I hate labels because they really don’t represent me precisely. But I love them because they can quickly help convey my situation…
Labels are meant to describe the general characteristics of whatever is being labeled. In the case of gender we’ve gone from ‘male‘ and ‘female‘ or ‘man‘ and ‘woman‘, to literally dozens of ever more granular labels trying to describe the gender spectrum.
Because the original gender labels were not inclusive enough, more and more labels are being introduced into our lexicon. I’m not too keen on that idea because the language keeps changing at a fast rate, making it difficult to track. A longer list of labels also adds confusion as people in the mainstream may simply not understand them. My preference would be to not use labels to describe myself or my gender identity. I hate them because they don’t really represent the nuances of how I identify.
On the other hand I love labels. I love them because they work for me as a quick baseline. Specially the typical or well known labels usually are understood by many more people. And if you are a gender buff, some of the less known labels can be very specific and descriptive.
Love + Hate
In fact I sometimes use labels and other times I just don’t. Often I use a label to help explain myself, and in other cases I throw out the label and I actually describe myself in more detail. For example, going to the lab for a blood analysis, I introduce myself as ‘transgender‘, though I don’t fully identify myself as a transgender person. I use the transgender label in that case because it quickly explains to the lab technician why such a discrepancy between the photo and data on my health card with the way I appear. The technician quickly understands what’s going on and no further interaction is required.
Another example I’ve found myself was when I opened up to friends. First I would use the ‘transgender‘ or ‘trans‘ labels and as the conversation got deeper, I’d apply the ‘gender non-conforming‘ label on me. With my family and with my closest friends I completely drop the typical gender related labels and I describe precisely to them how I identify.
In The Early Days
At the very beginning, when I made the decision to open up and seek medical assistance, I had a really hard time using labels. Because I myself don’t fully identify with any of the gender labels, using the words ‘trans‘, ‘transgender‘, or ‘trans/transgender woman‘ was super tough for me. I felt like I way lying to myself and to other people if I used gender labels. Even today I don’t feel 100% comfortable using them for myself, as I said above, because they don’t fully describe how I feel. But after seeing the usefulness of quickly getting a partial message across, I’m not finding it as hard to use these different labels as when I started.
Do you identify with any of the labels? If not, what term you use to describe yourself? If you do use labels, which gender label do you identify with? Here’s a Comprehensive* List of LGBTQ+ Vocabulary Definitions to help you out.
P.S. I don’t identify with the following label as it’s often used for youth and children, but I find it super interesting and cheerful: ‘gender creative‘.