I’ve had labels tossed at me; I was lucky in that I was able to “Teflon” to them so that they didn’t stick from about the 4th grade onwards (it was the day I realized that *every* boy was called “gay” or “a girl” at least once in that time; it wasn’t exclusively me at all; which made it completely meaningless. Just the same, I remembering reciting “sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me” on my walk home from school until the labels designed to box me in or cause me pain, didn’t. A few words still ‘get me’ but I work on them (internally) immediately to try to eliminate their future impact.
I learned to say at a young age, “And what if I was?” which always threw the bullies for a loop. (often girls, who liked to taunt an individual boy in their groups of 3); they learned the cruelty of words early, but sometimes it was boys.
I applied it to everything; sometimes allowing rumors to spread about me; Nowadays, I would be more like to say, “I could be. I can see how you might think that. But, the fact is, I’m not.” and that works 100%.
It’s sensitized me to the labeling of others; I try very hard not to group people; even people who *want* to be grouped, I try to see them as individuals first; individuals who choose a worldview or ideology that they like (or don’t but feel it fits); but not necessarily a member of “label”. I don’t, in the end, believe there *is* such a thing as groups; just alliances of individuals under a common name. but that name might have a different meaning to each individual.
Accepting the times that I am judgemental is tough; because part of my ideology is to be non-judgemental; but it still sometimes remains; and I fight it within myself as much as I can.