Be Gone, Chest Dysphoria!

My chest binder should be hopefully coming tomorrow! Which will mean that some of my dysphoria will be alleviated – anyone who knows me knows that I never shut up about my chest dysphoria. I am more excited than nervous about chest binding, I’m now 100% sure that this will be the right thing to do (for me at least) – moreover, I’m also excited because it’ll bring me more gender euphoria than dysphoria (though having dysphoria isn’t a requirement for being trans).

Obviously, this will be a stepping stone which will help me decide if top surgery is the right choice for me. But, if I do decide to get top surgery, then there would be a list of things I would want to do post – op. But if you are pre – op, or are thinking about if binding your chest is right for you, please know that whatever choice you decide to go with, you are 100% valid! 

Though in terms of wearing it, I plan to maybe wear it around the house in order to get used to it, then maybe – just maybe – wear it in public. If I do decide to wear it in public, I  plan on wearing it to Freedom (an LGBTQ+ youth group in the UK) – though unfortunately I can’t wear it to choir because it’ll restrict my breathing. I’ll also remember to stretch lots. 

I just wanted to write and post this because it is some very exciting news that I want to share, as it will improve my body confidence, as well as help with my gender expression. It’ll help with my gender expression because it will, hopefully, help me feel more masculine. But I’m sooo excited about getting my gc2b binder, because it’s something that I’ve wanted to do. I will also try and post a picture of myself on social media when my binder comes tomorrow, so you all will be able to see it. 

 Though I am over the moon about binding, it has been a bit difficult to stay 100% positive and patiently waiting for my chest binder to arrive – I’ve been waiting a while for it to arrive, so for it to be so close is almost unbearable.  However, I am nervous about taking it off afterwards, and I know that my chest dysphoria will come back afterwards, so that’ll suck. 

But overall,  I know I have to be patient for my chest binder  to arrive. 

 

A Post Top Surgery Bucket List

As I continue to wait for my binder, I think about some of the things I want to do if I decide to get top surgery – though I’m now definitely sure that I want to give off the appearance of a flat chest (because anyone knows me knows that I never stop venting about my chest dysphoria). While I believe that you don’t need dysphoria to identify as trans, I will admit the possibility of getting top surgery will hopefully rid of any chest discomfort that I already have. Though it will not eliviate all of my dysphoria, I do feel as though it will help with my overall  gender expression goal (which is to look more masculine) – despite the fact that I have no current desire to start testosterone.

But I wanted to make a bucket list of all the possible things I want to do if I decide that top surgery is right for me. I also wanted to make this list because if any of you are considering top surgery, or have already had it, you may find this useful in some way. 

So here are some of the things I want to do if I decide that I want top surgery:

  • Not having to wear my binder: I am aware that I won’t be able to wear my binder 24 / 7 which means I will have days where not wearing it will make me feel weird as well as wrong. But if and when I get top surgery, I will no longer have to worry about remembering to put my binder on. 
  • Donate my binder: Due to the fact that I will no longer be wearing a binder, I could donate it to someone who needs it, which will make both them and myself feel good. 
  • Get my binder signed: If I decide not to donate my binder, I would like to get it signed and possibly framed in a future apartment. 
  • Feel more confident: This will also improve my self- confidence, as I will not feel when envious surrounded with other flat chested folks. I will no longer hate my chest, as top surgery may make me feel a lot happier with my body – though, overall, I do love being a transmasculine nonbinary person.
  • Feel clothes against my skin: Not wearing sports / my binder will mean that I will able to feel clothes against my flat chest, which is an experience I hope I will enjoy. 
  • Be shirtless on the beach: Wearing swimming costumes makes me dysphoric, so if I can find some swimming shorts that are for AFAB individuals, then I will be able to wear swimming shorts and show off my chest. Even if I don’t swim, being shirtless on the beach will be a euphoric experience.
  • Be shirtless more often: Even if I’m not on the beach, I may have the confidence to be shirtless in other places, or simply just have more buttons exposed – this will be because, like I mentioned earlier, I may be feeling a lot more confident. I may even have the confidence to be shirtless at a future Pride event. 
  • Sleep with no shirt on: Due to this new found confidence, I may feel confident to sleep without a shirt on, as I will hopefully be more confident and comfortable with my chest overall. 
  • Showering: Due to my chest dysphoria, I hate looking down at my chest – but with top surgery I will be able to look at my chest and feel a sense of pride, comfort and freedom – as well as a sense happiness.
  • Get a tattoo across my chest: I’ve always wanted to get a tattoo, but getting a tattoo where my surgery scars will be might add some much needed validation to my chest – maybe I could get one that says ‘freedom‘ across my chest? Who knows. 
  • Wear more masculine coded clothing: I would say that my style is already pretty masculine coded, but if I were to get top surgery, I feel as though it would be easier to wear more masculine coded clothing due to my flat chest. This, I feel, would be a euphoric experience. 

