I’ve had a lot of people (from my perspective) come to me to ask me about LGBTQAI+ things, and I wanted to write out some of my thoughts about it – but not from my point of view, so much as in a way that might help someone struggling with identifying.
Definitions in a moment, first a few
Really Important Things to Know
- You do not have to be in, or have been in, a sexual relationship with every type of person you are attracted to in order to be valid in your identity. For example, if you’re bisexual and have never dated a man, it doesn’t negate your bisexuality. Your orientation is based on who you are attracted to – not who you’ve slept with.
- You do not owe ANYONE a list of moments, realizations, reasons, etc. in order to “Prove” your sexual or gender identity. Introspection, definitions, and other resources are a good way to explore your identity, but you don’t have to pass a test.
- You do not have to present in a societally acceptable way to prove your sexual or gender identity. i.e. you don’t have to “look” feminine to be female.
- You do not get to tell someone else that their sexual or gender identity is invalid because you think they’re faking it. (The one caveat to this are people who joke about their gender identity or sexual orientation being “Ottersexual Attack Helicopter”. Those jokes are transphobic and homophobic and do nothing except diminish the importance and health impacts of personal identity.)
- Every letter in the LGBTQAI+ community faces discrimination. Don’t be cruel to one another. Be empathetic and understand that while the shape of discrimination can vary within the community, the pain and impact of it for one group doesn’t invalidate it for another group.
- Your PoC siblings have it worse than you. This is indisputable. Be fucking Kind.
YOU DON’T GET TO SAY YOU’RE PART OF THE COMMUNITY IF YOU BERATE SOMEONE ELSE’S IDENTITY JUST BECAUSE YOU DON’T THINK IT’S VALID.
The following is not a comprehensive list. It only contains the phrases I know.
-:- Gender Identity Definitions:
Cisgender – not a slur or derogatory remark, can be shortened to “cis” and still not be derogatory. Simply means you identify with the gender you were assigned at birth. i.e. born female, identifies female. How one dresses or presents does not invalidate a cisgender person’s identity.
Transgender – The opposite of cisgender, transgender means you identify with a gender you were not assigned at birth. Often referred to as Trans. Some people undergo hormone therapy, surgery, speech therapy, and more to conform to their idea of their actual gender. Doing all, some, or none does not determine the validity of a transgender person’s identity.
Gender Fluid – A mix of the two traditional genders wherein they may feel more masculine some days and more feminine others. I know some Gender Fluid people will go by at least two names to help identify which gender they feel more of for that day. Gender presentation does not have to be 50/50 to validate a person’s identity as Gender Fluid.
(I think you’re seeing the pattern here, so I’m going to stop).
Genderqueer – an Umbrella term for many gender-nonconforming or non-binary identities. Often used in conjunction with non-binary gender expressions (I.e. Genderqueer Trans), also used by people who haven’t found a word that adequately describes their gender identity.
Non-binary* – (aka Enby (pronounced “N”-Bee)) – someone who does not feel male or female, and in my experience feels like A Gender, just not one that we have a word for.
Agender* – someone who does not have a gender or does not identify with a gender. They may describe themselves as gender neutral or genderless
*Non-binary/Agender can have a lot of overlap in who identifies this way and why. Word choice is personal preference in a lot of cases.
-:- Sexual Orientation Definitions:
Heterosexual – “Hetero” means different (it’s a prefix), so heterosexual means you’re attracted to someone of a different sex.
Homosexual – “Homo” means same (it’s another prefix!), so homosexual means you’re attracted to someone of the same sex.
Gay – while an umbrella term denoting LGBTQAI+ in general, it also denotes homosexual humans who identify as male.
Lesbian – Homosexual humans who identify as female.
Bisexual (Aka Bi )– Someone attracted to both men and women. This attraction does not have to be equally split, and does not require that the person who identifies this way to be – or to have been – sexually active with both (or all) genders. Bisexual orientation can include Genderqueer people as well and is not restricted to the gender binary or two specific genders.
Pansexual (aka Pan) – Someone who is attracted to everyone. Can generally be used interchangeably with bisexual – despite the close definition these two phrases share, neither phrase is more correct than the other. Just like with bisexual, one does not have to be, or had have been, in a sexual relationship with all the types of humans they are attracted to in order to be valid.
Demisexual (aka Demi) – “little or no capacity to experience sexual attraction until a strong romantic connection is formed with someone, often within a romantic relationship.” – The best way I know how to describe Demisexual is that if you NEED a romantic/intellectual/strong bond with someone before having sex, regardless of your or their gender, you are probably demisexual and just don’t know it.
Asexual (aka Ace) – Someone who experiences little or no sexual attraction regardless of their, or your, gender identity.
-:- Romantic Orientation Definitions:
Note: I do not personally identify on a Romantic level, but I’ve seen it enough to understand the phrases and the importance it has for people who do.
Aromantic – Experiencing little or no romantic attraction to others.
Panromantic – Experiencing romantic attraction to other regardless of their gender identity, though not necessarily feeling a sexual attraction like pansexuals do.
Demiromantic – Experiencing romantic attraction to other only under specific conditions or after knowing someone for an extended time.
Some examples of valid identity combinations!
- Pansexual Enby – Hey! That’s me ❤ I find all faces smoochable, would not mind smooching all faces, and I do not identify as my assigned gender at birth. As a matter of fact, I don’t identify as any gender since currently I don’t know a word that fits how I feel.
- Asexual Panromantic Cisgender – a person who identifies as their assigned gender at birth who experiences little or no sexual attraction to people and who can engage in romantic activities with people of any gender identity.
- Bisexual Demiromantic Transgender – A person who does not identify as their assigned gender at birth who experiences sexual attraction to two or more genders, and who is only romantic under specific conditions.
As I said, this is not a comprehensive list. I’ve included a link to a pdf you can download that is updated, and is closer to a possible comprehensive list, but even that author states it’s constantly evolving.
If you don’t want to deal with a PDF this slightly less updated, but by no means outdated, blog post is a good place to start