I am more than the labels I don’t choose. There are some labels I’m fine with – Hufflepuff, asexual, autistic. I’m fine with this labels. They help me define who I am. They give me concrete terms to tell others about how I am. Terms to help me find people who are safe for me. These labels are like a security blanket, almost. They help me find what I need. Who I need. Get what I need. They help me explain things. For example, I can easily say “because I have anxiety, phone calls are difficult” and “because I’m autistic, eye contact is literally painful sometimes.” I like those labels.
There are also labels I, well, don’t like. I don’t like the labels society puts on me. High functioning. Low functioning (I guess there’s no medium functioning?). I’m not a steak, y’all. I’m not either rare or well done. I’m also not hot sauce. Why do I have to be mild or HOT HOT HOT? In many ways, I am on the lower end of so-called functioning. My IQ is crap because I can’t test well. I have dysgraphia and dyscalculia.
I don’t like being called handicapped or a person with a disability. I am disabled. I choose ID first language because while they don’t define me, they are so intertwined into who I am that without them, I would be a totally different person. I’m not a person apart from them. I’m a person who IS them.
When other people try to label me, it feels like they’re trying to define me. It feels like they are trying to make me fit into their cookie-cutter mold. It feels like they are trying to rip away my rights, my dignity, and my agency. It feels like they’re saying what I choose doesn’t matter, but their choice does. While this may not (always, but it sometimes is) their intent, it’s the way it feels to me. I don’t like being defined by other people that aren’t my friends.
Let me choose my own labels. When I tell you I don’t like them and to please don’t use them, please respect me enough as a human being to honor my wishes. Please respect me enough to use the labels I choose, not the ones you choose.