Furthermore, and like I mentioned before, I’m still waiting for my binder to arrive, but I will try to remain optimistic and hopeful that one day it will come. But for now, my chest dysphoria may get pretty bad, but I have hope that one day that my binder will arrive – and I know this will eliviate some of my gender dysphoria. 

How To Choose Your First Name

As part of your social transition, you may wish to change your first name to something that fits you better – and thats understandable! But choosing a new name when you’ve had your old one for however long can be difficult, so I wanted to write up a guide on how you can come up with a name that suits you. So if you decide that you want to  change your name, you can read my previous post about changing your name here.

I wanted to write this because honestly the process of choosing my name wasn’t a particularly eventful one – I literally just typed in ‘gender neutral names’ into google and went onto the first website I could find. I may even do a follow up post on how to choose a middle name if you want to. But please bear in mind that choosing a new name is truly personal to each person, so there’s no wrong way to choose a name – and if you want to change it at any point, that’s fine and valid!

Firstly, you should consider whether you want your new, real name to have any resemblance to your current name – so do you want it to start with the same letter? Do you want it to sound the same? I consider these questions to be important because it will obviously affect what type of name you can have, but if you experience little dysphoria surrounding your old name (which is perfectly ok and valid), then this would be a definite recommendation.

If you want a name that is completely unrelated to your deadname, thats perfectly ok as well – what I would recommend is that you search ‘gender neutral names’ on Google, and find a site that has gender neutral names. Then, simply scroll through the list of names provided then select the one that you like the most. This could help with possible social dysphoria regarding your old name, so by choosing a name that is completely derived from that name could help alleviate that dysphoria. 

I Want To Change My Name!: A Guide On How To Change Your Name (UK)

Changing my name is something I’ve been toying with ever since I chosen my name – because surprisingly, Casey, alongside my middle names, are not the name I was given at birth. The names I were given to me at birth were, in fact, Sidonie Martha Caitlin Browne – but just because I have just given you this very information, it is not an excuse to use them, despite the fact that my deadname still gives me a bit of dysphoria. But the overall reason as to why I wanted to write this post is because I wanted write about how one may wish to legally change their name as a part of their transition – specifically, this is referred to as part as one’s social transition.  I also wanted to make this post because I want my blog to be a hopefully helpful resources to other LGBTQ+ folks. But please bear in mind that I live in the UK, so I don’t know how changing your name works in other parts of the world – so this resource will be the most useful those who want to change their name in the UK. Additionally, I wanted to write this because I am actually considering legally changing my name, despite the cost of changing it – because changing one’s name is expensive, be it after a divorce, marriage or civil partnership (but I’ going to be focusing on the social transition aspect of changing one’s name). 

But what’s in a name? For many, choosing and changing your legal names is the first crucial step in their transition. This is because many trans people hate their birth name because it can be a source of dysphoria (but if you don’t experience dysphoria due to your birth name, that’s fine). I don’t hate my birth name exactly, but despite my indifference towards it, seeing it written on formal documents (such as my passport or bank statements) does give me a negative feeling – and sometimes, if I’m feeling particularly dysphoric, it can cause me to internally deadname myself. But before I made the leap and chose a completely different name all together, I would shorten my name to ‘Sid.’ But I consider my old name a placeholder for Casey, which I refer now as my ‘real name’, because that’s what it is – it’s a gift that I no log need, a piece of clothing that no longer fits – and just like an unneeded  gift or piece of clothing, I am not obligated to keep them, and I can new ones if I so wish. 

