i like labels and i cannot lie

Warning: this post is bristling with identity politics.

Postmodernism eschews labels and I endorse them, but only on my own behalf. As far as your description etc goes, you define your own labels, or lack thereof, and I respect them. If you tell me you’re a teapot, then that is what you are (plus I’d be grateful for the tea). And imho that is just basic good manners and decency, nothing more.


My labels are human, woman, cis woman, queer, dyke, butch, bipolar, house owner, dog walker, bad swimmer, feminist, witty, clever, driver, clumsy, sister, cousin, friend, pervert, odd … the list could go on indefinitely and all of it is tied together by my name and nickname, and out here – my username. The way I look and walk and talk and think and everything else, those are all labels too. And sometimes labels wear out and peel off, and sometimes they are replaced by new ones.

Now, it is very (understandably) important to some people that other people get their labels – and by extension, their pronouns right. I get gendered and misgendered multiple times throughout the day and I don’t even correct it. I simply don’t give a damn whether I get called sir or whatever. However, all of that is easy for me to say, because I have no gender dysphoria or respect for the binary gender system. I’ve never had to fight for my true identity, or align my biology to it. I’m fortunate. I’m fluid about my labels in general; some things bugged me 3-4 decades ago, but that’s long forgotten now.

Labels applied by others can be deeply offensive and damaging. Again, most of mine stem from my gender and sexuality. And again, I am fortunate never to have needed to defend those things with my safety and/or life.

Things along the lines of …
What the fuck are you, male of female?
Faggoty assed bitch!
… have been hurled my way, oddly enough far more in the UK than SA – and I’ve been in SA for most of my life. What even is a faggoty ass? It sounds nice.

Those labels can be reclaimed or ignored. I was only ever worried once and that was by a crowd of English teenagers mouthing off at me about my gender.

You wanna use my labels to insult me?
Fuck off, why would I be insulted by my own labels? It’s your shit, not mine.
You wanna beat me up?
Even if you killed me, I’d still be a better human being than you.
You wanna throw insults at my tribe?
I’m standing here in plain sight using my voice, because if you fuck with them you fuck with me.
You wanna start a flame war?
I will never join you in that exercise in futility. May as well bypass a whole lot of ire and quote Godwin’s Law right now.
You wanna have a go at me because I have a disorder?
Blatant logic fail. I’m gonna have to go and startle your sheep now. Twat.

My clearest (and somehow most interactive) labels have clearly been the sex, gender and sexuality ones. And they’ve all sauntered through a progressive metamorphosis over the years. For example: undefined and sort of heterosexual, gay, lesbian, queer, butch. It reflects my gender performance from androgynous to blatantly masculine of centre. (The word dyke has been firmly with me from the start.)

Language = labels (in my mind). You know the lager with the label Carling Black Label? How do you recognise or order it without that label? How do you get the right treatment if you shun the label of a diagnosis? How do you get laid if you don’t either look queer or be open about the fact? (Heterosexuals please don’t be upset by your exclusion from that sentence. You’re an estimated 90% of the population, you don’t have the same issues in that respect.) Are some labels labels while other labels are not labels? If so, it’s woefully inaccurate use of words. Please explain the logic behind all this loathing of labels. Unless labels cause the possibility of your death, I do not understand it. Is it about the assumptions people make? Surely we should be a) getting over our insecurities about others’ opinions and b) being out, proud and loud in order to combat the bs?

By refusing to be labelled, you are automatically labelled “unlabelled”. There is no existence without the identification of the things in it. Language is labels. Write your own labels.


But it is possible that I am wrong about it.

Natasha Tracy says…

  • Specific illnesses, like bipolar disorder, have been recognized in patients for hundreds of years. They needed a way of recording that the same illnesses was being seen in different people.
  • Doctors need a way of speaking to each other, speaking to you and disseminating information.
  • Without that pesky “label” we wouldn’t know what to research or what treatments would work on that “symptom cluster.”
  • And, yes, doctors do have to bill insurance companies for something.

But more than all of that, being “labelled” bipolar can be positive and meaningful to the individual. So many people struggle for so many years with symptoms and have no idea why. Then, suddenly, when they are properly diagnosed, the label “bipolar” is a huge relief because then they know what is wrong and they can finally work to address it.



Published by


battlescarred, bright, bewildered, bent, blue & bipolar

22 thoughts on “i like labels and i cannot lie”

  1. I suppose labels have a place and a necessity. I just get tired of being stereotyped. ‘The crazy chick.” “The metalhead girl.” “The goth girl.” “The crazy cat lady.”
    I’m bipolar, I love heavy metal, I wear a lot of black, and yeah, I like cats more than people.
    I’m quite content being uncategorized. It gives me room to move, to grow, to become more diverse. I’m secure enough in my own interests that I know what I like, but if Amazon wants to give me some suggestions outside my pigeonhole..I’m open to that too.
    That’s why if I were to give myself a label and say have it tattooed on my forehead…I’d go with something like “eclectic.”
    That whole breathing room thing so I’m not stuck eating one flavor of ice cream for life. Because that’s what being labeled makes me feel like. Doomed to the same thing for the rest of my life.
    And that’s just me, everyone else is free to label away.
    I just wish the morons would wear warning labels, save me sooo much time.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I’m a raving nutter! Just kidding! I’m a teapot, dammit! A loony teapot!
    On a serious note, another awesome, thought-provoking post!
    And I love the name badge!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Nope! I am very happily labeled Schizo-Affective – Depressive Type. Bipolar was the wrong “label” to have been given to me from the beginning. Label me whatever you’d like, that’s on whoever says it, not me. I go by my own standards. Sounds like you do too!


