore and to wonder and simply be.

There is more to the story, of course.  It is still writing itself in the sand and on the water and in the wind and in the fires and bones of the world. This is where I am at this moment, Friday, August 05, 2016.  As I go about my day today, looking for work and a place to live, I am also playing detective trying to piece together the intersex narrative that has been running through the pages of my life like an unseen river which is only now beginning to rise, spilling forth over the banks of the ideas I used to think held me—even as a transwoman.  The mystery continues and more shall be revealed.



mirror 1





Thank you for supporting my ongoing transition.  Yours, Radiance

I Am Not a Walking Incongruency, by Radiance Angelina Petro

I Am Not a Walking Incongruency


Radiance Angelina Petro


me again 2



I am not a walking incongruency

Like I felt I was for so long.

This husky voice, this poorly covered

Five o’clock shadow, these shoulders,

Hands—and this–

This metallic-purple eyeshadow,

Creamy rose lipstick, this pink and gold glitter

You see in my hair and on my face,

This second-hand skirt and blouse,

These breasts, these turquoise painted fingernails—

This is all me.  The one and only

Incongruency is you.

Just because I do not agree

With how you think I should look

Or be, or dress, does not make me

The one who is wrong.  You

Are not even wrong, in the grand

Scheme of things.  However

If you insist on allowing who I am

To grind against the ideas

Of who you think I should be,

Then we have a problem.

If you cannot open the little box

Of what you think you believe

Even a little to me—or even to the idea

Of me—and yet you pray, worship

Something other than yourself

Something you believe

To be omniscient, perfect, and

The very origin and creator

Of infinite variety and love, then you

Are the walking (stumbling)

Incongruency.  You are

The one, whose box—

Whose cramped, little box

Of a life is closing off

Much needed light.

It is you who must work

To align the chimera of who you are

To the reality that is—

The reality where you

Are being led by incongruences

In sheep’s clothing.






Thank you for supporting my continued transition.  Yours, Radiance <3


The Ever Unfolding Rose, by Jennifer Angelina Petro

The Ever Unfolding Rose


Jennifer Angelina Petro





I weep in gratitude as I write these words.  Many of you know the many challenges I am facing in my life right now all as a result of being transgender.   And yet, despite these, and the near-constant struggles with dysphoria, I look in the mirror and am amazed—not at the beauty or how “feminine” I look—but that I am who I want to be.  I am the person I was meant to be.

The soul looking out from my eyes is tender.  She is also ferociously strong.  As the years of living under the weight of an imposed masculinity, she rejoices in the freedom that is finally hers.

Today I see the wonder of who I am as a transgender woman.  Imagine carrying within you the seeds of an entirely new person and then sprouting with every step.  Imagine being a human, living egg, or a walking cocoon continuously unfurling and hatching as one moves through the world. Imagine being asleep all your life and then suddenly waking up to a reality that is both delicious and calming beyond compare.  Imagine having amnesia all your life and not remembering who you really are until, one day, the scales fall, the fog lifts, and you remember—you are an angel, you are majestic, holy, noble—you are yourself as your soul remembers you to be.

Today I embrace the native tradition of being two-spirit.  Today I embrace the wisdom thrumming through me and the insight and understanding I have of myself and of the world.

Yes, there are challenges.  Yes, I am often raw with tears, and the changes I am in the midst of often feel paralyzing, but I am me—a transgender woman.  And I loved.  I know that.  I know too, that I am love made manifest in a being emerging like a blossom in spring.  Whatever lies ahead will be met by a soul living in her deepest truth.  Whatever I have to face—I face it knowing I am myself.

I am myself in a way I have always wanted to be and could never dream possible.  I am myself with a life and identity of authenticity that is helping change the world for the better.  I am myself with an awareness of my spirit that is as profound as it is humbling.  I am the ever unfolding rose. I am transgender, and this being transgender is my greatest gift.





Please help support my gender reassignment surgery.  Thank you.




A Star is Born–One Way I Know I am Transgender, by Jennifer Angelina Petro

A Star is Born
One Way I Know I am Transgender
Jennifer Angelina Petro

me looking up

People ask me a lot: How do you know you’re transgender? How do you know you’re a woman? Sometimes I reply: Well, how do you know your gender identity or your gender preferences? It’s like knowing the color orange is orange—you just know. Other times I wax poetic and answer: How does the bee know it’s a bee, and how does it know to do its honey-making dances? How does spring know its spring and how does it know when to wake up all the flowers and the aforementioned bees? There is, however, no real way to describe the indescribable. Something happened to me recently though that speaks volumes to my own, personal affirmation of my revelation of being a transgender woman—an affirmation that struck me with such intensity that it rocked my world with joy. It’s personal, as I said, but you might relate to some of what I am about to share. My guess is it could apply to many life circumstances, not just being transgender. On a cold winter’s night, as I walked down Chestnut Street in Center City, Philadelphia, I realized the movie had stopped.

