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

On My Second Birthday of Coming Out As Trans

by

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1vliof


 

 





URGENT MESSAGE, PLEASE READ AND SHARE by Jennifer Angelina Petro

Dear Friends,

You may not know this but I lost my job of 16 years this past June, due, in large part, I believe, to being transgender. I am also about to lose my home leaving me a divorced, 48 year old unemployed and homeless transwoman.  I am applying to many different jobs and have only had 2 interviews in some 60 applications thus far.  Seems there is little market for people like me, even with my stellar teaching resume.

Right now, I have no source of money in my checking account and cannot pay for groceries or other things I need to just get by. I applied, and was turned down for, unemployment. I am trying to get food stamps and welfare, but the process is slow and I need groceries now and there are basic bills to pay, like water, electricity, etc.

If you are able, please consider donating to me on my blog using the donation button at the bottom of this post and that appears on the bottom of nearly all recent posts. I was hoping to use any donations from here for future gender-affirming surgeries (even though only 2 people have donated in the past 2 years), but anyway, I need to eat. I am desperate, and scared.  If you can, please help. I hate asking this….I have never before in my life ever asked for such a thing.  I never would have envisioned this being my life at 48.

Writing this post breaks my heart. I was going to do some sort of crowd-funding for my surgeries as soon as I got on my feet again, but to be asking for money for food is heartbreakingly sad.

But OK.  There you have it.  I have kept this blog for about 6 years and love it.  I hope you do too.  You know, if you’ve been following me all these years, that I have never asked for such a thing.  This is real.

Thank you everyone for reading and for donating. Please feel free to share this post with those who you might think would be willing and able to help.  I love you all. Thank you with all of my heart.

Yours Ever, Jennifer (Radiance)

 

 

I promise anything you send will be used for food and other day-to-day essentials until I can get foodstamps or some other source of assistance, and most hopefully, soon, a job, somewhere, anywhere.