The first step of learning about LGBTQ community is learn about the commonly used terms indicating various sexual orientations and gender identities. Sexual orientation refers to the lasting emotional, romantic or sexual extraction towards people and gender identity refers to ones inner concept of gender such as male, female, a blend of both or none.
What is LGBTQ?
LGBTQ: An acronym for: lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer/questioning. The definitions for these terms are listed below.
Lesbian: A women who is sexually, romantically or emotionally attracted to other women
Gay: A person who is attracted sexually, romantically or emotionally to persons of same gender. This is a gender-neutral term. Therefore, the terms such as “gay men” and “gay women” are used commonly.
Bisexual: A person who is sexually, romantically or emotionally attracted to more than both commonly identified genders (male and female). The attraction may or may not be simultaneous or to the same degree. It must not be confused with pansexual which refers to a person who has the potential for sexual, romantic or emotional attractions to people of all genders (more about gender identities is explained later). The attraction may or may not be simultaneous or to the same degree.
Transgender: A person whose gender identity or gender expression (gender expressed through external appearance such as looks, behaviour, clothing, and voice) is different from the cultural expectations on the sex they were assigned at birth (often based on external anatomy). An important point to note is that it is a gender identity of the person. Sexual orientation may be one of the above or straight.
Q in LGBTQ may stand either for queer or questioning.
Queer: An umbrella term for people of different gender identities and sexual orientations. This term is used interchangeably with LGBTQ.
Questioning: This term is used to describe people who are in the process of exploring their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Sometimes, LGBTQ is further expanded as LGBTQIA+
Where, I refers to intersex, A to asexual and + is used to include people of related communities.
Intersex: Intersex person have a congenital (birth) condition in reproductive and sexual system that do not fit the binary notions of male and female. It is an umbrella term that includes variations in sex chromosomes, gonads (ovaries/testicles), sex hormones, internal reproductive organs or external genitalia.
Asexual: The lack of sexual attraction or desire for other people. They may or may not have romantic or emotional attractions.
Gender Identities and Terms:
Non-binary describes a person who does not exclusively identify as a man or a woman. Some non-binary people identify as transgender persons too.
Gender non-conforming refers to people who do not conform to the traditional expectations of their gender.
Genderfluid: a person who does not identify with a single fixed gender. They may express differently as different gender identities at different times.
Gender expansive: A gender expansive person explores a wider and more flexible range of gender expression than the binary gender system
Genderqueer: It is umbrella term referring to people normally reject the notions of static gender. They may identify themselves as being both male and female, neither male or female, or falling completely outside these categories.
Cisgender refers to a person whose perceived gender identity or gender expression is not different from the cultural expectations on the sex they were assigned at birth
Gender transition: The process of changing one’s gender expression and/or sex charateristics to conform with the perceived gender identity. Normally, people first undergo cultural transition, and some undergo physical transitions through medical interventions (sex reassignment surgery being one among them)
Gender Dysphoria: It is a condition in which people experience psychological or emotional problems because their sense of gender identity is different from the gender assigned at birth.
Personal pronouns: Having known that people may express themselves in different gender identities, it is important to understand the pronouns that people are comfortable with. People may use He/him/his, She/her/hers or they/them/their.
Other commonly used terms in the queer sphere are:
Homosexual/Heterosexual: A person who is attracted to people of the same sex. Heterosexual person is attracted to people of different sex.
Ally: A heterosexual-cisgender person who supports LGBTQ social movements
Closeted: Describes an LGBTQ person who has not disclosed their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Outing: is an act of exposing the sexual orientation or gender identity of someone without their permission. Since may have severe consequences on them (especially in a non-friendly environment), it must be strictly avoided.
Coming out: The process of accepting one’s sexual orientation or gender identity and sharing it with others
Living openly: describes a state in which LGBTQ are comfortably open about the sexual orientation and/or gender identity.
Phobia terms: Prejudice, fear or hatred towards queer people is called queerphobia; If it is towards transgender persons – transphobia; towards bisexual persons – biphobia, towards homosexual persons – homophobia.