One thing I’ve realized lately is just how many compromises I’ve made in my lifetime. I’m not talking about what to eat for dinner or what color to paint the bedroom. I’m talking about compromises I’ve made in order to be able to live in my skin and function in society. For example, as a little kid I wanted to play Little League baseball but in those days girls couldn’t play Little League. We played softball through the Parks and Rec department. We got a T shirt and a coach that did his (HIS!!! not HER) best but didn’t expect much of us. The team with the best record at the end of the season got … nothing… bragging rights I guess. WOW!! What did the boys get? Hmm..real stadiums, uniforms, a team of coaches, trophies, cool jackets, tournaments, maybe even pizza at the end of the season. But softball had to be good enough so I was happy to play. Compromise.
Dresses. I’ve ALWAYS hated dresses. In elementary school it was school policy that all girls had to wear a dress. Later, we were allowed to wear pants under the dress. What a relief that was! Compromise.
The trumpet. I wanted to play the trumpet when I was a kid. I had visions of being the bugler for the army and playing in a big jazz band like Lawrence Welk had. I was told that girls play flute or clarinet. This is one thing I refused to compromise on and I did play the trumpet … and well I might add. But what did I hear on a constant basis? You’re pretty good for a girl! You play like you have balls! Of course, I always had to play A LOT better than the boys to beat them out in seating and you better believe I did on many occasions. Why couldn’t I just play the trumpet in the band and have fun instead of it having to be a big competition between girls vs. boys? Compromise.
The Army. Well I didn’t join for a couple of reasons. First and foremost, I am a lesbian and that was pre-don’t ask don’t tell and witch hunts for gays were prominent and wide spread. I had a couple good gay friends get kicked out that way and I didn’t think it looked like I would be any more successful at hiding my true identity than they were. Second, women didn’t get any respect or interesting jobs and had to wear skirts. Remember my love for dresses? Plus, my mom told me that she would “out” me if I joined because she hated me being gay and was resolved to ruin my life. Imagine how she’d feel about me being trans LOL. She’s since departed this life, so no worries there anymore. So, I gave up the idea of the army and, honestly, it’s one of my big regrets in life but unfortunately a choice I had to make. Compromise.
Public nudity. LOL, when I was a little kid I LOVED to go shirtless in the summer!! LOVED IT! Well, you know, I was told I couldn’t do it anymore after a while and had to keep my shirt on. I can’t tell you how much fun it was to be able to go shirtless at Michigan the two summers I went there. Compromise.
Lesbianism. This one’s touchy, but I’m putting it out there. So, I’ve been attracted to girls/women my whole life. I’m what some lesbians refer to as a Gold Star lesbian. I’ve never been sexual with a man other than to kiss (yuck!). How is being a lesbian a compromise? Well, lesbianism is a Godsend, believe me, because I could NEVER have been a wife or mother but it is a definite compromise because I would’ve loved to be a husband and father but I’m female bodied. In fact, I never even considered the option of being a husband or father because I was female. Anyway, being a lesbian allowed me to date and be sexual with women which I had a strong desire to do but did not allow me to have a family or get married. I’ll talk about this subject more in another post. Compromise.
Shaving. Again, as a little kid, I had a HUGE fascination with shaving my face like a man and developing muscles in my biceps. I’d stand in front of the bathroom mirror with my shirt off and lather up my little face and try to make a muscle by pushing up the skin on my bicep. As I got older and the hair on my legs started coming in I looked forward to shaving it off. I enjoyed lathering up my legs and shaving ..all the while wishing it was my face that I needed to shave. I still wish I could shave and grow a mustache and side burns. Maybe one day I will. Compromise.
Clothing. This is the last one, I promise. We’ve already established how much I hate dresses. In fact, I hate ALL women’s clothing and, even more, I hate shopping in the women’s department. My partner and I have a hetero wedding to go to this weekend and my femme wife is, of course, stressing over what to wear. A few weekends ago we went to the mall to find some outfits for both of us. We were in Macy’s women’s department and had tried on several outfits that didn’t work for either of us. The whole time I’m thinking I wish I could just wear a suit and a tie. In frustration and disgust we started to walk out and had to go through the men’s department to get to the store exit. As I entered the men’s department I saw order where upstairs the women’s department seemed chaotic and disorganized. I saw outfits that I was drawn to and had to resist grabbing things to try on….shirts, ties, jackets, suits. I felt an overwhelming feeling of sadness as it sunk in that I would not be able to wear any of the amazing clothes that I was wanting to try on because I’m NOT A MAN!! I almost broke down in tears right then and there in Macy’s men’s department that day. But I held it together and later told my partner what was wrong with me. She was sweet about it but I really don’t think she gets it. Every day I compromise on what to wear. I dress fairly masculine, but it’s still a compromise. COMPROMISE.
I could go on and on but I won’t bore you anymore about this. I’ll just say that while, yes, many of the compromises I made had to do with being lesbian or simply female bodied, many were intertwined with my male brain/female body too. And, I know, we all make compromises in life. We don’t always get what we want. But, honestly, at every turn of my life I had to battle and struggle just to do the things I wanted to do or express myself the way that felt natural to me. Is that really normal? And how much more compromising do I want to do in this life?