Inside and Outside of the LGBTQ Community
- LGBT, LGBTQ, LGBTQIA+: Abbreviations meant to encompass the entire community, including but not limited to lesbian, gay, bisexual, pansexual, transgender, non-binary, queer, questioning, intersex, and asexual identities.
- Gender: A complex part of a person’s identity; an interplay of self-perception, personality, and embodiment. More than just male or female, there are hundreds of possible genders.
- Gender Identity: A gendered sense of self as a man or woman, another gender entirely, or no gender at all.
- Gender Expression, Gender Presentation: Gendered cues such as clothes, hair, and mannerisms that are perceived by others as conveying masculinity, femininity, or androgyny.
- Assigned Sex, Gender Assignment: The sex/gender a baby is designated at birth, based on appearance of body parts.
- Sexuality or Sexual Orientation: Identity terms – such as lesbian, gay, straight, bi, and asexual – broadly describing who a person is attracted to or desires a relationship with; sometimes divided into sexual and romantic orientations.
- Bisexual, Bi: A bisexual person experiences attraction to people of genders both similar to and different from their own.
- Pansexual: A pansexual person is one who may be attracted to others without regard to gender, or has the potential to be attracted to people of any gender.
- Asexual, Ace: An asexual person experiences little or no sexual attraction. Ace, aro, or aromantic may be used to refer to similar lack of romantic attraction.
- Gray asexual describes a spectrum between total absence of attraction and some level of sexual attraction. A demisexual person experiences little to no attraction without first establishing an emotional bond with that person.
- Transgender, Trans: A transgender person’s gender identity is something other than the gender assigned to them when they were born. Transsexual is an older, medicalized term referring to someone who intends to transition or has transitioned.
- Transition: Steps a transgender or non-binary person may take to feel more comfortable in their body or gender, such as changing their name, requesting different pronouns, dressing differently, (as a youth) hormone inhibitors, or (as an adult) accessing hormones or surgery. Use gender transition instead of sex change.
- Agender: A person who does not identify with any gender, or who does not feel that gender is relevant to them personally.
- Cisgender, Cis: Someone who is comfortable with their gender assignment at birth, and feels it describes them.
- Genderfluid: A person whose gender identity changes over time or with circumstances. A bigender person moves between more than one gender and/or experiences more than one gender at the same time. Pangender is another common related term, which describes a dense, multilayered experience of gender.
- Non-binary, Genderqueer: Types of gender identities that cannot be adequately described by “male” or “female” and which exist between or outside of those options.
- Two-Spirit: Gender identity unique to indigenous Native American and First Nations people whose gender (or orientation) is outside of binary gender norms. Third gender is a more general term that describes non-cis gender identities from indigenous or non-Western cultures.
- Intersex: People with intersex conditions are born with anatomy that is not typically male or female. Chromosomes, hormones, and bodily development may play a part in intersex conditions, such as XXY chromosomes or androgen insensitivity syndrome. Also known as Disorders of Sex Development (medicalized term); use intersex instead of hermaphrodite, which is an offensive term.
- Pronouns: In this context, pronouns (or preferred pronouns) refers to gendered or gender-neutral third person pronouns such as she/her, they/them, he/him etc., that a person may wish to be called by others as a part of their gender expression. Whatever pronouns a person requests should be used to the best of your ability.
▼ Using the right name and pronoun is the most immediate way to support (or undermine) a transgender individual.
▼ If their gender expression changes, continue to use the pronouns they ask for.
▼ Misgendering someone in public tends to cause others to misgender them too; the repercussions for them could be painful or even life-threatening.
▼ If you find you are having trouble using a trans individual's preferred pronouns or hesitating in the moment, make flashcards and get good at it.
Look for ways to express acceptance and actively include LGBTQ people in your school or workplace, social circles, and family…
▼ Assume there are gay, lesbian, bi, trans, and non-binary people in your life.
▼ Advocate for or provide unisex bathrooms and changing areas; do not attempt to micromanage who uses which bathroom.
▼ Be conscious of where a person is out, and do not out them to others.
▼ Treat trans individuals as the gender they identify with; prioritize identity over assumptions about a person’s body or their assigned sex.
▼ Use an individual’s preferred pronouns and the name they ask you to use, even if it is not their legal name.
▼ Do not frame singular they as grammatically incorrect; Oxford English Dictionary supports the use of they and them as singular gender neutral pronouns. In any case, it is the person's preference and comfort that is important, not the technical correctness of rapidly-changing language.
▼ Avoid conflating body parts with gender; for example, not everyone who experiences periods and pregnancy is a girl or woman.
▼ Shut down transphobic and homophobic jokes or language used around you. Openly demonstrating LGBTQ acceptance gives others a model to work from and better ways to react than existing violent cultural scripts.
▼ Be aware of the overt ways our culture punishes LGBTQ people: street violence, bullying, suicide, exclusion from church communities and families, discrimination in housing and jobs, and invisibility within cultural narratives.
▼ Be aware of the subtle ways our culture rejects our identities: transmisogynist treatment of gender non-conformity as farcical, misgendering trans people in the news, and policing the gender appropriateness of clothes or activities for other people all create a hostile environment.
▼ Know the challenges facing people in other parts of the LGBTQ community, and look for ways to include and support others who have identities and experiences very different from your own. Strive for awareness of ways that spaces may be inaccessible to people with disabilities, or made unsafe and uncomfortable for some community members due to racism.
▼ The way our culture thinks about gender and the meanings of the words we use to describe ourselves are changing all the time, so be ready to take on whatever comes next, even if it seems silly or strange. Every one of us has more to learn.
Created By Leslie Boker, Edited and Updated (2016) by Leslie Boker & Grand Rapids Pride Center