Are we only what we can describe?

Quinn wrote…

I’ve always wondered why people are so caught up on labels. Sure, they make things easier, but in the end, are we really only what we can describe?

So many people I know are beyond labels, beyond boxes, beyond ‘female’ or ‘male’ or ‘trans’ that I almost feel sorry for people who feel they need to put themselves or others in boxes. They miss so very much.

Labels have become a recurring theme in Your Voice; how do you respond to labels? Are you “missing” out when you chose a label? Or are you “beyond” labels (any or only some)?

And what are you thinking about gender right now?

Posted by on April 3rd, 2009 at 08:00 am

Category: your voice 5 comments »

5 Responses to “Are we only what we can describe?”

  1. Bee

    I do feel like I'm missing out whenever I'm addressed or describe myself with a label that doesn't quite fit. If I know someone well, I might do a bit of explaining… But for convenience's sake, I'm alright with it.


  2. AgentRusco

    I often consider labels a hinderance. However, I do understand that they are useful and even necessary for those who do not understand. They are simply a tool. But each person has a different definition for whatever label they choose. When I use the label 'androgyne" I may be thinking of something quite different than what my brother would think, or my roommate. So labels are a base, but they should be in no way constraining.


  3. Weasel

    For more or less everyone who interacts with the world outside of a scene, labels are at least a utility. For some, falling within the umbrella of the right label is survival.

    Others have simply examined the options and find they more or less fit within the space of one, at least as much as it matters to anyone who doesn’t know them personally. It’s in the face to face, heart to heart relationship that labels are best/most easily abandoned and you can show someone your whole self.

    So, be careful not to privilege transgression in the same way you see people privilege compliance, don’t assume someone who presents to you wearinga label is living the unexamined life … and be careful where you splash pity, it’s a right arse to get out of the carpet.


  4. genderkid

    It bugs me to choose "male" or "female" in almost every sphere of life because none of those words describe me precisely; but I wouldn't feel completely accurate choosing one alternative label, either, such as transgender or genderqueer. It's hard to reduce oneself to just one or two words! There's so much variety, even among people who identify as male (or female), that those labels don't seem to say much about a person.

    I agree with Bee; labels are just a convenience. At least gender labels inform people about my pronoun preference when it isn't worth it to explain my identity.


  5. gunk

    I'm new and wanted to comment on this one – labels for me are something that I've always wanted to be able to apply to myself, I've always longed for something to define myself, but have constantly found myself falling outside of these boxes. I'd like not to care about labels, but I do – I guess it's a search for identity that I'd like to be able to put words to. I think maybe other people have this in common with me. It can definitely be easier to have a label for someone as an initial point of understanding, as long as you can keep an open mind and are not limited by that label when/where it doesn't fit. Traditional labels definitely need a lot of work, but sometimes it's nice to have a name for yourself.


Leave a Reply

Can I show your picture? If you have a Gravatar associated with this email address, it will be displayed as your photo. If not, I'll just put a picture of a fork next to your comment. Everybody likes forks.

Be nice. Judgmental comments will be quietly deleted and blacklisted. There's plenty of room for those elsewhere on the web.

For legal reasons, you must be age 13 or older to post a comment on Genderfork.

You can use some HTML tags for formatting, e.g. <em>...</em> for emphasis (italics) or <strong>...</strong> for strong emphasis (bold) or <a href="http://(url)">...</a> for links.

Back to top