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Labels Shmabels. There Are More Than 50 shades of Gray.
Nikki Noce, MD

Labels place us in neat, constricting boxes—Black, White, Christian, Hindu, Gay, Straight, Married, Single, Male, Female, Womanizer, Romantic, blah, blah, and so the labels continue on. But there are more than 50 shades of gray, and in reality everything is a spectrum. Did you know that white light is really all the colors of the rainbow? If natural elements exist in more than one form and are constantly evolving with time, how can we not expect the same for people? 




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During any Gay Pride celebration around the world, provocative questions about identity surface. The idea of checking a box of gay, straight, bi, etc. seems kind of funny because sexuality is a spectrum as well—there are “the exceptions,” “that one time,” and even "experimentation." Katy Perry even wrote a song about kissing a girl and liking it, and it became a #1 hit, so obviously people resonated with it. Back in the Greek and Roman days all of the highly revered male scholars with families kept young boys as their muses. Unfortunately, people are still persecuted when it comes to who they love—as if there is a choice in the matter. Even in progressive cities like New York or San Francisco, labels still exist.

In medical school I learned about babies born expressing both male and female sex traits— large clitorises resembling small penises, and a male blood test despite a female baby appearing. As per the Intersex Society of North America, the statistics reveal that about 1 in every 1500 births result in a consult with a specialist in sex differentiation because of ambiguity about the sex of the baby. Yes, hermaphrodites really do exist. This can happen in a variety of ways due to chromosomal make-up, the hormonal milieu of the mother’s womb, and genetic conditions.

Just this week a friend was telling me about an intersex person in her life. In the recent past, the parents decided the sex of the child in infancy so that there would be no confusion for the child while growing up. “Confusion for the child or the parents?” is what came to mind when I learned about this. Usually female is chosen because hormone replacement and reconstructive surgeries are “easier” to produce the “desired” results. And that’s exactly was happened to this person. The thing is, how are the parents supposed know which sex the child is going to grow up to feel in his/her heart? No amount of hormones and surgery can change who we are in our deepest essence. And that’s exactly what happened to this person— raised female to only decide in adulthood to get a mastectomy and live life as a male. Even today, he doesn’t 100% resonate with the male label despite having a girlfriend and appearing male.

Psychological studies show that when we label our children, they are likely to fill that role—the smart one, the athlete, the bad one, etc. Labels become restricting and self-fulfilling prophecies. The majority of the time the words don’t mean the same thing to different people—a romantic could be a positive thing to one person, and yet a negative thing to another. So when you choose to describe yourself to someone using words, you may in fact be doing yourself a disservice. It’s interesting how when we meet people, no matter the words uttered, it’s actually time and actions that will reveal who they truly are.

Even trying to think of several words to define myself I come up with some oxymorons and unconventional phrases. I guess I’ll say I’m human in this lifetime looking to live life from a place of truth—from my heart—while supporting others in doing the same. Why not just allow people to blossom at their own natural rhythm and just support them with love unconditionally? Who cares what others do, and how anyone chooses to live life? Why not choose to live along your spectrum, as I'll live along mine—because who cares what other people think? To me, the most important things in life are love and happiness. It’s up to us to find our own oasis, and when we do, the right people find their way to us.  So I say boycott the labels and do what makes you happy, because yes, I’m unconventional in every aspect of my life, and yes, I cuddle with my girlfriends in the park, and I admit I go into the Men’s bathroom when the Women’s line is too long. :)


Copyrighted. Nikki Noce, MD.  All rights reserved.


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