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.





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

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


Jennifer Angelina Petro



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

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

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

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

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

“Have you ever heard of the uncanny valley?”

I hadn’t.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


me again 2







Do Yourself a Favor, by Radiance Angelina Petro

Do Yourself a Favor


Radiance Angelina Petro

Do yourself a favor:

Wake up


And lie by the window

From about 4 AM

Thru full sunrise.


Notice, watch, experience

How light comes.

How it washes over you so almost



And washes away the darkness

Absorbing it into itself, or simply

Taking its place.


Go ahead.  Be there here.

Do yourself

A favor

And watch the light

Become you

And you

Becoming the light.


As you do

You begin

Taking form, shape,

And shadows are revealed,

And edges, and open spaces,

And your favorite things,

And an indescribable delicacy

And sweetness comes,

Sits with you, lies with you, crawls

Right up next to you, and purrs.


Little by little

It touches everything,

Blesses everything,

And your eyes will adjust to seeing,

And you will be so grateful for the windows

In your life—

The clear ones

Letting in the light.


It will not force itself in

And yet it cannot be stopped.

It just needs

(and really, doesn’t even need—it wants)

To be


Or, at very least,

Surrendered to


And it likes to be received

In praise, or, at very least,

In wonder.


Not because it needs praise

But because it knows

You need to be praising,

For that is

What it’s doing here now

With you.


Is praising




If you are not careful, and


Once the light

Establishes itself fully,

And the dawn, the morning

Comes fully,

You might be tempted

To cover your head

With the pillow

And regret doing this silly exercise,

Because now

You have to go to work soon,

And now

You will need extra coffee.


Just remember—

Through (out) the day–

You were just revealed

In light,

Bathed in light,

Kissed, blessed, washed,

Manifested, assembled, formed,

And loved

In with by light.

You were shown

Who and what you are

And how things will happen

On the last day,

And what it means

To be baptized

In spirit and truth.


And if you close your eyes while this is happening,

And just for a second drift back to sleep,

And then catch yourself awake again,

And open up your eyes again,

You will see

(Again and again)

That those few precious few seconds

Of your own self-induced darkness


And you notice then even more now then

That more light is with you,

And smiling

New horizons

 Into you,

Into your room,

Into your mind,

And of course, it is OK, and necessary

To blink, and to rub

Your eyes, and to sleep

Just remember to do yourself a favor


Someday soon now

Why not today now?

Wake up

And lie there

As light comes to get to know you,


After being with

The light—

Rise, if you can,

Stretch, if you can,

Reach, if you can—-be, if you can

A trembling flower steady trembling flower fresh

In the morning glory joy dancing trembling,

And then, if you can, smile back

At the light trembling in dance to see



Then pause.


Inhale the light


Into you.


No, it will not burn—

It isn’t that kind of light—

This is light you can breathe

And is as soft as the air itself,

And that has a name—it is called

Here I Am Here We Are Here and Now We Are There Here,

And it will whisper through you, singing ever

So softly until it becomes you


The sea

Becoming yourself

Out loud



Explore—step off into your life—

Make waves, dismiss limits

Of shore and time–

You are being received,

Ushered in,

Guided by,

Encouraged by,

Enjoyed by


Light that is now

Here fully

With you, naked, exposed,

Beyond being vulnerable—

It is ready, willing, and


To give itself

To you

And to take you

If you want you,

And to lift you

Lift your feet,

Kiss open your eyes fully

To see

And to kiss your mouth

To speak only clarity,

And to sing your heart mind awake,

And so then you will speak words and conversations

Of light,

And your songs

Will be light and of giving thanks light,

And you will become so onewith-in being

The light—

You yourself the I Am—

That everywhere you go

You will become a living morning,

A walking sea,

A dancing, singing sun,

A bringer of possibilities,

That you will not cannot need to own—just bestow

At the feet of the world only

To then keep going,



Spilling gifts


Being a gift yourself

Everywhere spilling,

Kissing everything around you


And into

Now here and

I Am here we are here

In and of and why here,

And yes, and see, and know, and you and

I and all of us




Up and down

In love soil

Sky soil

Earth of heaven and heaven of earth soil,

And we will take one another’s hands like

Promenading trees,

And lift one another from the table,

Closing laptops,

Putting away phones,

And we will dance

And we will spin

Into more dancing,

More shores,

More earth

More heaven earth

More earth heaven

More sea

More dancing in the sea dancing

Roots singing too with branches swaying,

And we will wave,

And we will dance

Some more,

Leaping into one another’s arms like lovers, like

Sea shore sky lovers–

So grateful

To see one another again,

And we will never maybe ever

Touch again on this earth

And yet once

We part

More light forms

Between us and we laugh and we weep

And we sing and we know and we sing and we dance some more—

We see we laugh we grow we know some more,

And cannot help

But rejoice some more

And go around

Embracing everything

And everyone some more

With the presence of here and now

And more

I Am we are here now there here now there—



Isn’t it wonderful?

