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Struggling with Labels



This morning I came across this wonderful post on Joanna Santos' blog: https://joannabefree.blogspot.com/2016/10/my-own-coming-out.html I know we don't typically reference sites off of TGG but I feel this is important.

There, she posts a video that really resonated with me, that labels such as gay, male, white, transgender, etc., may set us up for "us vs. them" feelings, thus leading to isolation and our considering ourselves only within that label, which is only a part of our overall self. 

I've recently been thinking, okay I am transgender but that is not all that I am. But it kind of felt that way. Worse, I fear my wife feels this way, too. It's as if my being trans is the only thing now. And neither of us want that.

In the video the person (can't recall his name) makes the point that if we say "I have gender dysphoria" that we can more naturally consider things like:

1. How will I accept, manage, and live with my gender dysphoria?
2. What does gender dysphoria mean for me in the context of my total life?

I think that is healthy to consider. I recently came out to a couple of our friends as transgender. They were okay with it at least to my face but now I think I may return to them and refine myself as "I'm me, with gender dysphoria." I mean, who cares what the label is? I'm simply working on ways to manage my dysphoria (which is undeniable) and be happy as a total person, with my wife, friends, and doing whatever it is that we do. 


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Please, everyone, consider MUST VIEWING of Emma's link.

The transwoman who was the love of my life, she did not do hormones and had no surgery, but I considered her as much a woman and lady as any transwoman.  Refused to pressure her to have hormones and surgery, and, in fact, I encouraged her to take her time.  She was very lucky to be in a very supportive transgender support group who pressured no one.  

Being transgender has everything to do within your head and very little to do with the body, in my opinion.

Must confess, I asked my beloved to present herself as a woman and as a lady in my presence.

My beloved's health was my primary concern.


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There's a lot packed into this post - let me start by saying that I think everyone should be free to identify as they will (within reason of course, if I tried to identify as black for example I would expect to be challenged or flat-out mocked). 

I think it changes the conversation a bit to look at identities vs labels - it feels to me a little more substantive and whether we like it or not identity differences do exist and they do matter (they may be social constructs but even a social construct is real). I could, for example, claim that my being white isn't important - but since white is a "privileged" identity I would be wrong.

Anyway, being trans is obviously different (since there is no such thing as "trans privilege") so I agree that we are each free to incorporate it into own lives as we want. Personally I've gone from highlighting it ("trans woman") to burying it ("woman") to pushing it back ("woman who is transgender") - and I generally only mention it to people as we get closer.

One other thing - to one of Monica's points - to me being transgender is part of me body, mind, and soul - for some it may be primarily in the mind, but I don't think that's universal by any means.



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I think it's way to easy to forget that those label's are the start of a conversation, not the end.  They're a way to indicate a common ground, I'm a nerd, I'm an animal lover, I'm a mother, but then the individuality needs to be explored after. 

Examples of what I mean: I'm a nerd, as in I like a lot of the nerdy entertainments and science, but I can't hack or program a computer.  I'm an animal lover, but I like to eat meat and believe in the cycles of life, including death(for the record I am againts eating endangered species though, they need to be preserved until they have a healthy enough population again, other animals are eating them they don't need to feed us too until a healthy balance can happen).  I'm a mother, but I don't fit in with a lot of of the other mothers who want to shield the children from everything, I believe just talk about topics to the kids and adjust them to the real world they'll have to enter when they are grown anyway in small steps as you encounter it.

Everyone has labels, mass mass plural.  No one has just one label.  Reven in ALL of them my friend!

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Hi Christie,

Thank you very much for supplying your thoughts and feedback. As I imagine you saw in yesterday's blog post (and perhaps getting weary of hearing me say it) I am yet again accepting the fact that I'm transgender. So, that's a label I wear and it's the one I've used when coming out recently to family and friends. For most the way I started the conversation was by saying something that is very true for me, "since I was about 4 or 5 years old I always wanted to play on the girls' team." I wanted to be a girl, plain and simple. And now at 60 I'm not sure what other label I should use for myself or if I even need one. I don't know what I feel comfortable with. I imagine that will come with time and experience. 

Hi Bree,

Excellent points my friend. In fact I was thinking that way exactly as I mentally prepared to come out to my sons, and I hoped it would start a conversation. I did give them the first line that I quoted above, and then as a follow on said that I am transgender. For my 28 year old, it was the start of a lot of talk, emails, and SMSs over the following week or so. It was fun for me because he was so interested in learning more, and completely accepting. For my 32 year old it was more of a quick, "Okay, you're transgender, and no, I don't need to know more than that." He didn't say it negatively and since I had no idea how to interpret his response I let it go. We spent the rest of the time just catching up on our lives and plans.  

Take care and be well!


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