Who wants to be labelled as something one isn’t? Not me. Is there a value to putting a name to one’s own identity, or identities? I think so. I was doing research for the Genderqueer History and Identities project I’m working on and while at the library I came across a book called Understanding Transgender Diversity by Claire Ruth Winter. In the back, there was a glossary and amongst the words included was “label”, defined below:
Label: Name or category applied by someone else, as opposed to self-identification.
The image of labels I have in my mind tends to be of someone putting a sticker on a jar to show what is in that jar or how much it costs. This kind of labeling is useful for possessions, but not so useful for people, as a mental labeling of others’ attributes can at its worst lead to prejudiced, harmful behavior, while letting others label you and being content with the labels that they administer on their terms is relinquishing your power to define yourself. As I better understand myself, I can use my own self-descriptions to my advantage by claiming words that matter to me, that I feel are to my benefit, and utilizing them for empowerment.