Labels and Why They Matter

The first is obvious: every identity comes with labels, so understanding identities requires first that you have some idea about how to apply them…. the second thing identities share: they matter to people. – Kwame Anthony Appiah

I have a trans woman friend who has helped me realize the complexity of identity.

At first, I thought of identity as a personal or psychological construct. By construct, I mean “an idea or theory containing various conceptual elements, typically one considered to be subjective and not based on empirical evidence” (OED).

But this is too simple. Personal identity is constructed within a context. The context is important for shaping, defining, and confining personal identity.

So identity is an interdependent interaction of social roles and ideas with our own personal and psychological construct.

Labels are part of the defining and confining element.

Published by

Jay N. Forrest

Zen Humanist Teacher.