Ever since I can remember I lived my life as if I were in a movie. Better put—I was the movie. It wasn’t just the sensation of being watched, although that was there, it was also a deep, penetrating awareness that everything I did was fake—fake and acted. I was an actor (I am not going to say “actress” here because growing up I did not know I was female) par excellence. Everything I did, every word I spoke was fiction. And no, I wasn’t a liar in the sense of not speaking the truth. I was being filmed in one long, rambling drama. My life was a movie about an actor—and an actor playing an actor within a movie that was really an unlived life filmed as a movie—sort of like when you hold a mirror up to a mirror and the reflection goes on forever. There was no truth to the story. Everything I did or said was pretend and all of that pretending was being watched by a part of myself that knew somewhere, somehow that what it was seeing, was acting.*

I do not suffer from Truman Syndrome, nor am I a victim of derealization, or any other type of schizoid disorder. I am not paranoid. Yes, I suffer from hyper vigilance and PTSD. I didn’t need to learn how to dissociate when I was being beaten or molested. It would just happen. Repeated abuse does that to a soul, to a brain. This sensing I was in a movie was altogether different, and began several years before the sexual abuse. This sensing I was in a movie happened twenty-four-seven. At school, at church, at the toy store, in my room, at dinner, and all throughout my life, from the time I was four, five maybe–I had the unmistakable recognition that I was being filmed. My life was a movie. My life was a lie.

Who was filming? Who was behind the camera or in the director’s chair? Everyone. Everyone and no one. And myself. Who was watching, who was the audience? Everyone, no one, and myself. This is hard to put into words, but it was like my own life watched my own life and didn’t know what to do about it or how to stop it, or why it was happening, or what the ending was going to be like, or when. I wasn’t looking for attention, nor was I narcissistic, I wasn’t even delusional. I simply lived in a movie filmed through my own eyes, my own brain, and I hadn’t a clue as to why. It wasn’t like thinking god was watching or Santa Claus. It was more like just walking, following the steps of myself, yet knowing they weren’t mine, knowing they meant nothing. I remember looking down at my feet as I walked and wondering where they were going. I remember looking down as I puffed out my chest because I was obsessed with trying to look tough and “manly.” I didn’t care if god or Santa watched me. I didn’t even care that I was a constant actor. I didn’t know anything else. All I knew was that my everyday life was a fiction, a pseudo- documentary with a subject that didn’t even exist and that no one cared about.

My eyes were the camera lenses; my own head both the camera and the screen. The world was the screen too and the camera. Everywhere I walked or stood or ran I was acting, pretending–even while sleeping. It’s no wonder I never had a restful night’s sleep. I was pretending to be asleep as the world snuck into my room and silently gathered around my bed to watch me dreaming of real life.

I laughed when I was supposed to. I cried when I was supposed to. I learned how to fish and ride a bike and get angry on cue. I moved from one scene to another never quite feeling like I was in the right one or saying the right lines, but I was there—I showed up. Yet somehow the background and the staging were all wrong; somehow the other people in the movie could never get close enough to me to wonder how I could be there, and yet not be there, all in the same scene. I was being filmed and I was also, somehow, inexplicably covered in a thin film made of dust and shadows.

Throughout my movie life, I did what so many other people do with a history of abuse–I turned to addictions—pornography and food mainly. Ever chasing some sort of moment or flash of reality, yet never finding it for more than a fleeting second, and those fleeting seconds were always steeped in shame, ugliness, and remorse.

I suppose some people who relate to this experience of sensing being filmed and watched might imagine it must automatically mean they’re transgender. That was only the case in my life. Why you might resort to unconscious hiding in your own life might happen for a myriad of reasons. The only difference perhaps is that I know now that I was hiding, and I know now that I am not.

While on some twisted level this survival mechanism was the work of a child-genius attempting to create a world of safety, this being filmed over decades eventually became a burden. I began to sense something wasn’t right, something was being hidden in the process of being filmed. I hadn’t a clue as to what it could be. I kept associating it with my abuse or my shame. However the truth was far more surprising than I could have ever imagined. And the strategy of stepping out of one’s own life by pretending to live it and have it filmed all at the same time eventually lost its efficacy—if there ever was any to lose.

