I Used to Hate Labels

A friend of mine shared an article yesterday about why cisgender isn’t a negative term. Unsurprisingly, there were some people who jumped in with the “why do we need labels” retort. And I get it. Believe me, I get it. Hell, the former me would’ve been the one posting that comment.

For a hell of a long time, I was so anti-label it got me into internet arguments. I’m sure I was called a troll more than once because of my vehement insistence that we would all be better off if we were just people rather than being gay people or straight people or whatever the hell else.

It wasn’t until recently that I realized why I was so against them. I agree that in some cases, it’s a matter of privilege. If you’re not part of a marginalized group, it’s easy to say the label is unnecessary. But that wasn’t the case in my situation. For me, it was about not having the label that fit me.

I felt like I was in high school all over again. You had the jocks, the nerds, the cool kids, etc. And then, there were those of us who created our island of misfit personalities. We didn’t fit in anywhere, but we sure did try to figure out who we were.

Times were different back then. There was no GSA. There were no out students. Everyone was assumed straight unless proven otherwise. Hell, it was about fifteen years after high school when I found out the boy I was going to marry someday was happy and in love with a man. And that was cool, but it was the beginning of my awakening.

By then, I knew of three sexuality labels: gay, straight, and bi. I’d been with men, so obviously I wasn’t gay. But I’d loved a woman, so I couldn’t be straight. To my mind, that left me holding the only label remaining; I must be bi. But I wasn’t. Not once when I tried to tell someone I was bi did it feel right. And so, I learned to hate labels.

Now that I’ve found labels that fit (and realize they don’t have to be stuck on my ass with super glue), they’re comforting.

I’m demisexual. And yes, that’s a label I’ve learned isn’t without controversy, but I find peace in knowing there’s a term for a person like me, who can’t feel sexual attraction without an emotional connection. need that label because it reminds me I’m not weird and there are other people like me out there.

I’m non-binary. I don’t have to be transgender or cisgender. This place in the middle is perfectly acceptable until the time comes (if it comes) when there’s a different label that fits me better. Again, by owning this piece of me and putting a label on it, I am a part of something.

And sometimes, you need that, especially when the something you’re a part of is outside societal norms. Labels aren’t for people on the outside looking in, they’re a way for the people on the inside to say “This is me.”

If you feel like labels are unnecessary because you don’t need one, consider yourself lucky. You’re in a place where you’re either privileged enough to be in the societal majority or your comfortable enough with yourself to not give a damn. If you feel that way because you haven’t found the label that fits you, know you’re not alone.