Society will always try to label you, to figure out what box you fit into and say, “This is who you are.” It’s easier to pretend we all fall into neat categories than to acknowledge that every person is unique. That’s why I refuse to play the name game and won’t call myself a registered sex offender.

How can you reduce an entire human being down to three words? Calling myself a registered sex offender, or any other label for that matter, wouldn’t do justice to the fullness of my personality. Expecting me to knock on door after door and describe myself in just those three words simply wouldn’t be honest, to myself or to my neighbors.

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I am not just a cog in some federal database, and I refuse to fit your stereotype.

How can you reduce an entire human being down to three words?

The most frustrating thing is when someone calls you a registered sex offender and then doesn’t understand why it’s offensive. It’s just so ingrained in our culture to judge a book by its cover and make assumptions about people before you even get to know them. Is it easier to just accept society’s labels? Yes. But that doesn’t mean I’m ready to do that.

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A lot of people want to know what they should call me if not a registered sex offender. How about calling me Steven Mullany? That’s my name.

So let’s drop the labels. Let’s not call people “coffee enthusiasts” or “book readers” or “sex offenders,” and let’s realize they are more than that. Words aren’t just air. They can have a real impact, even if you know they are an incomplete description of who you are. Ultimately, we all have to accept ourselves and whatever we’ve done in the past, regardless of the verbal sticks and stones people throw our way.

Nobody is just a “registered sex offender,” and the sooner society realizes that, the sooner we can make progress.

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