By Mie Hald (She/Her)

It stings every time. It creates a deep-rooted irritation and is another dig in a hole that’s only getting deeper. “But can’t you just not have a label?” A simple question that is so incredibly loaded with ignorance and.

I’m tired of explaining myself.

We are surrounded by labels. In fact, our entire society is built on them, and it’s something we’re stuck with from birth. “Oh, little Sofie, are there any cute boys in the kindergarten?” and “No, Johannes, you can’t wear that, pink is a girl’s colour” are both indirect ways of imposing labels on children before they even understand it. It’s a normal part of society to assume that children are heterosexual, alloromantic, cisgender, and that these things can be expressed through colours or certain items of clothing.

So why does it become a problem when Sofie is 20 years old and explains that they are pansexual and genderfluid? Now Sofie can be the one to choose their labels, but suddenly they are met with “well, that’s complicated” or “that’s so limiting”, or, what I personally hate the most: “why do you have to put yourself in a box too?”

The answer is quite simple: If you feel the need to ask someone any of those questions, it’s most likely because you’ve never had to deal with them yourself. The labels you’ve been given by society have fit. Good for you – that’s not the case for everyone.

Labels can be complicated, I’ll be the first to admit. But it’s a thousand times harder to figure out which labels fit and reach out to others than it is to respect them as an outsider.

But for the record, let me answer the most frustrating question: “Why do you have to put yourself in a box?”

Alongside my writing for HeartCore, I’m a fiction writer, and I face the same question when it comes to genres. “Why should you limit yourself and put yourself in a box?” And I actually consider that an incredibly narrow worldview.

Because what is a box? Absolutely no one said that the box is deep with high walls and that you’re trapping yourself in it. Get away from that view – gender and sexuality can be fluid, and sometimes you have to try on multiple labels (“boxes”) before you find one that fits. Sometimes you never find one, and sometimes it changes constantly throughout your lifetime.

Instead, think of the box as if it were drawn with chalk. The lines aren’t rigid, the sides are two-dimensional and you can easily step in and out. So what’s so appealing about this box?

The answer is simple. It’s about community, identity and recognition.

When you’ve been told all your life that you have to be A or B, and therefore always felt left out, different or even ostracised because you don’t fit into the labels that were presented, you grow up feeling different.

It doesn’t take much empathy to understand how it feels when you suddenly discover group C, D or, well, Q. That there are other people who are like you, and that there is a word for what you are and feel like.

A label is just an adjective – a description we use to explain ourselves to others. You don’t have to understand the specific label, but it’s a way to get to know other people better. It’s their claim to freedom from the labels they’ve been forced to wear and their way of claiming their own identity.

So live with it.

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