Identity and Perspective

By , September 16, 2010 1:49 pm

Women Born Transsexual had a post a few weeks ago titled A Matter of Semantics: The Difference Between “Identifying as” and “Identifying with.” The post was prompted by a question seen on Facebook asking if readers identified as male, female, or transgender.

The post is interesting to me for a few reasons. First, Suzan begins by saying…

I’m an old fashioned lefty.  I’m not something because I identify as that thing.  Claiming to identify as without being seems to me to be an odd construct that doesn’t fall much in line with my existentialist line of thinking.

I am not a woman because I identify as a woman. I am a woman even though I was assigned male at birth because of having been born with something that the best term for still seems to be “transsexualism”.  I had sex reassignment surgery that made me female.

It’s an interesting question, to be sure. Perhaps the interesting question, when it comes to identity politics: when does someone become part of a certain group? (Race, religion, gender, ethnicity, whatever.) Is it a declarative process? “I identify as X, therefor I am X.” Or is it a tautological of identity? “I am X because I am X.”

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