Maybe your child has recently come out to you, or maybe you have a coworker or family member who has. Maybe your child knows someone who is queer and doesn’t understand what that means. In this article, I’m going to breakdown the LGBT+ acronym, so that you can better understand what each term means and will be better able to respect the person in your life who falls under the queer umbrella.
LGBT+ is the shortened version of LGBTQQI2SA: lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex, two-spirit, and asexual (not ally!). There are variations of this acronym, some include pansexual for example, but this is the most commonly used expanded abbreviation as of writing this piece.
Most people know what the first four letters stand for, but we’ll cover them anyway. Lesbians are women who are attracted to women, and gay men are men who are attracted to men. Bisexual people are those who are attracted to men and women, though many experience varying degrees of attraction to either gender. Trans people are people who identify as a gender other than what they were assigned at birth; for example, they may have been assigned female at birth because of the presence of a vagina, but they identify as a male.
Queer is an umbrella term that can be used by any person under the LGBT+ umbrella, and it can mean anything from “gay” to “nonbinary.” At the same time, many people under the umbrella choose not to use it, because they find it offensive as a result of straight and cisgendered people using it to abuse the gay community. If someone identifies as queer, there is nothing wrong with them using that term, but if a LGBT+ person tells you they are uncomfortable with the word then do not use it to describe them.
Questioning people are those who are unsure of what their gender and sexual identity is.
Intersex people are those who are born with differences in their genitalia, sex hormones, chromosomes, sex characteristics, or gonads, that result in them not fitting what we associate with male or female bodies. It is especially important not to pry and ask an intersex person what makes them intersex– a person is more than their genitals, and it is none of your business.
Two-Spirited people are First Nations or Indigenous people who have both a masculine and feminine side. It is very important to note that this term is one that is only meant to be used in those communities.
Asexual people are those who feel no, or varying degrees of, sexual attraction. There is a whole spectrum of asexuality, which we won’t get into today, but it includes everything from feeling no sexual attraction at all (and possibly experiencing sexual repulsion) to not feeling a desire for sex but still engaging in it occasionally.
Despite the length of the acronym, there are still lots of gender and sexual identities that aren’t included. This article will have hopefully given you a good idea of what the acronym means, and I hope that you will be better able to understand your queer friends and family after reading this.