11 August 2017

Who and What Are You?

Describe yourself in five words. How many of those words are labels? It’s 2017 and we naturally have more adjectives than at any point in history. I have no evidence to back up that statement, but I reckon it’s true. Since the end of the Second World War and through the eras of sexual liberation, civil rights, drug exploration and the advancement in digital communication, we have explored new horizons and experimented in more ways than our ancestors could ever imagine. With that, we have had to create words to describe these newfound ways of being. These new words can only be described, as ironic as that is, as labels.

We now have words for 60 recognised genders and we have expanded the gay community to LGBTQQAAIP. Go back 70 years (when homosexuality was illegal) and imagine what labels you’d use to describe someone. After the colour of one’s skin, their nationality, their religion and their political leaning, you’d be hard pushed to think of anything else. Now, you can describe someone as a male born non-binary Jewish queer socialist Mexican Latino, and still have numerous labels left that could apply to them. 

As far as the 60-odd genders go, this is something that tends to divide opinion. A lot of people, who are mainly straight (if I may), have decided that there are only two genders - male and female. However, their ignorance is shown with this opinion because there is a difference between gender and sex. One’s sex is how you are defined at birth for having either a penis or a vagina. One’s gender is a personal perception of how one feels. Gender isn’t about physical attributes, and although we are yet to fully understand the human brain, it’s clear that many people do not feel male nor female. I believe the vast array of genders is a good thing. It’s good to be different. The world would be a much more boring place if everyone was the same. I don’t fully understand how someone can’t feel male nor female, but that doesn’t mean they’re lying. Simply because someone can’t comprehend something doesn’t mean it’s untrue. Moreover, it really shouldn’t bug people so much that there are now over 60 genders. That’s something I really don’t understand. Why do the people who are against the existence of the other genders get to annoyed about it?

Could it be that we have too many labels? Could it be that we are so obsessed with labelling each other that we are building divides and splitting into more groups? I think it’s probably a good thing that we are realising that genders aren’t simply male or female and that there are more sexualities than just gay or straight. I do think, however, that we like to assign labels to ourselves to give ourselves a meaning. But, with that, it means we categorise people are shoved them into pigeon holes. Once we define ourselves as one label, it’s hard to shake off and redefine yourself. If you call yourself a gay man and then one day you sleep with a woman on a drunken night out, does that then make you bisexual? He might not find women physically attractive, but he slept with a woman. This is why I believe it’s good to use umbrella terms such as ‘queer’ instead of choosing one of the other letters in LGBTQQAAIP.

Here’s the hippy part: let’s all just stop labelling each other and see everyone as simply ‘human’. No, don’t do that. We are all different. We are all our own person. Define yourself however you want and be proud of who and what you are. But, remember, you don’t have to let your label define you. Maybe the world would just be a better place if we stopped judging each other...

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