In 1996 I celebrated a year of sobriety and began a journey of rebirth. That year I developed confidence in myself that previously I never experienced. I took my personal collection of notes, diaries, and tapes from my year in Vietnam and begin to organize them into a book.
In 1997 I completed the manuscript and titled it One Heart One Mind: one man's memoir of a tour of Vietnam. The book not only dealt with my year in Vietnam but with the emotional cost of the war on my soul and psyche. With assistance from Jonathan Shay M.D., Ph.D., the author of Achilles in Vietnam (a book about combat trauma and the undoing of character), I tried unsuccessfully to get my book published. In 1998 I legally changed my name from John Joseph to Janice Josephine and my writing now included transgender issues. I felt that I had come to terms with my trauma from the Vietnam War, and I was ready to move on.
In 1999-2000 I wrote and performed a play I Was Always Me. The two-act play is a monologue of my transition from John to Janice. In the fall of 2000 I had my first article published in the Transgender Tapestry Magazine.
In 2001 I was the subject of a documentary: TransJan produced and directed by Katherine Cronin. Its premiere at the Provincetown International Film Festival opened the door for me and after each screening; I conducted a Q&A about transgender issues. The latest screening of TransJan was in 2002, when it was selected to be one of the films for the Tampa Gay and Lesbian Film Festival.
In 2001, in Boston, while performing readings of my poems and rants at Slams, I met the writer Toni Amato. Shortly after that meeting I begin attending Tonis creative writing workshops at Womens Words and later attended one of her weekend writer retreats. That year I presented TransJan and sat on panels at the Transcending Boundaries Conference at Yale University and at Speak Out, a conference at Bunker Hill Community College in Boston. My most challenging event that year was the L/B/T/Allies Strategy Summit in Vermont, sponsored by the National Organization for Women.
In 2002 I continued to do workshops using creative writing as a means of getting people to open up about transgender issues. I also put together a course of study on transgender issues called Transsexuals are Human Also. I conducted creative writing workshops at the Midwest L/G/B/T/Allies College Conference. Out of this conference came my transgender monologue, and, as My Vagina Monologue, I performed this at the St Petersburg Metropolitan Community Churchers Talent Show, and it was published in the summer issue of the Transgender Tapestry Magazine.
This year I have presented creative writing workshops at the International Foundation for Gender Education in Philadelphia, the New Hampshire Transgender Resources for Education and Empowerment at the University of New Hampshire in Durham, and at Silver Threads, a weekend retreat on St Pete Beach.
I have put together a collection of my poems, rants and essays that are directly from a transwomans heart called Purple Hearts and Silver Stars. One of my short stories was published as part of Mary Boenkes Trans Forming Families, real stories about transgender loved ones.
Later this year two short stories will published in anthologies, Pinned down by Pronouns (http://www.convictionbooks.com) and Trans-lating Faith, Pilgrim Press, 700 Prospect Ave., Cleveland, Ohio. I am an active member of a local group of women artists called Women Artist Rising with whom I share my poems, rants and stories at various WAR events (http://www.womenartistsrising.com).
My new column Perspectives from a Trans-woman that started in a local newsletter is now in syndication.