Recently, I had a conversation with my bonus daughter who also happens to be double degreed in social work. Per the norm, the topics discussed were those we are both passionate about, but the topic that has stuck in my mind due in part to recent social media posts, is about labels and conformity. Not labels like on the food we buy, rather labels that are placed on people, their behaviors and identities.
Labels serve a purpose otherwise we wouldn’t use them, but of what use are they to us in our daily lives? On food labels we are provided the identified food substance, it’s supposed percentage of this nutrient and that mineral, fat content and the like. The labels we give ourselves and others are not quite as useful as food labels. Should we walk around with labels on our person that signify whether we are white, black, brown, yellow or purple? No, it’s unnecessary and our color is truly irrelevant – at least in my mind.
Should we place labels on our person that tell others in our vicinity that we are married, single, divorced, separated, monogamous, polygamous or some variation of those specific terms? How about our income level, IQ, education, mental health status or employment status; should we post that information for all to see? Again, I argue that it’s not required information for the general public to know. Would we be judged based on that information should it be made readily available? Absolutely we would be judged! Humanity has preconceived ideas about what specific segments of society should look and behave like, and therefore if those labels stated above, to name a few, were readily available to any and all who wished to see, judgment would occur.
Okay, let’s get to the heart of the matter and the labels that are bothersome for a vast majority right now: lesbian, bisexual, queer, homosexual, gay, transexual, pansexual, asexual, non-binary…. This morning, I saw pieces of a video where a person with medical experience refuted the idea that one could be born gender female but have a male gender identity. She said something to the effect that it represents a mental illness that should be treated in the same way as psychiatric illnesses.
Here’s my problem, we do not yet know all there is to know about the way in which the human brain functions, and we’re finding out more and more information about those functions that were not known previously. It used to be thought that if the corpus callosum (the membrane that separates the left side of our brain from the right) was severed, one would no longer have access to those traits generally attributed to the non-dominant side of our brain. This was found to be false, in fact. Another interesting facet of the brain is that when forced to do so it will literally rewire itself in order to circumvent an injured portion. What does this have to do with the subject of the aforementioned labels? Great question, thanks for asking!
It has a lot to do with the labels we are currently finding necessary to prejudge, segment and segregate our population with. Yes, I said it. We are segregating, subjugating and creating more of a mess than is necessary simply because we find it necessary to not only shun what we don’t understand (the human brain), but also to label everything for the purpose of creating clarity within our society. Labels, as my beautiful bonus daughter pointed out, are necessary right now because it affords those groups protection from the ignorant (hopefully) and grants access to programs that would otherwise be unavailable to them by virtue of their specific label. Ugh! It’s a circle my friends!
Why do we insist on making others feel badly about who they are in order to make ourselves feel better? Does it matter to your life if your neighbor believes themselves to be female though their body looks male? Why do you care? Aren’t they first and foremost simply a human being? They bleed the same color as you. Feel the same pain as you. Why does it matter if you agree with them or not? Is it necessary for us all to agree with this concept of being transgender? I think not. Who am I to tell someone that they do not believe, do not feel, do not think or should not believe, feel or think they are the gender they present to the public? Who are you to decide?
I say, live and let live. If their way of life is not to your choosing that’s cool. Nobody is asking you to live the way they do. Nobody is asking for permission to feel a certain way. Do you honestly believe in your heart of hearts that the majority of the people with these labels would CHOOSE to be ostracized, criticized and possibly threatened on a daily basis if there was a choice? Wouldn’t it be so much easier to simply conform to what society wishes of them? I’m going to answer my own question for you. Absolutely it would be easier to conform!
Ah, but why did the original colonies flee Europe so long ago? They fled so that they could be free and would not have to conform! I feel compelled to also say to those of you who want to throw the concepts of Western religion into the mix that until you personally speak to God and he tells you his opinion of all this, it is not our place as fallible human beings to judge.
Finally, allow me to throw a statistic into this topic for you. 41% of transgender identified people try to kill themselves at some point in their lives, compared with 4.6% of the general public. The numbers come from a study by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and the Williams Institute. I won’t even start on the suicide statistics for any of the other labels we insist on giving other human beings. The data is all there on the wonderful world wide web.
Are we all meant to conform to one ideal? I surely hope not!
Until next time my friends