And so it went on, year after year. I was filmed on my wedding day, I was filmed pushing my babies around in the stroller, I was filmed while teaching, buying used books and records, I was filmed eating, I was filmed in the bathroom and the shower, I was filmed watching other movies, I was filmed making feeble attempts at playing sports, I was filmed drawing monsters and writing poetry, I was filmed when I learned to drive and bought my first car with my own money, I was filmed as relationship after relationship ended with unexplainable trouble. The burden of being filmed however was simply a weight I had to carry. I knew it was happening but never felt safe to talk about it. To this day I have never mentioned it to any of my therapists that I’ve had over the years.

At one point I thought I was being filmed by aliens. Perhaps they had kidnapped me years before and implanted a camera in my eyes to study a human life. Perhaps alien superpowers would eventually show up when I needed them most. Perhaps I had died as a child by getting hit by lightning and this movie of a life was really some sort of ghostly projection I was trapped in until another incarnation came around.

Thing is, I got used to it. It just was that way. It never stopped. I lived my life pretending I wasn’t pretending, acting that I wasn’t acting. I was an unreality-show being made into a reality show long before those programs existed. The experience of being filmed and watched was so inwardly part and parcel of who I was, that I never tried to stop it. I figured it was like that for everyone—everyone lived a fake life, everyone was pretending. “All the world’s a stage,” after all. Or worse, we’re all acting on karmic impulses from previous lives and none of us are free. I justified my perceptions of being filmed by blaming it on religion, the government, aliens, ghosts, spirits, elemental beings, devils, angels, and sometimes on the belief that I was an addict.

The long and short of it was that I didn’t really exist. I was an imposter pretending to be someone else who was an imposter. And that sensation carried itself through right up to the moment I realized I was transgender, only I was so enraptured by living the truth it took me a few months to notice it was gone.

So one night, walking down a poorly ploughed Chestnut Street near 12th street, I suddenly stopped—more like I was halted by some angelic, winged hand trying to get me to notice the fact that I was finally free. I was no longer being filmed. I was no longer pretending. My life was real. The film had dropped like a snake skin. I wasn’t an imposter in my own story. I was real. The filming had stopped. I was walking down the street a transgender woman and I was alive, liberated, present, unafraid of breathing. I was a pure, living soul–pure in the sense of being born, pure in the sense of the dawn, pure in the sense of the moon rising over a silver pond. The movie house was gone. The camera in my head was gone. The ever-present sensation of existing in a false life vanished.

I see the movie clearly now—now that it’s over. I see how impossible it was for the little girl to make herself known. I see how the little boy did his best to keep her safe. I see how the rest of the world knew something about me was askew yet didn’t know what to do about it, yet let alone admit I was askew. I see how the abuse only furthered the sensation of being watched and of being unreal. I see how, despite feeling like so much time was wasted, that this was the right moment for the little girl to rise, to grow, to blossom into a woman. The work I had done untangling the abuse and the addictions created a nest of safety for her to grow her wings and eventually to fly. The darkness I had gone through and survived had bloomed entire heavens of wonder. Finally, after all those years, my life shines in truth: I am a woman, a transgender woman of magnificence and power. And I am taking the script I was cast in, and all the costumes and props, and authoring and directing an entirely new story—a true story—an adventure story, a romance of the self, woven with magical realism, a mystery where there is no crime—where the only mystery is: how far will this woman go? It is a story of inspiration and hope, perseverance and courage, and the ability to rejoice in who I am—no matter how I transition or stay the same, no matter what I do or do not do, no matter how my body looks, no matter what anyone says or does. It is an ever unfolding story—it is my story–detailing what happens when a star is born.





*It behooves me to address those who have known me personally over the years: You were always real. I was the fake one. Your interactions with me mattered and were genuine. My presence however was not there. I tried, but it was like being in a coma with my eyes open. I could see you, think I was communicating, but actually nothing was coming out of my mouth. I couldn’t speak or even move. I love you all for trying to see the real me.






Dead Name Sings, A Spoken Word Poem, by Jennifer Angelina Petro

Dead Name Sings
A Spoken Word Poem
Jennifer Angelina Petro



me first commuinion0008


Dead Name Sings


Jennifer Angelina Petro


I do not wish to erase a life,

By attempting to wash away a name,

Joseph is not a dead name.

It lives on, echoing in Jennifer,

Weaving through references

And documents, old photographs and letters,

It lives on because memories are living things;

Please do not mishear or misinterpret

What I am saying—Joseph was a name

Given to a body—not a soul,

Not an understood gender;

I am Jennifer Angelina Petro—my chosen name—

And that is how I will be called—it is, one could say

My married name—I kept the surname—

For Joseph and I are married in perhaps

The truest sense of the word—

And so I am to be called: Jennifer Angelina Petro.

