Ripping the Tag Off

Labels are quickly becoming a thing of the past. Young people across the globe are deeming that labels are no longer necessary. Ironically, this is happening at a time when there are more labels than ever.


Labels are commonly used when it comes to gender and sexual orientation, which people tend to confuse. LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) has been used since the 1990s. Now, the acronym has been revamped to be more inclusive. While often referred to as LGBTQ+, the full acronym is LGBTQQIP2SAA, standing for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex, pansexual, 2-spirited, asexual and allies.


People identifying as any of these labels have struggled for years to gain acceptance amongst their peers. While these labels are gradually becoming more accepted throughout millennial generations, disapproval and insensitivity can still be found all over the nation.


Renae Tremblay is a male-to-female transgender from Fort Covington, a small town in northern New York. In the 2010 census, the town had a population of 1,676.


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Renae Tremblay in February 2018. Photo by Renae Tremblay.


Q: What difficulties did you experience when coming out to people from your hometown?


RT: I started my transition when I was 15 years old. During early teen years, it’s already very awkward growing up and molding into an individual. Learning how to fit in and how the world works is tough enough, let alone having everyone around you watch your transition. I’ve lost a lot of relationships with people because of this.

In the beginning it was very difficult, only because the misconceptions of what most people think the word “transgender” means. People assumed I just wanted to dress up and pretend to be a female. I still joke about it to this day. I wish it was that simple that I just “wanted” to or I just “pretend.” The reality is, I’m just a woman who has to go through this journey. I don’t want to wear the label “transgender,” but I feel like people just need to be given the right understanding for it.


Q: How did that experience differ from when you came out to people elsewhere?


RT: About 2 years into my transition, it just became natural. When I moved 300 miles from home to attend college, I just blended in with everyone else. I mentioned it to my friends three months into the friendship and they had no idea.

Another thing a lot of people assume is that transitioning is just a stunt for attention, when in reality, I just want it to go unnoticed.


Q: Do you have any difficulty facing the locals now?


RT: Now, years after my transition, people have shown their admiration for my “courage” and “bravery,” when I just see it as becoming myself, more comfortable. People shouldn’t need praise for just being themselves. It’s unfortunate that it’s the world we live in now. I have luckily never been confronted aggressively by anyone.


However, that isn’t the case for every transgender woman. Throughout the years I’ve read so many articles and seen so many news broadcasts of transgender women being mindlessly murdered just for existing. I don’t normally let the fear of it get to me.


Q: Do you think over time labels will continue to decrease in popularity?


RT: In time I think these labels will be normal and no longer controversial. I hope that people will realize trans people are like everyone else, we just have different struggles and walks of life.


Tremblay’s hopes may not be too far away. The Millennial Age recognizes that we no longer have to fit in a box. We don’t have to check one item on the list. Don’t want a label? Don’t use one.


Rip the tag off, it’s kind of itchy anyway.


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