It occurred to me after writing last week’s very exciting article that a lot of the general public probably isn’t familiar with the Super Cool Trans Kids™ and their lingo. In general, it’s best not to treat your LGBTQIA friends like your own personal Wikipedia article, but since I’m here and writing for the ‘Voice, I figured it wouldn’t hurt to go over some of the basics. LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender) is the more common acronym for the community, but I prefer to use LGBTQIA (LGBT, plus Queer/Questioning, Intersex, and Asexual/Aromantic) because I feel it’s more inclusive. The L and G are fairly well known, but the rest of the LGBTQIA acronym tends to get mixed definitions, so I’ll explain to the best of my ability. Bisexual people are attracted to same and other genders, and it doesn’t have to be men and women because (drum roll, please!) there are more than two genders! The binary gender is a social, western construct. Sex is too, but that’s another argument for another article.
Continuing on my super fun list, trans people identify differently from the sex they were assigned at birth ‒ you may see words like “afab/amab” (assigned female/male at birth) or “dfab/dmab” (designated female/male at birth). A person’s gender identity also doesn’t have to match their gender expression (ie, how they dress, speak, wear their hair, etc). Not all afab trans people bind, not all dmab trans people shave their hair and wear makeup ‒ but some do, and that’s okay, too! Gender is also heavily influenced by a person’s culture: India’s government officially recognizes a “Third Gender”, and Native Americans also have “two-spirited” people.
Queer/Questioning is a bit of an umbrella term and includes people who are questioning their sexuality/gender identity, pansexual people, etc. It’s not perfect, especially because my intent is never to exclude anyone, but I think we’ll get there one day. Intersex people fall outside the traditional binary sex assignments ‒ physically, reproductively, etc. Please do not call people queer or hermaphrodites without their permission. The word “queer” is still considered a slur in many parts of the word, and to the best of my knowledge, the term hermaphrodite is an outdated and offensive identifier.
Asexual people do not experience sexual attraction, and aromantic people do not experience romantic attraction. That isn’t to say that asexual people never have sex, and aromantic people don’t form meaningful relationships ‒ because they do. Some asexual people have high sex drives, while others are completely sex-repulsed, and just because aromantic people don’t want a romantic relationship doesn’t mean they don’t want any relationships.
Our identities aren’t solid, inalterable blocks of stone; they’re more of a malleable, adaptive squishy thing. Gender and sexuality are spectrums. It’s okay to grow, change, and update your understanding of yourself because that’s what we do as people. Also, it’s totally okay to yell at me if I got something wrong here, but not if you’re a Mean Homophobe™ who just wants to gripe about the liberals come to corrupt your poor innocent children.