Sexuality, among other things, is an individual choice. It is the portrayal of our sexual attractions and inclinations. It is in this limelight, we should understand the many diversity the LGBTQIA+ community portrays and welcomes in her fold. An understanding of these diversity will clear a lot of doubts cast on those who identify themselves as one thing or another and hopefully, lift off a lot of the biases.
What the letters in LGBTQIA+ stands for
The LGBTQIA+, in modern parlance, is an umbrella body that welcomes sexual minorities or people who do not fit into the widely accepted gender roles and classification. It is also a term for a broad spectrum of sexual expressions which keep increasing every day. So what do the letters represent? Let us dive right in.
L stands for Lesbian: woman attracted towards a woman
G stands for Gay: man attracted towards a man
B stands for Bisexual: person attracted towards both men and women
T stands for Transgender: person who lives as a member of a gender other than that expected based on sex or gender assigned at birth
I stands for Intersex: Person both with a combination of male and female biological characteristics
Q stands for Questioning: person exploring their gender identity and sexual orientation
C stands for Curious: person who doesn’t identify as bisexual but is just curious towards both men and women
A stands for Asexual: person who does not experience sexual attraction
P stands for Pansexual: person attracted towards members of all gender identities and expressions
G stands for Gender Nonconforming: person who either by nature or by choice does not conform to gender-based expectations of society
G stands for Gender-Fluid: person who does not identify themselves as having a fixed gender
N stands for Non-Binary: person who does not identify as either man or woman (third gender)
A stands for Androgynous: gender expression with elements of both masculinity and femininity
Identifying the many gender identities around us
Gender identities are the different expressions of sexuality in relations with being male or female. What a person’s sex is and their gender are two different things. Sex is the biologically assigned identity given at birth to a person based on their sexual organs or genitalia. Gender is the culturally accepted roles and behaviours attributed to males and females. Gender identity is the feeling of maleness, femaleness or anything in-between felt by a person, not minding the gender they must have been assigned at birth. Here is a long list of these gender identities.
- Cis Female
- Cis Male
- Cis Man
- Cis Woman
- Cisgender Female
- Cisgender Male
- Cisgender Man
- Cisgender Woman
- Female to Male
- Gender Fluid
- Gender Nonconforming
- Gender Questioning
- Gender Variant
- Male to Female
- Transgender Female
- Transgender Male
- Transgender Man
- Transgender Person
- Transgender Woman
- Transsexual Female
- Transsexual Male
- Transsexual Man
- Transsexual Person
- Transsexual Woman
These are the gender identities as noted by ABC news.
The terminology of the LGBTQIA+ community
Just as in other spheres of life, there are different terms associated with the LGBTQIA+ community. This is very important as a way by which members of the community express different aspects of themselves.
- Ally– Someone who confronts heterosexism, homophobia, biphobia,
transphobia, heterosexual and genderstraight privilege in themselves and others; has a concern for the well-being of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and intersex people; and a belief that heterosexism, homophobia, biphobia and transphobia are social justice issues.
- Androgynous – Identifying and/or presenting as neither distinguishably masculine nor feminine.
- Asexual – The lack of a sexual attraction or desire for other people.
- Biphobia – Prejudice, fear or hatred directed toward bisexual people.
- Bisexual– A person emotionally, physically, and/or sexually attracted to males/men and females/women. This attraction does not have to be equally split between genders and there may be a preference for one gender over others.
- Coming Out– May refer to the process by which one accepts one’s own sexuality, gender identity, or status as an intersexed person (to “come out” to oneself). May also refer to the process by which one shares one’s sexuality, gender identity, or intersexed status with others (to “come out” to friends, etc.). This can be a continual, life-long process for homosexual, bisexual, transgendered, and intersexed individuals.
- Term used in some cultural settings to represent males who are attracted to males in a romantic, erotic and/or emotional sense. Not all men who engage in “homosexual behavior” identify as gay, and as such this label should be used with caution.
- Term used to refer to the LGBTQIA+ community as a whole, or as an individual identity label for anyone who does not identify as heterosexual.
- Gender Identity– A person’s sense of being masculine, feminine, or other gendered.
- Lesbian– Term used to describe female-identified people attracted romantically, erotically, and/or emotionally to other female-identified people. The term lesbian is derived from the name of the Greek island of Lesbos and as such is sometimes considered a Eurocentric category that does not necessarily represent the identities of African-Americans and other non-European ethnic groups. This being said, individual female-identified people from diverse ethnic groups, including African-Americans, embrace the term ‘lesbian’ as an identity label.
- LGBTQIA+– A common abbreviation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Pansexual, Transgender, Genderqueer, Queer, Intersexed, Agender, Asexual, and Ally community.
- An umbrella term which embraces a matrix of sexual preferences, orientations, and habits of the not-exclusively- heterosexual-and-monogamous majority. Queer includes lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transpeople, intersex persons, the radical sex communities, and many other sexually transgressive (underworld) explorers.
- This term is sometimes used as a sexual orientation
label instead of ‘bisexual’ as a way of acknowledging that there are more than two genders to be attracted to, or as a way of stating a non-heterosexual orientation without having to state who they are attracted to.
- A reclaimed word that was formerly used solely as a slur but that has been semantically overturned by members of the maligned group, who use it as a term of defiant pride. ‘Queer’ is an example of a word undergoing this process. For decades ‘queer’ was used solely as a derogatory adjective for gays and lesbians, but in the 1980s the term began to be used by gay and lesbian activists as a term of self-identification. Eventually, it came to be used as an umbrella term that included gay men, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgendered people. Nevertheless, a sizable percentage of people to whom this term might apply still hold ‘queer’ to be a hateful insult, and its use by heterosexuals is often considered offensive. Similarly, other reclaimed words are usually offensive to the in-group when used by outsiders, so extreme caution must be taken concerning their use when one is not a member of the group.
- Sex – A medical term designating a certain combination of gonads, chromosomes, external gender organs, secondary sex characteristics and hormonal balances. Because usually subdivided into ‘male’ and ‘female’, this category does not recognize the existence of intersexed bodies.
- Sex Identity– How a person identifies physically: female, male, in between, beyond, or neither.
- Sexual Orientation– The desire for intimate emotional and/or sexual
relationships with people of the same gender/sex, another gender/sex, or multiple genders/sexes.
- Trans– An abbreviation that is sometimes used to refer to a gender variant person. This use allows a person to state a gender variant identity without having to disclose hormonal or surgical status/intentions. This term is sometimes used to refer to the gender variant community as a whole.
- Transgender– A person who lives as a member of a gender other than that expected based on anatomical sex. Sexual orientation varies and is not dependent on gender identity.
- Ze / Hir– Alternate pronouns that are gender neutral and preferred by some gender variant persons. Pronounced /zee/ and /here/ they replace “he”/”she” and “his”/”hers” respectively. Other gender neutral pronouns include They/Them/Their.
What then shall you do with the information you have gotten?
The human person is an entity possessing rights and privileges. Each person has the rights to aspire to freedom of expression and the search for happiness. One of the fundamental principles of human rights is that anyone can be anything they want so far they do not disrupt the peaceful existence of the other. The acceptance of the other person, not minding what they identify as their gender, is a human right in itself. This doesn’t mean that one has to agree entirely with the other person’s opinion but that other peoples’ opinions and feelings, in this regard, about their gender should be respected. They should be given equal opportunities as others. This is the foundation of human rights.