Updated: Apr 9, 2021
Many people know and understand what LGBT means, but over the years, the language used in the queer community has adapted to better describe how individuals identify. That’s why taking some time to learn what the longer acronym means is so important – because people’s identities are important.
Continue reading for a breakdown of each letter...
L = LESBIAN
A lesbian is a woman who is romantically and sexually attracted to other women.
Gay in this acronym refers to a man who is romantically and sexually attracted to other men. However, the word/term gay is universally known as a way to describe anyone who is in a same-sex relationship.
Gay is also an acronym in itself. Gay people took back the phrase coining it to mean Good As You.
B = Bisexual
Being bisexual means regardless of your gender, you are romantically and sexually attracted to both male and female genders. It’s important to note at this point that sexuality is often on a spectrum, meaning individuals might feel more drawn to/attracted to a certain gender, but this doesn’t make anyone less or more ‘bisexual’.
T = Transgender / Trans
When we are born, a doctor will identify that we are either male or female based on our sex organs.
Transgender is an umbrella term that simply means - someone whose gender identity does not match the biological one assigned to them at birth.
So, a transgender woman lives now as a woman but was male when she was born, and a transgender man lives a man today but was thought to be a female when he was born.
To fully understand Trans people, it’s important to grasp the difference between biological sex and gender identity.
Biological sex is defined by your sexual organs, your hormones and by chromosomes – this is what is different about the 2 sex’s - male and female.
Gender identity is how you see yourself, your internal and personal sense. Sometimes how you feel doesn’t fit neatly into the 2 options set by society.
I = Intersex
Intersex is a general term used for a person who is born with genitalia that doesn’t fit the typical definition of male or female. A person could be born appearing to be female on the outside but have mostly male anatomy on the inside, or a person could be born with what seems like male and female parts. Approximately 1.7% of the population is born intersex (which is roughly the same % of people who have red hair), yet many people don’t know the facts surrounding it.
Q = Queer/Questioning
Queer is a term often used to describe any sexual or gender identity other than straight, cisgender people. Some people use this word to describe the community or to describe themselves.
Previously queer was sometimes used as a slur, and the context in which people used it had negative connotations, but also, it was said to have been worn as a badge of honour (We’re here, we’re queer, get used to it). People within the community might have different opinions of the word. Still, the overall consensus from this learning experience is that if the word is used by someone in a positive context - it should be all good (however, it is always important to be mindful and respectful if words or phrases can be triggering for others).
The Q can also stand for questioning. People often say everyone in the community starts by questioning, some might still be exploring, and others may not feel comfortable applying a social label to themselves yet (or ever).
A = Asexual
Asexuality is the lack of sexual attraction to others, meaning you have a low or nonexistent interest in sexual activity.
Just because someone doesn’t feel sexual attraction doesn’t mean they feel no attraction at all. Again, being asexual is on a spectrum. Some people might feel romantic attraction or be attracted to how someone looks physically, and they may crave physical attraction in another sense, such as wanting to be touched/holding hands or cuddling. There is no set rule, and everyone is different.
+ = Everything else
The plus stands for everything and anything else that people use to describe their experiences of their gender, sexuality, and physiological sex characteristics. For everyone who belongs to the community.
A small but easy way to become a better ally to the LGBTIQA+ community is to familiarize yourself with the current language used, ask respectful questions if you’re unsure, do some research – and don’t shy away from important conversations!