Additionally, the name I use now, will certainly be the name I decide to change it to – the name ‘Casey’ means, according to thinkbabynames.com, “alert, watchful”,  and is apparently of  Irish and Gaelic origin. Furthermore, according to Wikipedia, my real name uses a similar definition, ‘vigilant or watchful’ – but it can also be used as a nickname, as it can be used as a shorthand name for the name Cassandra. But since I don’t want to use the name Cassandra, I’ll be sticking to the name Casey – and the most common nickname I have been given so far is ‘Case,’ which is an obvious shorthand nickname for Casey. Anyway, I think I will be glad that I decided to change my name, and that I will not regret it – moreover, and I know this will sound cheesy, but I feel as though Casey is who I was supposed to be. 

Now, let’s get into the nitty gritty bit of legally changing your name in the UK – though I will mention that you can change your name yourself in the UK if you are if you’re 16 or over. In the UK, you have to do a ‘dead poll‘ – which is basically a simply a document that contains the following three declarations:

 I am abandoning my previous name.

 I will use my new name at all times.

 I require all persons to address me by my new name only.

After you have read the declaration and understood it, you must sign it using both your new name and your old name.Your new name must include a last name and a forename to be pronounceable, and you must also agree to other common sense restrictions, as specified by the Home Office. You must also have two witnesses, who aren’t related to you, must also sign the dead poll, and they must give their names, address, and occupation. 

However, you can also prepare it yourself using the phrases shown in Ministry of Justice form LoC020, but you can also pay a solicitor or specialist agency to help you if you so wish. But one downside to this is that the bigger agencies charge £35 – but luckily the UK Deed Poll Office and the Legal Deed Poll Service charge less than £15, plus you can get a free template from Free UK Deed Poll, and is accepted by the following banks:  DVLA, Barclays, Royal Bank of Scotland, NatWest, the Co-operative Bank, First Direct, HSBC, CallCredit and Nationwide. So if you choose to go for the DIY option, make the declaration, then I would recommend printing off onto high quality paper – I would also recommend printing off a few copies. Then present this crucial information to any relevant authorities and financial institutions. 

 

 

 

Being Visibly Queer

For me, being open about my queerness (specifically my bisexuality and nonbinaryness) is important. This is because it is something I take pride in. Though I understand that not everyone wants to be out and proud, and that’s perfectly valid, I choose to be out because it is a part of who I am, and I don’t think I should hide that from anyone (unless I think the situation is too unsafe to be LGBTQ+, or I’m not up to on a particular day) – additionally, being out and proud just gives me a sense of happiness. Though I will admit that I wasn’t out and proud during secondary school, so overtime I have become more and more proud of my identity – so I guess that claiming my identity as a queer person has become a sort of empowering and radical act in some way.

In real life, I do this by wearing my ‘Pride’ jacket and my rainbow t-shirt. In addition, I will wear my pride flags when I go to Freedom Youth (a youth group for LGBTQ+ young people), and talk to friends about all the shenanigans about what cishet people are up to (though I will also do this with my online friends). This gives me a great sense of Pride in my identity because I can openly laugh at what cishet people are like with like – minded individuals. Furthermore, I have made some of the best friends I think I have ever had. I’ve also made a blog post as to why I love being a transmasculine nonbinary person, and you can read it here

Whilst online I may share something on social media about something relating to the LGBTQ+ community. I will also post LGBTQ+ related stuff onto this blog – be it personal experiences and / or thoughts or book reviews – this gives me a great sense of pride in my identity because I can openly share my experiences, which will hopefully help someone. Like I mentioned before, coming out has allowed me to make some of my closest friends who listen to me during dysphoric episodes, and are just some of the best friends I have ever had –  as well as being LGBTQ+, I can talk to them about non-LGBTQ+ topics such as Steven Universe or Hamilton, which is great because I can a). geek out about something I’m interested in, and b). I can gush about feelings about these fandoms I’m in. It also gives us a basis of conversation, which is also nice. 

Speaking of my blog, I wanted to share my experiences and thoughts because I feel as though it will be my form of activism – with the current political climate going on at the moment, I feel as though being an LGBTQ+ activist is as important as ever. Plus, running an LGBTQ+ blog has given me more media experience, due to the fact that I’m studying a media course this September (but don’t worry, I’ll try and update the blog as much as I can during university). 

I’ve also written some blog post as to why I like being visibly queer – while they’re not directly linked, I’ve written about why I think labels and self-identification are important, and what  labels I currently use to identify myself. I wanted to link these into this post because, specifically with the labels post, it is something I personally find interesting. These have also helped me to be more visibly queer because they have helped me map out who I am, and have made me realise that being a part of the LGBTQ+ community isn’t the only aspect of who I am – but being a part of the LGBTQ+ community is still a huge part of who I am. 

