That’s a nice alphabet you got there, it’d be a shame if something were to happen to it.
It is often said that fear stems from a lack of understanding, and in that light, I want to address LGBTQIA+ words and terms.
To start with I will go over the letters themselves, what they stand for, and what those terms actually mean. After that, I will go back to each of the umbrella terms, and then go into some of the terms that are used within that group, and then I will get into any terms left, that didn’t fit.
Before we start, there are a couple of points to be made…
Sex and gender are not the same thing.
There are many genders.
Trans people are the gender that they say they are.
Your disagreement is irrelevant.
Hopefully this will give you a better understanding of the queer community, and the language that we use.
Also, the initialism changes over time. I am addressing LGBTQIA+ as it’s the most common and widely recognised version, that I know, at time of writing.
L – Lesbian
I think everyone knows what a lesbian is, they’re the homosexuals that even homophobes like! A Lesbian is usually a woman who is attracted to other women, however there are also some non-binary people who identify as lesbians. This attraction can be romantic and/or sexual.
These are going to come up a few times, so for clarity:
- Romantic Attraction: Desires a deep, emotional connection and romantic relationship with someone. It’s about love and partnership, not necessarily involving sexual desire.
- Sexual Attraction: Desires physical or sexual intimacy with someone. It’s driven by physical desire and doesn’t necessarily involve romantic feelings.
G – Gay
Did you know that the term ‘gay’ isn’t just a word that people in the 90’s shouted at any idea they didn’t like‽ When I was little, I didn’t!
This term is now commonly used to just refer to men who have a romantic or sexual attraction to other men, but in its broader sense, it refers to people who have any non-heterosexual attractions. Because of this, it is a term that often gets argued about.
B – Bisexual
Here is when we start to get into one of the more misunderstood terms. “Bi means 2, so they’re attracted to men and women!” I hear me from not long enough ago shout!
Bisexual people are those who have a romantic and/or sexual attraction to more than one gender. There are other terms for this, and other terms that may appear to mean the same thing, but are different. Terms such as Pansexual (Oooo, it’s me again!) have an overlap, and are often conflated.
We’ll come back to Pansexuality later.
T – Transgender
Look, it’s me again! I didn’t realise how much I’d show up in this list.
Transgender refers to someone who identifies with a gender other than that they were assigned at birth.
This is an umbrella term that includes trans men, trans women, and non-binary people.
Unfortunately this is one of the most marginalised sections of the LGBTQIA+ community, even at times from within, as a lot of people do not understand it.
There is a LOT of science which demonstrates that trans people more closely resemble the gender that they identify as, as opposed to that which they were assigned at birth.
Trans people are valid, regardless of whether they have undergone any form of medical treatment.
Q – Queer
This is probably the widest umbrella term within the community. Anyone in the community can accurately use the term to describe themselves. Because of this, it is often used by people who don’t want a lengthy discussion, trying to explain themselves to other people.
It is still considered to be a slur, by some. However it was reclaimed by the community in the 80’s
Q – Questioning
Look, if you’ve come here needing to look this one up, I’m not sure how you’ve made it this far in life. Well done, I guess?
I – Intersex
Intersex is a term used to describe natural variations in human biology where a person’s reproductive or sexual anatomy doesn’t fit typical definitions of male or female. It’s like a unique blend of characteristics that doesn’t align strictly with the conventional categories of male or female.
A – Asexual (Ace)
Asexual people are those that do not experience sexual attraction. It does not mean that they don’t experience romantic attraction, so it is still common for Ace people to describe themselves with other terms such as gay, bi, etc. Being Ace also doesn’t mean that people can’t enjoy the act of sex.
A – Aromantic
Aro people are those that do not (or rarely) experience romantic attraction. Aros can still experience sexual attraction, and have relationships.
A – Agender
Agender people are those who do not identify as having a specific gender identity. This can present in a number of different ways, and some people who are Agender label as Non-binary.
A – Ally?
No. The A in the initialism does not stand for Ally. We very much appreciate our allies, but this is about the identities of people within the community. If you are an ally and you insist that the A includes Allies, then you aren’t being one.
+ – All the other fun stuff!
The plus is where we get into the minutiae. There is a whole load of subsections within each letter, and identities that aren’t included in those letters.
I will go through each letter first, and do my best to cover everything I can.
Butch Lesbians are women who present in a more typically ‘masculine’ way, who are attracted to other women.
Chapstick Lesbians are women who don’t present as overtly masculine or feminine, who are attracted to other women.
Lipstick Lesbians are women who present in a typically ‘feminine’ way, who are attracted to other women.
A Bear is a large, hairy, gay man.
An Otter is a thin, hairy, gay man.
A Twink is usually a thin, not hairy, gay man. They are often seen as submissive, nut this isn’t necessarily the case.
A Queen can refer to a Drag Queen, but can also sometimes be used to refer to a gay man who is very camp and/or flamboyant.
Bisexual and Pansexual are different, but they’re similar enough to include it here. In Bisexuality there can be attraction to people of any gender identity, but the gender can be an important aspect. In Pansexuality, gender plays no part in the attraction to somebody.
This is a label for somebody who was Assigned Female At Birth.
This is a label for somebody who was Assigned Male At Birth.
DemiGender (Demiboy/Demigirl) –
Demigender refers to somebody who ‘mostly’ identifies with a specific gender identity, but also identifies partly with another, or others.
Gender Fluid –
A Gender Fluid person is somebody whose gender identity changes over time. This can be frequently or infrequently.
Genderqueer is often used as another umbrella term. Often used by people who recognise that their gender identity isn’t what they were assigned at birth, but they don’t feel that they necessarily fit neatly into any of the other gender identities.
Non-Binary is a label for those who do not identify within the ‘traditional’ binary aspect of gender. This can mean many different things. Some Non-Binary people present or identify in a way that we would typically recognise as being androgynous, but it is important for us to realise that the ‘traditional’ 2 gender binary system is not a historical or universal constant. More about this can be found here.
Pangender refers to somebody who identifies with multiple different gender identities at the same time.
Third Gender –
Third Gender can mean a lot of different things, some of which are included in these other subcategories. For more information… click here
Trans Man –
A Trans man is a man who was assigned a different gender or sex at birth.
Trans Woman –
A Trans woman is a woman who was assigned a different gender or sex at birth.
Two Spirit –
Two Spirit is sometimes included in the wider initialism 2SLGBTQIA, and is a term that refers to a gender identity recognised by some Indigenous North American cultures. Due to the difference across those cultures, it is a difficult term to fully define in a respectful way, but it is often used as a type of third gender which is recognised and respected in a very ceremonial and spiritual way.
Demisexual refers to somebody who doesn’t feel Primary Sexual Attraction. This means that sexual attraction to somebody comes as a Secondary Attraction, often after developing an emotional bond or attraction.
Polyamorous people are those who do not hold to monogamy. They are people who are open to having multiple romantic relationships, as love is not a finite resource, and recognising that multiple people can provide different valuable things to a person.
Sapiosexuality refers to attraction based on somebody’s intelligence. This is a term that is often misused by people presenting a form of supposed intellectual elitism.
Autistic, queer, D&D devotee, pun peddler, meme dabbler, home-brew hero.
Downton Abbey Diogenes!