My daughter Sarah has a genetic syndrome. It is the first thing people notice and the most likely thing for people to ask about. It is not who she is.
When kids are learning, one of the first things they do is categorize. Colors and shapes. Good and bad. Animals and plants. Everything fits. They push against the boundaries to figure out exactly where the boundary is. Categories are useful. They help us navigate in this confusing world.
When we get a little older, the categories don't always work neatly, especially when it comes to people. Who are you? I am a woman. I am a writer. I am a mom. I am a Catholic. Each category gives a little insight. How many would you want if you were describing yourself?
Labels get a bad rap. No one likes to be labeled. Labels reduce you to a category. Even if you fit in a category, it isn't who you are. I am a woman. And if you think that is all you need to know to understand me, you are sexist. I am a Catholic, and if you think that is all you need to know, you are a bigot. My daughter has Apert syndrome.