 

 

 

 

 

Trans Envy / Jealousy: It’s More Likely Than You Think & How to Deal with It

It is perfectly normal to feel envious – but I want to talk about these feelings within the trans community. I will also provide a few video links when I publish this blog post. Though I will stress that while it is perfectly valid to feel this way, it is how you express those feelings of jealousy towards other people. I also know that every trans experience is different – so by no means am I trying determine what you may experience as a trans person. 

So why would a trans person feel jealous / envious of another trans person? Well here are some reasons as to why this may be the case, as well as possible solutions to these problems:

  • Passing:Passing‘ is a concept which means that someone looks like their gender identity. So for example, a trans person may wish to pass as being more masculine, and this may include taking testosterone and having top surgery – Obviously passing isn’t a requirements for being trans, and someone may not want to / be able to pass for a variety of reasons (e.g. out of choice or an unsafe environment). But it’s also perfectly ok if you want to pass! For me, testosterone isn’t something I currently want, simply because it isn’t something I desire. Solution: Try and not compare your gender expression to other trans people, because there is no ‘wrong’ way to express your gender identity. 
  • Surgeries: This links in with my first point, but some trans people want surgeries – some don’t, and both options are perfectly valid. But as someone who’s toying with the possibility of getting top surgery, I can’t help but compare my chest to those who may bind or has had top surgery – and admittedly, I do feel dysphoric about my chest. Solution: Research. I would recommend researching reliable surgeons in your area / country. But obviously the choice to have top surgery is yours!
  • Parts / Hormones: Again, this is something I mentioned in my first point, but taking testosterone isn’t something I particularly desire, and my downstairs doesn’t give me much dysphoria (apart from when it’s shark week). Solution: Again, do some research – I would recommend researching the side effects of your preferred HRT treatment. Again, the choice to have bottom surgery is yours!
  • Comparison: If you choose to medically transition, then you may feel envious that someone is taking those steps and you aren’t able to  / aren’t currently transition. While it is perfectly valid to feel envious over medical transition, it is not ok to negatively lash out on that person. Solution: Try and not compare your tranness to other trans individuals, because whether you choose to medically transition in fine – and if you can’t medically transition, just know that you are still your gender identity and that you are perfectly valid!  

 

Gender Identity / Expression, Body Positivity & Gender Euphoria

There is a difference between gender identity and gender expression – gender identity is how you identify, whilst gender expression is how you choose your gender expression (so for example, someone may identify as nonbinary (this would be their gender identity) but may expresses themselves in a more masculine way (this would be their gender expression).  I also want to talk about how this may positively impact body positivity and gender euphoria. I wanted to write this because firstly I am interested in gender, and because I wanted to share my experience with gender identity and expression, and how it effects me. I will provide two YouTube videos which I find useful, as this is an interesting topics, much like my posts about labels and self identification – as well as my blog posts surrounding trans topics. I will also provide a picture of what my current hair style is!

Everyone has a gender identity, and this means that everyone expresses their gender differently – this can be from anything from clothing, haircut, whether or not you wear makeup, or your voice and speech patterns. So for example, when I wear more typically masculine clothing (e.g. a suit or a flannel top), this will have a positive output on me because it will affirm my gender identity and how I choose to express it. This also makes me feel body positive because whilst I do experience gender dysphoria, expressing my gender in a more masculine way does help to relieve it. I also think that it is not a requirement to have gender dysphoria in order to fall under the trans umbrella – so if you experience little to no dysphoria and still identify as trans, that’s also fine, as the only requirement of being trans is not not identify with the gender you were assigned at birth (which also differentiates from gender identity and expression). So if I were to wear a dress, this would have a negative impact on me because it would cause me to have gender dysphoria, as I would not feel affirmed in my gender identity and gender expression (Sidenote #1: If you identify as transmasculine and choose to present in a more feminine way, that’s fine!

If you compare this to what I was like when  I was much younger, there has a significant change – so for example, when I was younger I enjoyed stereotypically feminine things like the colour pink, Sylvanian Families, and My Little Ponies – and I also dressed in clothes that were ‘designed for girls’. Obviously there has been some changes – my favourite colour is yellow, and I no longer play with Sylvanian Families and My Little Ponies – and I now dress in more masculine clothing, which I remember starting at some point during secondary school. 

