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The Story of LGBTQIA: What Do All These Letters Really Mean

Polly-Gean Cox 2013/07/25

LGBT, LGBTQ, LGBTQIA…..In previous articles, I have used several of these acronyms, and  I want to use this article as a way to clarify what they all mean. I know sometimes the alphabet soup can be a bit confusing, but hopefully this will break it down for you. Let’s go!

Lesbian: A female- identified person who is attracted romantically, physically, or emotionally to another female-identified person.

Gay: A male-identified person who is attracted romantically, physically, or emotionally to another male-identified person.

Bisexual: Individuals who are attracted to both men and women romantically, physically, or emotionally.

Transgender: Individuals whose biological sex is different than the gender with which they identify. Sometimes the term “born in the wrong body” is used, however this depends on the individual’s preference.

Transsexual: Transsexual individuals have physically altered their body in order to better match their gender identity. It is a term that refers to biology, not to identity necessarily, and it is indicative of a change in one’s physiology.

Queer: queer is an all-inclusive term referencing lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transpeople, and intersex persons.

*It was previously a derogatory term in the 1980s, however, it has currently been reclaimed when referring to the LGBTQIA community. Queer attempts to reject the idea that the labels of lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender are able to explain any one person’s identity.

Intersex: Someone whose physical sex characteristics are not categorized as exclusively male or exclusively female.

Asexual: A person who is not attracted to anyone or does not have sexual orientation.

Ally: A person who does not identify as LGBTQIA but supports the rights and safely of those who do.

In my previous article ENDA, I spoke briefly about the differences between sexual orientation and gender. I find the Ginger Bread Person to be a very useful tool to provide interventions and education to both clients and individuals in the community. The following link is an additional resource that will help clarify any additional questions you may have regarding gender and sexuality. Here is a preview:

Love the Genderbread Person? Then you’re going to love the book I wrote. It’s called The Social Justice Advocate’s Handbook: A Guide to Gender, and it’s a couple hundred pages of awesome. – See more at: http://itspronouncedmetrosexual.com/2012/03/the-genderbread-person-v2-0/#sthash.40zyeIF0.dpuf

Genderbread 2.11 The Story of LGBTQIA: What Do All These Letters Really Mean

About Author

Polly-Gean Cox

Polly-Gean Cox, LCSWA is the LGBTQIA staff writer for Social Work Helper. Polly is a holistic Social Worker promoting cultural awareness for the LGBTQIA population within healthcare systems. Polly focuses on the importance of education among both micro and macro systems of Social Work. View all posts by Polly-Gean Cox →

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