LGBTQ+ Defined

Every identity you will ever need to know (probably) and its definition

I’ve been approached recently enquiring advice on labels. The world puts an almost annoying emphasis on labels, but unfortunately, a lot of the time labels can be confusing for everyone. Sometimes, a little definition doesn’t go amiss, though, because although labels cause issues, they also allow people to identify themselves away from a “norm” that they don’t vibe with. So here’s a little blog post helping clear up some of the labels you’re most likely to encounter in everyday life.

Separating sexuality, romantic attraction and gender

There are three key areas we first need to understand.

Attraction

There are two main definable types of attraction in labels that come in the form of prefixes. Sexual attraction (x-sexual) and romantic attraction (x-romantic) are two mutually exclusive forms of attraction common amongst most people. Sexual attraction is (usually) the attraction to the physicality of a human being and romantic attraction is (usually) the attraction to the romantic aspects of a relationship with a human being.

Gender Identity

Separately, there is also gender identity. This is unrelated to sexuality, but will often affect the label one gives to one’s sexual and romantic orientation. Gender identity is the personal sense of one’s own gender. It can correlate with a person’s assigned sex at birth or can differ from it. Gender expression typically reflects a person’s gender identity, but this is not always the case. The most important thing is that gender just represents how one feels within themselves and nothing else.

It is commonly misconstrued that Sex is the same as Gender, which it is not. Sex is derived from physical characteristics and gametes and thus gender is assigned derived from these characteristics at birth, usually male, female or intersex. Some people continue to identify with their assigned gender identity, and others don’t, but both are valid.

Sexual attraction

“Sexual attraction can be defined as having a heightened interest in someone because they stimulate sexual desire or arousal. When and how this experience occurs is different from person to person because we all have different preferences, and also what is considered “sexual” is subjective.” – Ash Hardell. Sexual attraction is usually measured between two points, allosexual and asexual, in a sort of non-linear scale (depending on the person)

The attraction scale

Allosexual is a term used to describe someone who experiences sexual attraction and asexual is a term used to describe someone who does not.

Asexuality (Ace) is an identity in itself, allowing people to identify themselves with a state of no or limited sexual attraction and their pride flag looks like this:

Allosexuality is a state considered “the norm” so, therefore, isn’t usually a term someone uses to identify themselves, but I felt it was a useful piece of contextual information to properly understand asexuality. However, as with everything, these identities don’t exist in a binary. People who sit in between asexual and allosexual are usually referred to as Grey Asexual or Greysexual, one of the most common of which I have come across is Demi-sexual, which is an identity used to describe someone who only experiences sexual attraction after a close bond has been formed with a person, but of course, that is just one term that fits under that umbrella.

Attraction to gender

Gender is an infinite spectrum, however, some use labels to describe their own personal sense of gender. This does mean it would be impossible to define every single sexual orientation under the sun, but I can define some of the most common you may come across:

  • Heterosexual [straight] – The attraction to the opposite sex/gender
  • Homosexual [Gay/Lesbian] – The attraction to the same sex/gender
  • Bisexual [Bi] – The attraction to two or more genders
  • Pansexual [Pan] –  The attraction to people regardless of gender
  • Queer – An umbrella term, used by someone who chooses not to associate with a specific identity

There are over 50 sexual orientations listed on LGBTA.wikia.org so these 5 are obviously not the only identities, but these are the ones that I have most commonly encountered in my time on the internet. That obviously does not mean that any other identity is less valid, but it’s a base level.

Romantic attraction

“Romantic attraction can be described as an emotional desire, pull towards, and/or attachment to someone. A person who is romantically attracted to someone may desire emotional closeness or intimacy with that person. This closeness is commonly described as different or “more than” the intimacy present in friendships or strictly platonic relationships. Like sexual attraction, romantic attraction also varies from person to person because “romance” is — you guessed it — subjective.” – Ash Hardell 
Romantic attraction is usually measured between two points, alloromantic and aromantic, in a sort of non-linear scale (depending on the person).