You know it is,

And it’s OK to say so

While you sit back down,

Sipping your coffee, getting back to work,

Checking emails, texting emoji’s, putting on

Sunglasses and going off into your world—

It’s alright—

There is light

In your briefcase, your pockets, your cup

Of coffee, your thrumming touched and blessed holy infant

Head and heart and toes and it is so glad

You came and took a moment

As it was given

And shared it with your day, your plan,

And any weariness you may have

In your arms and legs or heart—

You were you are willing

To carry exchange light—

The light you are here now I Am with you light.


The light, we are here now

The light I Am we are

And so

And so

We sew


With invisible visible threads

And golden needles

Soft as baby-hair,



For a second








Step out

And into


Your day, your world,

And back

Into the self

Of another

Where you see

Light becoming light

And being light yourself

You smile,

Sip your coffee,

Sip each other, sip the light,

And be now here I Am

 We are now there here now.


And then skip a little, lift off the ground a little

In ever so slightly

Little lifts and skips

And leap a little, skip

A beat

And make

New dancing a little more

With every oceanic step and little river

Step and little drop of water step

And sweat upon your breast step, and dew upon the dew step,

And feel light

Lifting your feet

Without effort

Without force—

Just lifting—

And you

Will be born

Into your own life—


Therewith everyone else

Being born into theirs

As morning


You become sun

You become who

You become what

You become ever-







Now and

I Am you are I Am you are we are

Here we are there here we are






We are






Being sea being sky being light


A way

And a new revelation

Begins with and

Is with

Is of with

Is of now with

In of in gratitude with


For the way’s revelation of the way

The road

 The path

The horizon

That is simply

More light

That can’t wait, but tries to wait, yet cannot wait,

To be with you here now forever we are

I Am there here and now

We are together always



Blessed and cresting

Ebbing pausing moving touching everything

And being touched by shore

By sky by sea

By shell by stone by swirls

By castles by whole bodies

Being born again

Here now I Am we are herewith

Each other blooming again here now

There now

Ever now

In each other

Together ever

Now and

With the dawn.

flower wow



And please, if you would, I am still without an income and soon to be without a place to live.  Any donations you give will help enormously at this time.  Thank you.  All my love, Radiance <3

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


Reflections on My First Official Mother’s Day, by Jennifer Angelina Petro

Some Thoughts on My First Official Mother’s Day


Jennifer Angelina Petro


yellow rose



Being assigned the wrong gender when I was born had three wonderful unforeseen consequences much later in life: my three sons.  No matter how unsettled I was inside I loved being a dad.  I sang Van Morrison songs to the kids when they were still in the womb.  When they were born I placed them on my chest and sang them to sleep as I rocked them in the rocking chair.  I prayed over them, blessed them, and wrote them songs.  I took them on wagon rides and to play grounds and parks.  When they were older I took them bug hunting, snake hunting, puppy hunting, and ice cream truck hunting.  I remember one day chasing an ice cream truck around the neighborhood after school until we were able to get close enough to run after it.  We went fishing.  I dragged them to used bookstores.  I taught them the love of nachos, Mr. Bean, and baseball.  When we went to Michigan I bought them enough candy to last them on a drive to Idaho.  I drew with them.  I drew for them.  I taught them guitar chords.  I bought them guitars, drums, mandolins, trombones, keyboards, amps, and drums.  Of course, these are things any mother could do.  That isn’t my point.  My point is I did those because I loved being a parent—a parent who thought they were a dad doing what they thought, at the time, were dad things.  As it turns out, I did all these things as a mother—they were both motherly and fatherly.


