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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Sexual Identity » Labels across the pound and elsewhere

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Author Topic: Labels across the pound and elsewhere
Member # 15888

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I've noticed there are are many differences in the lables people use in America, Canada, England, and other english speaking countries. Indeed sometimes the differences are even regional! For instance, in one post Miz Scarlet says that she does not like the term "gays", yet I know homosexuals who would not find that offensive.

I personally find the terms queer and dyke offensive. Althought it appears that in England these are acceptable? Definitely queer, as I have found it in plenty of resources. In fact, in England, my own sexual/gender identity (that of a MTF) is considered under the umbrella of queer.

I'm curious to see what everyone's take is on these differences. Should we in the English speaking GLBT community try to standardize our terminology so we don't have issues arising from who is insulting who accidentally? I only bring this up because why should one thing be a "no-no" if another is not, when someone else in the conversation (such as me in a conversation with English folks) would consider a different term to be a "no-no"?

It just seems a bit stupid to have these differences, especially when they impair our ability to effectively communicate about the issues important to us.

Posts: 50 | From: Austin, TX, USA | Registered: Dec 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
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Interesting questions.

I think though, one has to consider that there are really two different issues at hand here: namely, how we self-identify, and how others identify us.

In other words, I DO identify as a dyke, though in my mind, the term "dyke" isn't exclusively about sexual orientation, it's also about politics. I also identify as queer.

However, given context and connotation, I may or may NOT be comfortable with someone who isn't queer identifying ME as queer or as a dyke.

But ultimately, I think it's most effective to simply accept that identifiers are very personal and individual. So, in the context of conversation with others -- straight and GLBT alike -- it's not that diffuclt to say "Hey, I prefer to identify as X, Y or Z, rather than as O." And that kind of simple exchange isn't exclusive to the GLBT community. It comes up in the context of gender, race, social strata, nationalities, jobs, the works.

I suppose I just don't think it's anything all that major or impassable. Language is, as a whole, often very subjective and very fluid; if language and nothing else keeps people from being able to deal with issues or create community, changes are there are far bigger obstacles than mere terms.

Posts: 68290 | From: An island near Seattle | Registered: May 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Member # 16446

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I usually don't worry about what other people call me unless it's blatantly obvious they are doing it to upset me. I told a good friend about my transsexuality, and she asked "are you a dyke?" It was a serious question, badly worded, but she wasn't trying to upset me, it's just the way it came out. So no stress there. On the other hand, somebody else got wind of it and said "I always knew you were a dyke!" which is a different thing.

It's especially funny (in the non-ha-ha sense of the word) because I date guys, not girls. Which is the self-identity thing, I identify as a trannyfag (mostly to people who actually know what it means).

Also, in most situations I've been in, MTF and FTM are under the "queer" umbrella.

Posts: 7 | From: Oshkosh, WI, USA | Registered: Jan 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Member # 16531

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It's a very interesting question... my native language is French and so I walked into English terminology for the GLBT community having no background information. I'm still not sure what I label myself, I just know some terms sound offensive to me, for example "dyke" because the way it sounds is unpleasant to me, and maybe I associate it with disrespectful attitude, too. That word just doesn't do it at all for me - but I've read more and more people identifying themselves as dykes, so I assume it's not that offending in itself.

One of the things that I find the most confusing - and greatest - about the GLBT community. We're always blurring lines and putting more emphasis on the individual - and how each of us defines him/herself - than on general terms, in that case.

Hope that made some sense


Posts: 7 | From: Andover, MA , USA or France | Registered: Jan 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Member # 16772

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I've noticed that too, although I don't know what we might do about it.

Where I live, calling someone a dyke probably would be an insult. Certainly not something you'd choose to identify. I was definitely offended when one of my friends asked me if someone we knew was a dyke.

As far as people in my area, queer isn't usually something you'd identify as, either, although it's not an insult. People think of it as a bigger umbrella term-- they'd probably expect you to be more specific and it might be kind of an odd choice of words.

On the other hand, the GSA at my school is so activism-oriented... We're not much of a support or discussion group at all, you go to QYC for that. So, ironically, we actually have kind of a "don't ask, don't tell" policy. Except for a couple of people, we usually don't know each other's orientation because it just doesn't come up, so it's hard to tell how different people identify.

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