Call me Joseph and I might weep

And he will understand

And take no offence–he wants me to be seen,

Affirmed and embraced by the world;

For these reasons alone,

I have no interest in evaporating

An entire existence, because it did not

Encompass then who I am now.

Joseph was a gentleman,

And like all good men, offered to give himself

Completely to his beloved, and so we are one,

And I know he did pretty fucking good

All those years I lived unknown.

Joseph held down the fort

Until the cavalry of truth came riding in

Blowing the doors off a life lived in shadows,

And he sang while no one, and everyone,

Was listening:

“Jennifer Angelina,

Love of my life, true goddess of my soul.”

And yes he sings through this voice, and touches

Through these hands—

He deserves as much for all he has done,

For all he suffered from those who tried to keep him

From knowing I was there waiting in the wings,

Sending signals and cues, lines, and motions,

Gestures, and fascinations that bemused him

With secret joy,

He tried to let me out and was met

With abuse and the worst of what religion can do,

So he did what he could to keep me alive and safe–

He hid me in the pockets of his dreams,

Singing all the while where only I could hear:

“Jennifer Angelina,

Love of my life, true goddess of my soul.”

And when he finally began to crack

From the weight of carrying a whole other life

In the womb of his soul, he crumbled,

Did his best to break my fall as he fell, and then,

As I stepped more and more into the open,

He slowly disappeared behind the curtains,

Singing: “Jennifer Angelina,

Love of my life, true goddess of my soul.”

But he is not dead–

Joseph lives on,

And he is holy—a sacristy made of unwanted

Flesh and blood  where a priestess of beauty

Prepares for mass.

And the more I take center stage

And live a life of epic proportions,

And grand style, operatic adventures,

And plot twists a-plenty, the more he willingly

Fades into the background, back to into spirit,

And he does not want to be beckoned back,

He does not want his name called out—

He laid down his life for the sake of his love–

And as he fades I hear him

Whispering incantations and prayers,

Spells of enchantment and protection,

Runes of good cheer and prosperity,

And sometimes, from the rafters,

Where he has perched himself to watch and to guide,

I hear: “Jennifer Angelina,

Love of my life, true goddess of my soul.”

And we celebrate the end of a run,

And toast the beginning of a life

Lived in lights–where anything is possible,

And all things shine freely, truer than true,

A life full of roses and ovations, dinner parties

And rave reviews,

And more calling cards than the biggest star

On Broadway,

And sometimes, when the house has emptied

And I am alone backstage, removing my makeup,

He steals next to me, drapes his coat

Over my shoulders,

And walks me home through the hatred

I live with and the alleyways, and the transphobia

That echoes with far away trains and honking cars,

Scavenging cats, and sirens that flash in the puddles

And shop windows,

And when we get to my place

He kisses my hand, and turns,

Shimmering once again into the shadows, singing,

Like spring, like moonlight,

Like stars, like wind, like an angel, he sings:

“Jennifer Angelina, love of my life,

True goddess of my soul.”


All donations go to furthering my transition.  Thank you.




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

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



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



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


Misfit of Light by Jennifer Angelina Petro

Misfit of Light
Jennifer Angelina Petro




Oh sweet seed, how you bundled into the egg with such eagerness and gusto,
Oh sweet egg, how you nestled snuggly into the roots along the riverbank of my mother’s womb,
Oh sweet soul, being of love and light, how you sped through the heavens to guide this tiny spark,
Oh sweet spirit of wonder, how you swirled and danced and unfolded a girl into the body of a boy,
Did you get so caught up in the bliss of kissing the soul
That you took leave of your senses and careened drunkenly into the making of me?
It’s OK. I am not angry. I can make light of it today
Because I am an alchemist of form, able to transmute wood into moss and salt into musk,
I am a misfit of the highest order,
I am a being of light ungendered living in a vessel that walks in genders;
I am a chalice, a holder of sweetness, shaped with a cup and a stem unlike any other woman’s,
I am a journey–star-navigated through the cities and woods with a knapsack full of fruit,
I am a sailor and the sea and a ship made of ever smoothing wood,
I am the map and the country and the treasure marked with an X and an X and another X and a Y,
I am a heavenly body and a sky full of moons and stars,
I am a noble kink in the standard protocol of the world,
And I am loved by many—enough to become an open road of freedom,
Enough to sing my way home and into bed with the goddess
Who waits to render me back into her soul of souls
Where holy darkness blossoms all things misfit into perfect garden-mounds of joy.





All donations go to my transition.  Thank you.