I have also recently chosen to have my hair styled differently – the back / sides have been shaved, whilst the top remains longer – this also makes me euphoric because I can choose to wear it in a ponytail or not, plus I feel as though it is more masculine / androgynous.  (Sidenote #2: I know that hairstyles have no gender, I still feel more masculine with this particular hairstyle). Plus, my current style is just aesthetically pleasing to me, and I can’t explain why. 

This also links in nicely with my hair experience – I used to have long hair when I was younger, but my mum and I would always fight when I had to have it brushed, so I got it cut short – like short. Then, as I got older, I had a pixie hairstyle for a long time, and now I have the hairstyle I have now because I wanted a change for my hair. Speaking of hair, dying your hair can also be a part of gender expression – in terms of colours, I have only had my hair blue and purple. I dyed my hair blue at the end of my GCSEs, and the purple hair was a result of going to my cousins wedding. 

In terms of pronouns, they have definitely seen a change – before I started to question my gender identity, I used she / her pronouns, because, at the time and not even realising it, I identified as a cisgender bisexual female. Then when I discovered that I was a demigirl, I used she / they pronouns, because I still partly identified as a girl, but not entirely. But overtime, that term didn’t feel right – so when I found the term non-binary, it fit, and while it still does, I still want to express myself in a more masculine manner. So that’s why I like the term transmasculine so much. I wanted to include pronouns because they can also be a part of someone’s gender identity, and obviously anyone is free to any pronoun they want, and all you have to do is respect that, as well as  use them. (Sidenote #3: Anyone of any gender / sexuality (which are two different things) can use whatever pronouns they want! So this could include nonbinary lesbian who uses they / them pronouns for example).  

 

Pride: Protest or Party?

In this blog post, I want to share my thoughts on whether Pride should be a protest or a party – because  I honestly believe that we can’t have one without the other. I believe this because I think that they are both equally important, and I can’t imagine having a Pride event without one of these aspects. Additionally, I think I do have a solution as to way to solve this problem – we could have protest / activism activities during the day, and all the celebration events during the evening / night time – this would mean that the individuals could come and leave Pride whenever they want.  

But Pride is important – no can deny that. This is because Pride began as protests against police brutality towards LGBTQ+ people – from rioting transgender women of colour in San Francisco in 1966 ino the infamous Stonewall riots. In addition, the first Pride Parade was in New York City and took place in 1970, which was one year after Stonewall. So while Pride did start as a protest, it has turn into a more pinkwashed affair. But that doesn’t mean that the fight for LGBTQ+ rights is over – for example, in the UK today, a third of employers wouldn’t hire a trans person. Furthermore, in the last year, hate crimes based on a person’s sexuality rose by 27%. When you also face institutional discrimination, especially if you have intersectional identities, then it runs the risk of having your many identities being ignored. This is due to the fact that Pride is often associated with white, cisgender, gay men – though a solution to this problem would be to include events which are more catered towards intersecting identities, or to have educational resources being published. Either way, no one should feel left out of Pride. 

Intersectionality is important for any political movement, because no one person fits into just one box – you have to consider how all of your identity affects how you experience oppression. So highlighting racism, for example, within the LGBTQ+ community, is a part of why Pride should be more focused on being a protest – to backup my point,  Stonewall research published in June showed that LGBTQ+ members who were POC were more likely to face discrimination within the LGBTQ+ community. 

But that doesn’t mean that Pride should just be limited to what we still have to do – because it is also important to celebrate how far we’ve come. For example, Dream Nails set up Queer Prom, which is an event that takes place every year, and the weekend after Pride. On year, the event raised money for Action for Trans Health

In addition, we should celebrate how far we’ve come because – and I know this will sound cliche – it really does get better. This isn’t to say that be part of the LGBTQ+ community is all rainbows and sunshine, because it isn’t – but once you’ve decided to come out, you will hopefully be welcomed with open arms. But obviously everyone’s coming out experience is unique, and not everyone chooses to come out, which is also completely fine. Furthermore, Pride should be a celebration because it could inspire someone to come out – for example,  this could be to a family member, or a friend – and even if you are unable to come out, it could give you a spark of hope that it does get better. 

