#DrewsViews: In Defense of Neo-Labels

by Drew Adams

Lately there has been a lot of discourse on social media about labels and who uses what words to describe themselves, their gender identities, and their sexualities, among other things. Basically, some people are trying to say that some labels that people chose to use are “fake” or “invalid” (to say the least). Some folks worry that using unconventional labels could make all queer labels look “stupid” or “fake.” Some people, however, do use some of the labels that are being targeted and deemed less valid than others. So where do we draw the line? Who is accepted and who isn’t?

My answer is that there shouldn’t be a line at all. The problem here is that there are people who don’t feel like any of the more common labels for sexuality or gender really fit them, so they are coming up with their own words to describe their queer or trans experience. This is a completely valid thing for people to do. Labels are a deeply personal thing that carry different meanings to everyone. Also, the label someone chooses for themself has nothing to with anyone but them, so it shouldn’t be a topic of argument. For example, before the word pansexual entered the queer english vernacular, someone had to experience pansexuality and realize that there wasn’t already a label for it, and then create one. The same goes for most labels in the queer and trans communities. The fact is, language has been evolving and changing, and people have been inventing words for new experiences, since the creation of communication itself. Any time someone experiences something for the first time, discovers something new, invents something, or does something that the English language doesn’t have a word for, we make up more words. That is, quite simply, how language works.

So if language is completely fluid and changes constantly, why are people trying to draw the line at different genders or sexualities when that is how the queer community has been built up for decades? It doesn’t matter why some people say things like that. What matters is that we all come together to stop it. The queer community has enough to deal with without fighting each other on something so trivial as what people call themselves. Stop gatekeeping and start loving and accepting everyone, no matter how they identify or label themselves.

About the Author:

Drew Adams is a transgender high school senior from Ponte Vedra, FL, who is committed to LGBTQ advocacy at the local and national levels. He serves as his high school GSA’s president and raises money for Northeast Florida’s LGBTQ youth outreach, JASMYN, to which he also donates food, toiletries and school supplies. Nationally, Drew serves as a youth ambassador and advocacy volunteer for The Trevor Project, a youth social media ambassador for the Matthew Shepard Foundation, and a Volunteer and Intern Coordinator for Point of Pride. On the legislative side, Drew lobbies for the Equality Act by visiting with his Congressional representatives and their staff.

Additionally, Drew has spent years fighting to change his school district’s bathroom policy to be trans-inclusive, and the fight is still ongoing. Drew is an International Baccalaureate student and a volunteer at the Mayo Clinic, and he hopes to go to medical school and become an adolescent psychiatrist specializing in transgender health. For fun, he practices Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, creates sculpture art and plays the piano.