Along with all the other changes that we experienced in the last couple of years, the language to discuss sexual orientation and gender identity has also changed. The LGBT abbreviation has acquired more letters around sexuality and gender that not everyone is familiar with yet. This article attempts to explain what LGBTQIA+ stands for.
Lesbian: A woman whose primary sexual orientation and attraction are towards the same gender.
Gay: Sexual orientation and attraction towards the same gender. Most commonly used for men.
Bisexual: Someone who is attracted to people of the same gender or other gender identities.
Transgender: A person whose gender identity or gender expression differs from the biological sex assigned at birth.
Gender Queer: A term used to describe someone whose gender identity is outside the male and female binary. Someone who rejects conventional categories of gender and embraces fluid ideas of gender.
Intersex: A person who is born with biological sex characteristics that don’t fit the typical definitions of female or male bodies. Intersexuality doesn’t refer to sexual orientation or gender identity.
Asexual: A term to define individuals feeling little to no sexual attraction.
+ in LGBTQIA is a denotation of everything on the gender and sexuality spectrum. The "plus" represents other sexual identities including pansexual and Two-Spirit.
Pansexual: Someone who is attracted to people of all gender identities. Or someone who is attracted to a person’s qualities regardless of their gender identity.
Two-Spirit: Used by some Indigenous people to describe a person who identifies as having both a masculine and a feminine spirit.
Non- Binary: A person who identifies as neither male nor female and sees themselves outside the gender binary.
While language is changing and evolving constantly, it is always a good idea to start by understanding what these terms are and their definition. Terms and language are also a way for a community to take back power, identity, and respect for themselves.
This list is by no means exhaustive. Some of these terms because they are so personal might also mean different things to different people. If you're unsure or confused about a term do ask questions and clarify. Ask someone in the LGBTQIA+ community, an ally, the internet, etc. As anyone you are comfortable with and trust.