This is something that is beginning to evoke an almost physical response in me: “People who identify as…”
I see it a lot in discussions about gender when people say “people who identify as a different gender to the one they were assigned at birth”. I have also seen it when people say “people who identify as autistic”. I have seen numerous variations of this when people talk about members of minority groups.
It makes me feel uncomfortable, and (more recently) has made me feel like I want to throw something.
I don’t identify as non-binary.
I am an enby.
I don’t identify as autistic.
I am Autistic.
To drive this point home, being white means that I am not a member of a minority group with regards to race, but I don’t say that I identify as white because I am white.
To me, it feels a lot like people outside of various minority groups are using “identify as” to diminish important parts of people’s identities. It makes it sound like a choice to be a member of a minority group when it is not a choice.
When that happens, then people can pretend that the systematic oppression doesn’t really exist. They can pretend that people are choosing to be oppressed, and by pretending that, they shift the responsibility off of themselves to change anything that they’re doing as people who hold privilege.
That is blatantly untrue. No one would choose to be oppressed, just as no one chooses to be a victim or survivor. These are things that people experience, not by choice, and they are valid.
I’ve had a saying about myself for a long time, and I’m unsure of whether I copied it off someone, or whether I thought it up on my own (google seems to think I made it up, but if anyone else finds a source, please let me know):
“I am the sum of all my experiences – good, bad and everything in between.”
And, more recently, I’ve been thinking about that, and I think I can change it to:
“I am the sum of all parts of my identity.”
The first two words of that are key: I am.
I don’t identify as. I am.
This post has been translated into Russian. You can access the translation here.