As a PhD, you can think of research as one of your many useful skills, but it is not necessarily your primary identity.
One of the brow-furrowing moments for me when I read articles on doctoral education or participate in panels is when the idea that “PhDs are researchers” comes up. It’s common for commenters to refer to PhDs in this way.
This is often an intentional move, one that pushes the conversation forward from the limiting notion as PhD as protoprofessors.
In that way, it’s a welcome intervention. The idea is to help doctoral graduates see how their skills and experiences have broader relevance and value. In the U.K. and Europe, “early-career researcher” and “early-stage researcher,” respectively, are used to refer to individuals currently undergoing doctoral studies and/or within the first few years of obtaining the degree. If you think of a PhD as a “research degree” this of course makes perfect sense.
If thinking of yourself as a researcher frees up your imagination and helps you move toward a fulfilling career, then by all means embrace the term. But if it leaves you as cold as it does me, I’m giving you permission to jettison it.