For those of you staring at the acronyms above, wondering what LGBTQ or when the Q got added to LGBT (or even what the T and B stand for), wonder no longer. This is the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer terminology guide. Though it may not seem important to those already in the know, for those who haven’t familiarised themselves with the terms, it’s important that we’re all on the same page, especially since we’re all on this earth together. Feel free to cut this out and pin it up if you have roommates that need a refresher, or just for your own use.
Lesbian: Not eyecandy, but instead a woman interested in women.
Gay: A man interested in men. Not defined by his sexuality.
Homosexuality: Not necessarily interested in you. Also not a molester waiting to strike.
Bisexuality: An interest in either sex. Threesomes not required (or even desired).
Pansexuality: An interest in any person. Pansexuality is distinct from bisexuality in that it doesn’t have quite the same binary connotations.
Asexuality: Just not into sex. An asexual person may experience romantic interest, but sexual stimulus just is not something they need or desire. However some may engage in sexual acts for the benefit of their partner.
Sex: The physical characteristics, including but not limited to your genitals.
Gender: The non-physical characteristics. Gender can be flexible, and many individuals don’t get a concrete notion of what their gender is until later in life.
Cisgender: A person whose sex and gender are the same and have been since birth.
Transgender: A person whose sex and gender don’t match. A trans individual will experience something called gender dysphoria. Typically thought of as Male to Female (MtF) and Female to Male (FtM), transgender is actually an umbrella term.
Gender Binary: The idea that one can be male or female and that is it. This is an outdated notion – most agree nowadays that gender, like sexuality, is a spectrum.
Genderqueer: Similar to transgender, but without the binary connotations. As gender is a spectrum, some may be neither male nor female, or both, or even flow from one end of the spectrum to the other.
Gender dysphoria: The nagging feeling that something about your body is wrong, or does not belong. This manifests differently for every transgender or genderqueer individual, and can cause panic, self-destructive tendencies, and depression. This can be eased by starting transition, though not every trans person can afford to transition or feel safe doing so.
Transition: A process which trans people may undertake. This can include, but is not limited to: changing wardrobes, binding, packing, taking hormones, getting top surgery, bottom surgery, removal of the ovaries, changing names, breaking off contact with less understanding loved ones, tucking, getting falsies, relearning how to walk, relearning how to talk, and other processes. That’s a lot to even look at, let alone actually enact! Transition is a hard process which can take years depending on what you want and what you feel you need, with many restrictions in place. An individual may transition one way only to transition back if that doesn’t feel quite right.
Pronouns: What you call yourself. Everybody knows male and female pronouns (he/his/him and she/hers/her respectively), but other pronouns include, but are not limited to, they/their/them and ze/hir. Though one might not encounter people using the last two very often, they are in use within the genderqueer community. Not all genderqueer people will use those, however. Some stick to binary pronouns either because of preference or for the ease of others.
Regardless of what pronouns someone chooses to use, it’s important to respect them. If you’re not sure, asking someone about their pronouns is perfectly acceptable.
Queer: The umbrella term of umbrella terms! Queer is everything non-hetero and non-cis. Even if it isn’t listed here, it falls under queer. Queerness, however, does not include BDSM or open relationships. Queerness is defined on an individual basis, not by how you express affection or by the number of people you express that affection to.
If you have a question you’d like answered by Love/Sex/You, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with “L/S/Y” in the subject line.