Labels can be a helpful shorthand: signs that tell us a lot in a glance, or a few words. The blue sign with the human figure(s) tells which door leads to the washroom. The label on the back of the food package tells whether there are ingredients that will make the people in my house who have allergies sick. Reducing embarrassment and staying healthy are two things made easier by labels.
When it comes to people, labels are less helpful. Every person is more than the labels attached to them: doctor, parent, addict, lawyer, custodian, homeless, prostitute. Every group of people is more complex and diverse than the labels attached to them: conservatives, liberals, Muslims, scientists, Mexicans.
Unlike signs and food packaging, when it comes to humans, labels obscure more than they reveal.
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