What does LGBTQ really mean?

The LGBTQIA+ label can be confusing for some.  Here’s what that alphabet soup means!

L = Lesbian

G = Gay

B = Bisexual

T = Transgender

Q = Queer or Questioning

I = Intersex

A = Asexual

Here are some ways to think about these terms:

Lesbian: A woman who has significant attraction primarily to members of the same gender, or who identifies as a member of the lesbian community.

Gay: One who has significant sexual attractions primarily to members of the same gender or sex, or who identifies as a member of the gay community. Typically associated with men.

Bisexual: The potential to be sexually attracted to people of more than one sex and/or gender, not necessarily at the same time, not necessarily in the same way, and not necessarily to the same degree.

Transgender: Umbrella term for those whose gender expression or identity is not congruent with the sex assigned at birth and/or whose gender is not validated by the dominant culture.

Queer: Reclaimed derogatory slang by many who reject gender and sexual binaries. Also used as a political identity by many who want to dismantle oppressive systems in society.

Intersex: A general term used for a variety of bodies in which a person is born with reproductive or sexual anatomy that does not fit into the sex binary.

Asexual: Umbrella term for those to tend not to have a sexual desire towards others; asexuals may experience romantic attractions and engage in sexual behavior.

Non-binary: “Non-binary” is generally used as an umbrella for various gender nonconforming identities, and is most often used by those who do not strictly identify as “male” and “female.”

Pansexual: One who can feel an attraction to anyone, including individuals who do not identify as a specific gender. Pansexual people may describe their attraction as focusing on personality rather than gender.

Cisgender: Umbrella term for those whose gender expression and gender identity are congruent with the sex assigned to them at birth, and whose gender is validated by the dominant culture.

Biological Sex: Category assigned to each of us at birth based on a variety of physical and biological characteristics, usually determined by genitals.

Gender Identity: The internal perception of one’s gender, and how they label themselves, based on how much they align or don’t align with what they understand their options for gender to be. Common identity labels include man, woman, genderqueer, trans and more. Gender identity is sometimes confused with biological sex, or sex assigned at birth.

Sexual Identity: The way in which one understand oneself in regard to one’s sexuality.

Ally: Someone that aligns with and supports a cause with another individual or group of people. A straight ally, more specifically, is an individual outside of the LGBTQIA+ community that supports their fight for equality and rights.

Heterosexual Privilege: The benefits and access to resources one receives from society by virtue of being heterosexual and/or by virtue of being perceived to be heterosexual.

Heterosexism or Heteronormativity: The presumption that heterosexuality is superior to all other sexual orientations. The oppression, discrimination, and bias against people who are not heterosexual.

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