LGBT+ identities and terms, the go-to-guide

Nikita Wozniak ‘20, Circulation Manager

 

When it comes to gender, sexuality, and personal identity, for some, figuring yourself out can be extremely overwhelming and confusing. This is especially true if you grew up in an unsupportive home or never had someone to talk to that may understand. So whether you are questioning, or want to be a better ally, here is an A-Z list of LGBT+ identities and terms anybody can get familiar with.

Agender

Someone who does not identify as any particular gender.

Androgynous 

A person who has both masculine and feminine characteristics, which sometimes means you cannot easily distinguish that person’s gender. It can also refer to someone who appears female but who adopts a style that is stereotypically considered masculine.

Aromantic

Experiencing little or no romantic attraction toward others and/or has a lack of interest in romantic relationships/behavior. Aromanticism exists on a continuum from people who experience no romantic attraction or have no desire for romantic activities. This could also range to those who experience low levels of romantic attraction, but only under specific conditions. Many of these different places on the continuum have their own identity labels. 

Asexual

This is experiencing little or no sexual attraction to others and/or a lack of interest in sexual relationships/behavior. Asexuality also exists on a continuum from people who experience no sexual attraction or have any desire for sex. This also ranges to those who experience low levels of sexual attraction, but only under specific conditions. Like aromantic, many of these different places on the continuum have their own identity labels (see demisexual). 

Biromantic 

Biromantic describes a person who is romantically attracted to two or more genders, often including their own. Biromantic asexual people may seek romantic relationships for a variety of reasons, including companionship, affection, and intimacy, but they are not necessarily sexually attracted to their romantic partners.

Bisexual

This is a person who experiences attraction to both men and women. This can also be a person who experiences attraction to some people of their gender and another gender. Bisexual attraction does not have to be equally split, or indicate a level of interest that is the same across the genders to whom an individual may be attracted.

Demiromantic

A demiromantic person is a type of grey-romantic who only experiences romantic attraction after developing an emotional connection beforehand. Demiromantics do not experience primary romantic attraction (“love at first sight”), but they are capable of secondary romantic attraction (“I know you personally, and attraction grew over time”).

Demisexual

Someone who does not develop sexual attraction to anyone until they have a strong emotional connection.

Gay

Experiencing attraction solely (or primarily) to some members of the same gender. Can be used to refer to men who are attracted to other men and women who are attracted to women. This is also an umbrella term used to refer to the queer community as a whole, or as an individual identity label for anyone who is not straight.

Gender

These are societal constructions we assign to male and female. When you hear someone say “gender stereotypes,” they are referring to the ways society seems to expect men/boys and women/girls to act and behave.

Gender Expression

This is how we express our gender identity (see below). It can refer to one’s hair, the clothes worn, and the way one speaks. It is all the ways people do and do not conform to the socially defined behaviors of masculine or feminine.​

Gender Identity

The internal perception of one’s gender, and how they label themselves, based on how much they align or do not align with what they understand their options for gender to be. This is also one’s concept of self as male, female or neither. A person’s gender identity may not align with their sex at birth, and it is not the same as sexual orientation.

Gender Non-Conforming

This is a gender descriptor that indicates a non-traditional gender expression or identity (masculine/feminine). It is also a gender identity label that indicates a person who identifies outside of the gender binary. 

Genderfluid

A gender identity label often used by people whose sense of self (in relation to gender) changes from time-to-time. The time frame might be over the course of many months, days, or anything in between. Some days the person may present themselves as stereotypically male, female, both, or neither. This is all based on the person’s preferred gender expression for a period of time.

Genderqueer

People who reject static, conventional categories of gender and embrace fluid ideas of gender. They are people whose gender identity can be both male and female, neither male nor female, or a combination of male and female.

Lesbian

Women who are primarily attracted romantically, erotically, and/or emotionally to other women.

Mx.

Pronounced “Mix”, it is an honorific (e.g. Mr., Ms., Mrs., etc.) that is gender neutral. It is often the option of choice for folks who do not identify within the gender binary. For example, “Mx. Smith is a great teacher.”

Panromantic

Someone who is panromantic is romantically attracted to people of all gender identities. This does not mean you are romantically attracted to everyone, but it is that someone’s gender does not really factor in to whether you are romantically attracted to them or not.

Pansexual

A person who experiences sexual, romantic, physical, and/or spiritual attraction for members of all gender identities/expressions. Often shortened to “pan.”

Polyamorous

Polyamory is the practice of, or desire for, intimate relationships with more than one partner, with the consent of all partners involved. The most common instances are romantic relationships between three people at once, but there can be more.

Sex

The biological differences between male and female.

Sexual Orientation

How a person characterizes their sexuality. There are three distinct components of sexual orientation. It is comprised of identity (I am gay), behavior (I have sex with the same gender) and attraction (I am sexually attracted to the same gender), and all three might not line up for all people.” (Avoid saying “sexual preference,” which implies it is a choice and easily changed.)

Transgender

A gender description for someone who has transitioned (or is transitioning) from living as one gender to another. This is also an umbrella term for anyone whose sex assigned at birth and gender identity do not correspond in the expected way (e.g., someone who was assigned male at birth, but does not identify as a man).

Transsexual

A person who identifies psychologically as a gender/sex other than the one to which they were assigned at birth. Transsexuals often wish to transform their bodies hormonally and surgically to match their inner sense of gender/sex.

Important note: Transgender people have a gender identity or gender expression that differs from their sex assigned at birth. Some transgender people who desire medical assistance to transition from one sex to another identify as transsexual.

Whether you are questioning or asking for a friend or yourself, it is important to have an open mind when it comes to the topic of the LGBT+ community. With an educated mind and accepting point of view, the world could be a safer and happier place. 

 

Photo courtesy of Walmart.com

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