I have a friend who is very influential in the local Transgender community. She often will say that we don’t want any labels. Labels are bad and we should not use them. I disagree.
Humans are wonderful thinking machines. And we are born with a need for labels
Most parents will remember when their young children seem to say nothing except ‘What’s that?’. They can wear you out just pointing at things, asking the question. They want to give everything a name so they can identify it.
Adults do the same. When we see something, like say a ‘Bear’. We have know things about it. It’s dangerous, furry, hibernates in the winter. If we are interested in bears we may also know the species, indigenous regions it lives, what it likes to eat, etc.
We do this with humans as well. We recognize the approximate age of a person and apply facts to them. Are they old enough to have watched ‘All in the Family’ when it was new. Could they have fought in a war?
We also use this to help us understand how to act around someone and how they are most likely going to act around us. If we see someone with a red face, breathing hard, scowl across their mouth, our brains label them ‘upset’. We immediately change our actions in response.
Having lived in the trans community for several years now, I have come to understand that transgender is not the end all term. We are all different. Our goals, orientation, comfort levels, experiences are all vastly different.
I use the label ‘bi-gender’ because it best describes how I feel. It lets anyone else who understand the label know more about me quickly.
This is when labels are good.
The words, Bear and Adult are labels. So are American, tall, married and blonde. Nobody takes exception to these kinds of labels. Unless they don’t apply. Someone from the UK will almost always dislike being called Australian. It’s not labels that are bad, it when they are incorrectly applied that makes then wrong
I came across this chart today on Facebook, and think it is definitely in the right direction.
(source -‘Transgender is Normal’ via Blaine Santos)