I longed (and still do long) to be pregnant and carry a child. I am well aware that will never happen.  I deeply wanted to breast feed a child.  I am well aware that will never happen either.  And while these are saddnesses I will carry always to one degree or another, I have accepted the facts.  On the eve of my Mother’s Day, I find myself feeling strange, and in sort of a limbo.  I did my usual texting to the kids today to remind them to get something for their mom—Mom Number One.  I told them not to get me anything.  Part of me wants them to always think and remember me as dad, and yet, speaking of facts, I am a mom—a mom who gave birth to herself while she was still parenting her own children.  Mother and matter are related in their Latin roots.  They mean source—the stuff of the world—the feminine force of things.  I have been, without knowing it, motherly giver and the source of origin for many things in the lives of my children.  Father, in Latin (Dutch, vader—now you know what the “Vader” means in Darth Vader.), means paternal and Supreme Being; I have not been a supreme being except for when they were infants and in my arms or in my care in the woods, or when they were young and I made up stories for them stories until they fell asleep.  I have been paternal to my children.  I have cared for them when they were sick.  I have laid down with them when they had nightmares.


Being motherly and fatherly makes me a genderqueer parent.  And as the physical symptoms/manifestations of being wrongly assigned male at birth are slowly kneaded and shaped into the female parts I have always wanted, the fatherly form will fade, yet the fatherly spirit will always remain.  And as the physical form of my real gender identity is fashioned, the motherly spirit will grow.  I am a two-spirit parent who has untied things that have always been, from the beginning of time, united.


On this Mother’s Day, I am grateful for my three children.  I am grateful for my own mother.  Many of my relatives believe she is turning over in her grave at her “Joey,” being a “Jennifer,” and these are difficult fears for me to shake.  I want to believe she would be happy and only care if I was happy.  She would be worried sick about my impending future—no doubt about that—she would be telling me of all the teaching jobs open in Michigan, but she would be happy I am happy.   I am also grateful to Mandy—the one who physically carried the kids and gave birth to them.  She has been, and is, a wonderful mom.  And on this, my first Mother’s Day, I am grateful for me and this wild, miraculous journey I am on.


So Happy Mother’s Day to all the Mom’s Out there—no matter what gender you are or aren’t.


Happy Mother’s Day to me.




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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.




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


Happy New Year Lovely Readers.

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

Love to all,



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



In Which I Buy My First Bra, by Jennifer Angelina Petro

In Which I Buy My First Bra*


Jennifer Angelina Petro


bra selfie


I did something I am very proud of today: I got measured for my first bra and then bought one. I went to Victoria Secret because I heard they measured you for free. I was extremely nervous. When I got there the store was jammed. People everywhere. I had called ahead and told them I was coming and that I am trans and wanted to buy my first bra, and so they were expecting me. Their other customers weren’t though and I got LOTS of stares and a few snickers (no, not the candybars–the little laughs). When the worker saw me she introduced herself (Sam) and asked if I’d like to be measured for a bra and I shyly told her yes. OK, she said, how about right here? HERE! I freaked. No, not here in the middle of the store….I can’t do that. Of course, having never been measured for a bra I assumed I had to disrobe and all……but anywho she was great and showed me to the dressing rooms and had a young lady named Cat measure me. After I was measured Cat sent me back out to pick out a bra. Two young ladies, Sam and Josyln helped me find one and some extenders and then I went back to the fitting room. There was a line this time and I got oodles of stares then, but Cat treated me with great respect and sort of hovered around me as, well, a guard. Thank goodness I didn’t have to wait too long and once I tried on the bra it fit perfectly and I cried right there in the fitting room. This was a huge step for me. Something I have always wanted and I loved it. The folks at VS couldn’t have been nicer. They, without a mistake, used female pronouns for me the whole time and called me Jennifer. The price of the bra was way out of my league but I treated myself anyway for my birthday next week. Anywho, I have always hated what I used to call my excessive “man-boobs”—I’ve had them since I was young and figured it was some sort of freak accident. I would never take off my shirt in front of anyone to go in a pool or anything and I always wore extra baggy shirts to try to hide them. Not anymore. Now I love them. They are MY boobs—a woman’s boobs. And I am proud of them. And for any of you who think this is all TMI, feel free to unfollow me. This is my journey and I am not ashamed to share it with you. I want this being#transgender to be normalized and humanized. This is the real deal. The everyday life of a newly realized woman. And frankly, I think I f-ing rock. Thanks for reading. Love ya’ll.



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*Originally published as a note on Facebook