Labels & Self-Identification

How we complicate the labels we use to self-identify.

I try to learn and remember the plethora of labels people have created and co-opted for themselves; in both gender identity and sexual orientation. But I admittedly do not have the patience. I’ve seen so many variations of terms that ultimately mean the same thing; with levels of specificity that completely convolute the point of labeling oneself in the first place.

How effective is a label if it does not easily convey what it is identifying?

Heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, and asexual (as it pertains to human sexuality) are labels that work because, of their simplicity. They lack specificity, but they convey the idea well enough for most people to understand. Once you add modifiers to those terms, you complicate them.

Labels are just simple terms we use to categorize ourselves and one another into easy to understand groups. But people rarely fall into a single group. So creating or expanding terms to try to encompass all your many variations — all the groups and subgroups you belong to — is just unnecessarily complicated. It does not make it easier to understand you.

I consider myself an extremely open-minded person and even I get overwhelmed by the vast amount of terminology that exists. People self-identify using new or adapted vocabulary, but the language is inconsistent. There is no general consensus that makes understanding these identities easier.

I am supportive of any individual who identifies as something other. I have always embraced the complexities of gender and sexuality. I self-identify as bi or pan because, those are simple enough labels for most people to understand. But I don’t believe my sexuality, or anyone else’s, can ever be summed up in a single word or phrase. I am who I am, I like what I like. I will label myself for the sake of clarity, but I in no way expect a label to ever accurately and fully encompass who I am.

We need to simplify the labels we use because, labels aren’t meant to fully encompass who we are.

Your $0.02

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