Moreover, and like I said before, we have earnt the right to party our butts off – after everything we have fought for, we deserve to have a bit of fun. But let the parties be intersectional and inclusive, because the LGBTQ+ community is more than just cis white gay men – and the parties should reflect that. Though this raises the problem that Pride has become equated to alcohol and glitter – this is a valid criticism, especially from a booze perceptive, because a). it fails to take into account those who are not old enough to drink alcohol (so for example, in the UK, this would be individuals who were under the age of 18), and b). it fails to consider those, who by choice, choose not drink alcohol (which is perfectly OK). A solution to this would be to simply supply non-alcoholic drinks. 

The Disempowerment of Labels

From what you may have gathered from my last post, I like labels, but I can definitely understand why someone might feel this way – and this is what I want to write about  today.  This doesn’t mean that I change my stance on labels, it’s just that I wanted to write about the disadvantages that labels have – we all label ourselves, as well as use them to self identify.  

With sexual and romantic orientation, such labels are supposed to describe our identity, not prescribe us to one particular. We should dictate our labels, and not the other way around. For example, our romantic orientation might not match up with your sexual orientation (e.g. you might be an aromantic pansexual). 

Labels can also be oppressive – but this only when we force them onto others. Impsosing labels on others is rooted in queerphobia and monosexism. For example, if you use the word ‘gay’ towards someone who doesn’t identify as gay, but shows behaviours that is stereotypically associated with gay men for instance – this can be oppressive. Secondly, your are assuming negative stereotypes about gay people – this is dangerous because it is rooted in homophobia. 

Furthermore, let’s look at another example – non-monosexual people (this refers to someone who is attracted to more than one gender – so pansexual, bisexual and polysexual people all fall under this term) – are often put into a ‘straight’ or ‘gay’ relationship based on which gender they are dating. For example, if a bisexual person is in a relationship with a man, they will be labelled as a ‘heterosexual relationship’, so the risk is being told that you’re ‘not queer enough’ for dating a man – therefore, the label ‘heterosexual’ thrust upon the person, despite the fact that you don’t identify as straight. This is a direct example of bi/pan-erasure (which is also mentioned in my ‘In Defense of Labels & Self Identification‘ blog post), as it promotes the idea that individuals can’t be attracted to multiple genders.

In addition, people who are attracted to multiple genders, and choose not to label their sexuality  may be pressured into choosing a label that describes their sexuality, or they are dismissed entirely because they are ‘confused.’ This is then made worse if they are in straight passing relationship because they are ‘just looking for attention‘, or that they are ‘faking it.’ While being attracted to more than one gender ‘doesn’t make you confused’, being unsure about your sexuality is not a bad thing. It’s OK to be unsure of things, because figuring out your gender and / or sexuality is complicated, especially because you may find that it changes over time for a number of valid reasons. It’s also completely OK and valid not to label your gender and / or sexuality if that makes you happy. 

In terms of gender identity, society often makes the assumption that sexuality and gender are the same thing – for example, in terms of the Western idea of gender, we associate men who are more feminine to be gay, and women who are to more masculine to be lesbians (though I understand that people can fall into these stereotypes, and if that what makes you comfortable, then go ahead). Similarly, those who are presumed to conform to gender roles are perceived to be straight (but if you do conform to gender roles, and if this makes you happy, go ahead – just don’t harm anyone). As a result, people are often incorrectly labelled because of how society sees them – this means that we limit our gender expression to stereotypical norms. This is harmful for non-binary and gender non-conforming individuals. 

But overall, what’s the best way to solve this? I would argue that the best solution is to let people take their time to find a label that fits them, if they want to label themselves at all – the most important thing to let people figure themselves out, and whether or not that includes labels is 100% their choice. 

In Defense of Labels & Self Identification

*There are  links to some resources within this post, as well as my blog posts about ‘coming out‘, / what labels I currently use / links to other sources / my blog posts about certain flags. This is a very interesting topic, and please feel to leave your opinions in any comment box!* (Also bear in mind that this post will also be heavily one sided (meaning I’ll be arguing from one perspective as I could be here for hours analysing both sides – but I may do a post that talks about the disadvantages of labels). 

