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LGBTQIA glossary: Common gender and sexuality terms explained

Mainstream media seems to be remembering and even embracing more letters in the variations of LGBTQIA (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning, intersex and asexual), it's important to acknowledge that respect and understanding of the LGBTQIA community involves continuous learning.

So buckle in for a lesson in language. Below are definitions for each of the letters of the LGBTQIA acronym, along with some other common sexuality and gender terms.

Bisexual: The word "bi", meaning "two", speaks of a person's attraction to two genders. Bisexuality is unrelated to a person's own gender or promiscuity, it simply means they feel attraction to men and women.

Transgender: The word "trans" is Latin for "cross". Transgender people are people whose gender identities are different to the gender they were assigned at birth. In our medical system, most babies born are categorised as male or female based on their physical characteristics (genitals, hormones, etc.).

For many people, however, the gender they were assigned is not the identity that actually exists within them - though they are not "broken", "mismatched" or strange.

The term "transition" can describe a process that transgender people undergo in order to live their lives more fully as themselves. Transition does not necessarily have an end point, and there are many reasons why transgender people choose to include hormones or surgical procedures in the process, or not choose those things.

Importantly, trans people have no obligation to explain why they've made the decisions they have. Questions about their bodies are among the countless acts of aggression and violence faced by trans every day.

Queer: The word queer is still a contentious word, originating as a threatening label for gender and sexuality diverse people. Its origins squirm all the way back through English and Scottish, always meaning something "not straight". By the 1980s, the AIDS epidemic brought the issue of homophobia irrevocably to the fore.

One of the first groups to flip the meaning of queer and reclaim it were four gay men from ACT-UP (an organisation for gay men's health), who named themselves Queer Nation.

Since then, the word has somersaulted through radical communities and academia alike. Now queer is not just an umbrella term for sexuality and gender diverse people - it is a proclamation of fearless difference, a self-identifying commitment to counter culture.

Intersex: Intersex people have genital, chromosomal or other physical characteristics that don't fall into what is typically labelled as male or female.

To be intersex has long been the butt of the great gender joke, stigmatised and all grouped under the term "hermaphrodites" or sidelined and assigned a single gender. There are many variations within humans' biological makeup that are intersex - more than most people realise.

As intersex refers to biology, it does not describe a person's sexual or gender orientation. It is generally explained, "intersex is often associated with a medical diagnosis of disorders, or differences of sex development (DSD). Some intersex individuals may prefer to be described as a 'person with an intersex variation' or be identified by their specific variation."

Asexual: Asexuality is the absence of sexual attraction. It is just as varied as any other identity, and not every asexual person has the same desires: some asexual people are in romantic relationships where sometimes they desire sex, and some are in romantic relationships where they never desire sex, and some are not in romantic relationships at all.

Asexuality is rarely ever spoken about or represented in our society, which tends to focus on heterosexuality foremost. Indeed, sexuality pervades nearly every aspect of the public sphere - advertising, popular culture, the mainstream media - and the way we talk about healthy relationships.

Asexuality is even underrepresented in the queer world; but perhaps losing the emphasis we put on sex as a marker of a person's ability to relate to others would be beneficial for us all.

Gender fluidity/gender diversity: Many gender identities exist outside of masculine and feminine. Sex refers to a person's biological characteristics, while gender is a person's identity (who they feel they are inside) and the mix of those things can mean a person may identify as male, female, both or neither.

Gender diversity includes people who identify as transgender, genderfluid, intersex, gender questioning and genderqueer people. Gender diverse people do not owe an explanation for who they are, how they feel or how they look.

People who identify as genderfluid live between, above, behind, around gender. Some genderfluid people feel very masculine on some days, and feminine on others, while some live free from definition entirely. Genderfluidity, and gender diversity, is natural and unique to every individual.

Cisgender: This is a term used to describe people who identify with the gender they were assigned at birth, for example, a person born with male genitals who identifies as a man is cisgender. Almost all public figures, advertising and mainstream media content represents the cisgender population.

Sexual fluidity: Living a sexually fluid life means embracing the notion that desire and sexuality can be organic, growing and changing with a person. Each individual's experience of sexual fluidity is different from the next - some people's sexuality can change from day to day, year to year, relationship to relationship.

Those who are sexually fluid may also use other labels to describe themselves, and those labels may change over time.

Pansexual: "Pan", meaning "all-inclusive", is an expression for a person's attraction to multiple genders. Some pansexual people describe their attraction as being based on chemistry rather than gender, but everyone is different.

Like bisexuality, there are a lot of misconceptions about polysexual people (people who feel attraction to more than one gender).

Heterosexism: The root of heterosexism is a normative attitude to gender, sexuality and identity in society. Heterosexism describes the assumption that heterosexuality (romantic or sexual attraction between people of opposite sex or gender) is the default, and that non-normative bodies and attraction are strange and wrong.

Transphobia: Tragically, transphobia is both the specific hatred and fear of transgender people, and is felt by many people with non-normative bodies, identities and relationships.

It manifests as violence against trans and gender diverse people, whether it be physical, verbal or emotional. Transphobia is rife in the world.

admin 07.04.2016 0 3811
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