Self Identity

In a previous post about the keyword “Gender Identity,” it described as “A persons sense, and subjective experience, of their own gender.”  This is a pretty good way of putting it, only I feel that self-identity looks at things as a whole. I believe that “who you are” is decided by yourself  and ignores any labels or any terms. A certain term may perfectly describe someone but if they don’t “identify” with it then does it still apply? I think it’s totally up to the person and I’m going to examine  couple of the readings from the class that stood at out to me.

The first reading I’m going to look at is Valentine’s “I Know What I Am.” The very first sentence gives a wonderful example, “I am a woman of trans…transAfrican experience!” The first thing I’m going to point out is that she is not only talking about her gender identity as trans but also her race as well. This is were I see the difference between gender identity and self identity. I believe that not only is her gender identity is important to her but her race as well.  So as a whole you could say that she self identifies as a transAfrican. In the same paragraph there is the quote by Valentine “Nora has a similar history to those in the room- person of color, a former sex worker, and HIV positive- they do not say the same kinds of things about themselves.” This is another important point because since they are similar to Nora are they also transAfrican? I think only if they self identified as transAfrican then they should be considered as such. What if they don’t strongly identify with being African? This is why self identity ignores terms and labels because they are decided by yourself and what you strongly identify with.

There is also later in the reading the quote when Valentine was talking to two sex workers and one of them says “You can call her what you want , but I’ll call her a man.” However, this comment didn’t offend the other sex worker it was directed at. Is it a crime to identify as a man and a woman? The reading said the description of them as men didn’t offend them. Let’s say they were comfortable being identified as both, I don’t think that would be a problem. If that’s what they identify with then it’s perfectly fine. It’s only a problem when trying to define a term but it’s really hard to define “self identity” since it’s decided by a single person.

The next reading I just want to touch on a bit is Cortez’s “Sextile.” There’s the quote “…But do NOT call me gay. I never had gay sex. Never will. I’m always the girl, he’s always the man. Even when I’m fucking him.” Adela had a lot of sex throughout the story with many men but never once considered herself as gay. Through what I think a “common” definition you would could say she is gay and has gay sex, however, she doesn’t identify with being gay so those labels and terms don’t apply to her. A few pages later she is stamped “Illegible for service: Homosexual.” One person labels her as gay but she doesn’t identify with being gay so who wins out?  I believe in the end it’s the person that decides their identity for themselves and not anyone else.

That’s only just a couple of examples but I felt that those readings are very strong when trying to understand self-identity. Self-identity was a challenging concept at first, because I had the wrong mindset about it. I was too busy trying to find a single definition for it but it’s actually really easy to understand. It’s about respecting a person’s self identity and not trying to apply to other people since y’know, everyone’s different.

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