    Liked by 1 person

  4. I should like to believe that I have the right to accept or reject labels and the right to change the labels I apply when I find one that suits better. I also have the right to decide if when and which labels I chose to share with others (and that comes back to the whole “queer” thing). I am now most inclined to define myself as queer as a political identity but it is not my sexual or gender identity. Confused yet? In other words, some information is on a need to know basis. Who needs to know and why? Do I want medical treatment or sex? Or do I want to sometimes disappear into the amorphous pool of cis-gendered white men? The white I can’t hide but the gender history and sexuality I can. So I need a whole roll of blank labels and a fresh marker please.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. This reminds me of the time when I dated an androgynous man (because I like pretty boys with long hair) and people around me began to question the “straightness” in my sexuality. It drives me bonkers that people are so preoccupied by other people’s labels when they, most often, don’t even know theirs.

    The incessant need I see — to hate, to hurt, to destroy what they don’t want to understand — has always baffled me. Why must people waste their breath / energy when time is so limited? Why must people be toxic about who others date and who they want to fuck or how they dress or what their gender is (or isn’t) or any other damn thing?

    You know what happens when I meet someone “different” or “out of the norm” or that “intrigues me?” I get to know them. I try to understand them. People, to me, are as fine as books in all their various covers and content.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Labels are ok, like you said they can peel off or fade or be replaced. I like words and having words for things, and what people decide to call you doesn’t change who you are. Boxes bother me, but in the end I have enough issues in my own brain to worry about what other people do with theirs.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I do believe this is the first time I’ve read a blog post with Sir Mix-A-Lot singing in the back of my head.

    Labels do have their uses–I know some people who hate for child’s particular disorder to be acknowledged (because ____ does not define the child), which I understand to an extent, buuuutttt it’s also hard to know how to accommodate the child if the disorder is taboo.

    Side note: “cis woman” had me heading to google.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Labels can be useful: eg, playing the “bipolar card” when I need medical help, or am dealing with a triggering situation. In other situations, such as applying for jobs, that label is a bit damned if you do, damned if you don’t. As in, if the application asks about disability, and I don’t mention it, and do get the job, then sooner or later the shit will probably hit the fan, and boom! I’m not just unwell, I’ve lied to my employer.

    On the other hand, with unemployment the way it is, if I do mention it on an application, odds are it’s going straight into the bin. Wrong? Of course. But – with some notable exceptions – I suspect it’s quite common.

    Off now to look up “cis”.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I am kind of an asshole because I love my labels until they get in the way. Female trombonist. Great until I meet a douche who talks down to women, pays me less, or tries to get in my pants on the gig. Bipolar. Or, Person with bipolar disorder. I feel quite strong with that “label,” until something totally unfair happens like not having $300 when I run out of Latuda. Cowgirl. Literally nothing will stop me with this new label. I wrangled three escaped horses yesterday with my bare hands. Anyway. I’m a label owner and the. turn around and whiner when it gets rough.

    For the record, sometimes I own dyke. I hope this doesn’t offend you. I have a pixie and a leather jacket and so many boots. And I go to strip clubs to support my stripper friend. So I dyke it up to make the creeps go away.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I had a girlfriend for about 8 years. I had all those “labels” and insults hurled at me. Shot back with, “No, I’m Shannon, how NICE to meet you!” and extended my hand. They weren’t expecting that one. I used to label myself as wife-HA that’s a riot now-mother, sister, daughter, granddaughter, niece, aunt, CNA and blah blah blah. Those defined me. My BP doesn’t define me, it just explains a PART of me. Now I label myself strong, courageous, fighter, bitch But most of all, I label myself Shannon-because that’s my name. <3

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m breaking my own no commenting on this post rule to say zomg what a gorgeously apt quote – that’s the happiest I’ve felt all day. Thanks j.


  11. Loved it.
    You may have heave heard I detest labels on me, and I openly admit it’s because I’m jealous, envious. I wish I could have labels on me, that I could identify with, that will make me feel part of something. That is why I have started the proper diagnosis route: I feel attaching a label to my bloody changeability will help me get the right treatment, do the right things. I am also the proud beginner of a new life where I accept the label of Italian and make it MINE. Italy always treated me like crap and sent me away multiple times, that is why I hated being called Italian. Now, I reclaim it, after all, it says on my blooming passport. So there!
    But seriously, the problem with labels is that the unlabelled are left out :(
    Sort of… can I join your party even if I’m not… whatever the party theme is?

    Liked by 1 person

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