• Terri

Labels vs Identity

I’ve previously shared my thoughts on the language used regarding ‘being autistic’ versus ‘having autism’; and like with that blog post it is not my intention dictate how others should use language, I’m just explaining my perspective on things.

Ok, disclaimer over, now onto what I wanted to address.

Labels. And I’m not just referring to the scratchy kind that can ruin a perfectly good item of clothing. I mean the words or phrases that are used to distil the multiple dimensions and complexities of a person.

We use labels as a shorthand way to communicate parts of ourselves to others and can even be used to express a sense of belonging and comradery with others who also identify with a particular label.

But there is a risk with labels. There’s an exclusion factor to them which allows them to be used to isolate people. They can be used to reduce a person to a single aspect. They can even cause disagreements as to whether a person should label themselves a certain way because they don’t ‘fit’ with a preconceived notion about what a particular label means.

It seems to be because of these negative aspects that labels and labelling people are now seen as a bad thing. Something that you shouldn’t do. Now before you go making the wrong assumption, I agree with that. No one should force a label onto another, nor should they see a label as being the entirety of a person’s existence.

Yet when it comes to discovering and expressing your own identity, labels can serve a purpose; but they should remain things that we chose for ourselves. Some labels are permanent (I am autistic, I have always been autistic, and will always be autistic), others are temporary (like a person’s relationship status), and some are fluid, flexible and ever changing (I’m going to be super honest here, all the examples I’m thinking of are NSFW, so you’ll have to come up with your own).

In the interest of wrapping up this post, and sharing some of my identity with you, here are some of the labels that I currently identify with;

  • Female

  • Autistic

  • Friend

  • Sister

  • Daughter

  • 0-1 on the Kinsey scale

  • Single

  • Geek

  • INTJ (Myers-Briggs)

  • Atheist

  • Gryffindor

  • Idjit

  • Blogger

  • Gamer


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