The attraction scale

The good thing about romantic attraction is that you can take everything you know about the Ace/Allo spectrum, but just insert the prefix ‘-romantic’. Someone romantic does not experience romantic attraction. It is an identity in itself, here is its pride flag:

Alloromantic isn’t really something that people identify with, but is used as an umbrella term to describe people who fit “the norm”. That’s the most I’ll get into the Arro spectrum, but I’m sure you’ve caught on at this point.

Attraction to gender

Again, it’s impossible to define every single romantic orientation under the sun, but I can define some of the most common you may come across:

  • Hetero-romantic – The romantic attraction to the opposite sex/gender
  • Homoromantic – The romantic attraction to the same sex/gender
  • Biromantic – The romantic attraction to two or more genders
  • Panromantic –  The romantic attraction to people regardless of gender
  • Queer – An umbrella term, used by someone who chooses not to associate with a specific identity

There are over 50 romantic orientations listed on LGBTA.wikia.org so these 5 are obviously not the only identities, but these are the ones that I have most commonly encountered in my time on the internet. That obviously does not mean that any other identity is less valid, but it’s a base level.

I’ll leave some common pride flags at the bottom of this blog, so they’re easy to identify too.

Gender

To understand gender, we can look at it Apophatically, and so must define Sex, which is “Either of the two main categories (male and female) into which humans and many other living things are divided based on their reproductive functions.” [1] In other words, opposite states are utilised to describe who one person can reproduce with. I have been quoting extracts from Ash Hardell’s Book The GayBCs of LGBT+ throughout this blog post because personally, I think they do a brilliant job of describing things. They describe Gender as “composed of self-understanding and self-perception. In the simplest terms: assigned sex is rooted in our biology, while gender is rooted in who we know ourselves to be beyond our biology.”

Some people identify with their assigned gender, which they were given at birth. These people are cisgender. Others who do not identify with their assigned gender are transgender.

Cisgender, like allosexual/romantic, is an umbrella term usually used to identify the group who make up “the norm” rather than being a separate identity, however, you will find more people who know about their Cis identity than necessarily their all identity.

Transgender is both an identity and an umbrella term [similar to asexual/romantic] and can mean all manner of things, but on a surface level, it describes a person who doesn’t identify with their assigned gender. Here are some key terms you might need to know.

  • Binary – The identities Man and Woman, as they are considered polar opposites in wider society
  • Non-binary [Enby] – Both identity and an umbrella term for someone who sits outside of Man and Woman
  • Male to Female [MTF] – A transgender person who has transitioned from male to female
  • Female to Male [FTM] – A transgender person who has transitioned from female to male
  • Assigned male at birth [AMAB] – Assumed a man at birth
  • Assigned female at birth [AFAB] – Assumed a woman at birth
  • To be “on T” or “on E” – To be on Testosterone or Estrogen respectfully
  • HRT – Hormone Replacement Therapy
  • Trans Man – Someone who has transitioned to be a man
  • Trans Woman – Someone who has transitioned to be a woman
  • Gender Dysphoria – A sense of discomfort and distress with one’s gender

Quite a few more definitions here. Ultimately there cannot be any concrete deciding factor when it comes to Gender Identity, because it is so vast and diverse, full of different experiences. Gender is a personal experience, not a common one and so no trans person is more or less valid, because you cannot judge an experience as diverse as gender, based on who fits expectations.

So, that’s the queer community in brief. Although there is a large lack of representation in this blog, and for that, I apologise, this will provide a base level of understanding to anyone and I hoped it helped with some definition. Now for some pride flags:

Rainbow Flag
Lesbian Pride Flag
Bisexual Pride Flag
Pansexual Pride Flag
Non-binary Pride Flag
Transgender Pride Flag

-Io

Bibliography


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: