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One of Dr. Phil's favorite homilies is, "No matter how flat you make the pancake, there's always 2 sides."
So, I'd like to give the other side of labels. During the 20th Century, diversity, especially gender diversity was poorly understood and therefore feared by many people and consequently reviled or worse by too many people. Fortunately, the 21st Century is indeed a new century and most people in developed nations have a better understanding of diversity in general and gender diversity in particular. Consequently, labels are more likely to be used as a guide to understanding people who are different rather than to attack them.
I have experienced this myself. it wasn't until the 1990's that I first presented myself in public as a man in a skirt. Let's just say it didn't go well. Twenty or so years later when I took another stab at it there was no comparison. Though a pitch black Winter night in the Alaska wilderness vs. a cloudless Summer day in Hawaii comes close.
Before I got a full head of hair from Hair Club, there was almost never any question as to my status. People addressed me as a male and did so courteously. Now that I have had my hair restored, there's been more confusion, occasionally store associates or wait staff refer to me as a "lady." At first I was annoyed by that. Then it was pointed out to me that most people aren't aware of how many shades of diversity are there so I have come to appreciate people's innocent errors as their attempt to be respectful and supportive of what they believe me to be. If it's going to be a brief, one-off interaction I just leave it at whatever it was and wonder if I was so well put together they thought I could only be a woman, not terribly well-endowed, but a woman or if they thought I was a transsexual and were trying to be respectful. Frankly, if it's the former, I'm flattered. If it's the latter, I appreciate that they're trying to be appropriate.
If there's a reason to think I'll see that person again or that we're going to be interacting for awhile, I will gently correct the misapprehension so that we can communicate successfully.
Make no mistake, the vast majority of the people who identify themselves as being somewhere in the 2SLGBTQIIAA+ spectrum are looking forward to the day that the general population gets it that there isn't just one way of being a male and another way of being a female, that we all deviate from the typical and all forms of discrimination have been dispensed with so we can all get back to just being people with one another. In the meantime, labels are a handy tool for most people to get a grip on who you are and how you want to be dealt with.
That's why I have been completely comfortable with "gender nonconforming" since I first stepped out my door to go to church on that fateful July Sunday in 2015. It just means that I present myself differently than what the social norms for males have lead most people to expect. Period. When I said I wanted to take my gender non-conformity to work, I was told that the only recognized label for that was "gender fluid." That made me gulp because it felt like a stretch, but once I adopted it I realized it's really not that different.
At least one denizen of this Café has stated he's not comfortable with either because some the only gender fluid people some folks have seen look like they're the opposite of their biological sex. So what if that's true? Many people would assume that only liberals would dress like we do, but that hasn't stopped any of our conservative members! As to the folks who actually are that limited in their experience, we owe it to them to show them that labels such as "gender fluid" covers a lot more territory than they thought. Or would you prefer that we turn the diversity alphabet soup into 2SLGBT11AAMIS+?
You could try, but I doubt you'd get much support. And right now, support is what it is all about. If we're going to ensure we have the legal and social right to come to work and go about our normal business dressed as we prefer, we're going to need political allies. It should be obvious, as Moonshadow's experience at the Pride event demonstrated, that there is a winning team out there that is ready to embrace if we will just embrace -- for as long as it might take to finish changing things -- a label that most people recognize. There's no getting around the fact that there is strength in numbers. That's why I'm suggesting as many of you as are willing to stretch yourselves should find a label that fits reasonably well, that's in common circulation (MIS isn't, btw) and embrace it.
Social norms aren't changed by Congress or Parliament; they're changed by a sufficient number of people ignoring the existing ones and publicly practicing new ones.
- Fred in Skirts
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Just DON'T call me late for dinner!!!
I call people by what ever label they want to be called by. But mostly I just call them Sir or Mam.
"The universal aptitude for ineptitude makes any human accomplishment an incredible miracle."
"It is better to be hated for what you are than be loved for what you are not" Andre Gide: 1869 - 1951
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- Location: Outback Australia
When I meet people, I get in first and introduce myself so they know what to call me. At a conference I will wear a name tag. If I want them to remember I will give them a card with my name on it.
What we put on our label may vary with different venues but generally one's name should suffice; with the assumption that people will accept the complex and unique individual that we are.
People who we don't get to meet might wrongly attribute a label to us but they do that with anything they are not educated about; plants, birds, cars, and will remain ignorant unless corrected. Sometimes labels are applied maliciously to us, although only hurtful if we love or respect the persons applying them.
Booking in to a motel, it is more important for them to know what we like to eat for breakfast than what our gender or sexuality is.
A romantic encounter; the latter might be more important ........... although if lucky the former might be too.