Labels and self identification -I’m interested in both these topics, as I like to see how people label themselves, and it can lead to some very interesting conversations, as everyone has a different output. I personally like using them – I’ve written a blog post about my current identity, and the idea of labels were the centre of both my Photography A – Level coursework and my short film project. I feel as though labels are useful, and have have definitely helped me form a sense of identity and community – they have also helped me make some of the best friends I have ever had, as I would of never met some of the friends I have now if I didn’t come out of the closet But I do get why some people might not like using labels – maybe some labels aren’t that important to them, or maybe they feel as though that there is too much of an emphasis on them. for example – and that’s OK – society, as a whole, and from a gender perspective for example, believes that it exists in a binary manner. But this isn’t the case – the fact is that gender, sexuality, romantic attraction etc exists on an ever fluid spectrum, and is definitely a lot more complicated than people assume it is. 

I like labels because they have given me a sense of community – because as  a member of the LGBTQ+ community, I am connected to millions of people just like me across the world – and this is probably the biggest achievement of social media and the internet. We are a community, and we have the queer power to make positive change in the world – with that in mind, we should respect what labels someone may choose to use for their gender and / or sexuality – no matter if we fully ‘get‘ what that label means. I also like labels for the simple reason that they give me a word for what I’m feeling – when I was questioning my sexuality and gender, Ash Hardell was a huge help with that sense of knowing – and because of that sense of how I identified in terms of both gender and sexuality, I could start to reach out and be proud of who I am. 

Additionally, labels can also help us to describe our gender and / or sexuality can help us find solidarity in a heteronormative / cisnormative world – but that doesn’t change the fact that society will treat you differently based on your sexual orientation. So the majority of media products cater to heterosexuality, because it is ‘the norm’ – this results in the ignoring of queer stories being told by the mainstream media. As a result, it can make you feel weird, isolated and unaccepted – and because we are so underrepresented, many LGBTQ+ people may feel obligated to discuss their coming out experiences. 

But I want to stress something –  this post is not trying to force you to use labels! If you don’t want to use labels, that’s fine – you do you! I just want say why I, as one person who identifies as many things, and like labels, thinks labels are super helpful. When discussing labels, a common response can often be – But why do labels matter? We’re all the same.” (Or something similar along those lines) – this can be understanding, and does come from a place of well – intending individuals. To this, I would argue that I feel as though labels are crucial because stand up and be proud – and the fact is, we’re not ‘all the same’ – and in the case of the LGBTQ+ community, we need to proudly declare our identities (especially if you have intersecting identities – e.g. if you’re a QPOC, or someone who is disabled / neurodivergent and LGBTQ+). Be active. Be heard. Be out – but coming out is a personal choice, and not everyone can is able to come out, for a variety of valid reason (e.g. by choice or because of an unsupportive environment).

However, here’s the thing – labels are important because they can be used as power. Labels aren’t the cause of inequality in the world – people are. The reason for this type of thinking is because we are socialised to think that our differences are the cause, but the fact is that oppression, and inequality, are systematic (meaning that the institutions that exist within society are coded in – so, for example, “Bathroom bills” passed in various states are an example of the systemic oppression of transgender people”). But labels can definitely be used as a form of oppression – so they can be both useful and harmful at the same time. 

Speaking of power dynamics, without labels we can’t have conversations about   privilege and power. For example, my life is drastically different to a heterosexuals because as a transmasculine nonbinary bisexual person, I may encounter queerphobia at some point in my lifetime, whereas a perceived straight person will not experience this. This is because labels may give us the power to have us to conversations around  these unfair power structures – so labels don’t cause inequality in themselves. 

Furthermore, it can be used to discuss perceived privilegeFor example, bisexual people (or any other sexuality that doesn’t fit the binary of gay and straight) are more likely to face hardships from both heterosexual and unfortunately, other individuals within the LGBTQ+ community. This is because there is unfortunate discourse within our community, and this is something I may write about at a later point. What this means is that bisexuals/ pansexuals, for example, erased in the media are often, or unjustly coded as ‘straight‘ or ‘gay‘ depending on what type of relationship they are perceived to be in (so, for example, a pansexual person will have perceived ‘straight privilege‘ if they are in a relationship with a man)  – but of course, I do agree that individuals are free to label themselves however they want. I just wanted to highlight the  bi/pan-erasure that bisexual / pansexual individuals face.  What this means is that I want to challenge, and hopefully change the way that bisexual are represented in the media, as well as the way that bisexuals are erased. 

In conclusion, I think labelling and self identification is an empowering and crucial thing to do because we need to have these talks about how power / privilege work – plus, labels just make me feel comfortable.