Defining LGBTQ

LGBTQ is an acronym that stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Queer, and is used to designate a community of people whose sexual or gender identities can create shared political and social concerns. The LGBTQ acronym does not encompass everybody and different organisations may use fewer or more letters, for example, an ‘I’ to indicate Intersex* people.

For the purpose of simplification the commonly accepted definitions of important terms and concepts have been given below. But first it’s important to introduce the concept of ‘self-definition’. Essentially, it is important that people preserve the right to self-define into any or none of the categories below. It is not for others to dictate how we define, or which box society can most comfortably place us into.

Lesbian: A woman who is attracted to other women.

Gay: A man who is attracted to other men.

Bisexual: An individual who is attracted to both genders.

Trans: An umbrella term that seeks to incorporate individuals whose gender identities do not match their biological sex, for example, somebody who is born male-bodied and identifies as a woman. The term ‘Trans’ includes those who are pre or post surgery and those who do not wish to undertake surgery to alter their sex.

A distinction is posed between sex (male/female) which is a biological given at birth, and gender (man/woman) which is a sociological and psychological construction concerned with characteristics that are not biological.

Queer: Individuals who experience fluidity in their experience of sexuality or gender and therefore do not identify strictly as LGB or T. The term ‘Queer’ can also include those who do not identify as either gender.

Further Useful Definitions:

Heterosexual: An individual who is attracted to members of the opposite gender.

Cisgendered: When an individual’s gender identity matches their biological sex.

*Intersex: An individual who is born with biological characteristics of both sexes. Intersex individuals are sometimes included within the LGBTQ acronym.

Heteronormative: Heteronormativity is a  set of lifestyle norms that imply that people fall into only one of two distinct and complementary genders with each having certain natural roles in life, and that heterosexuality is the only normal sexual orientation.

Asexuality: An asexual person is someone who doesn’t experience sexual attraction towards others, regardless of gender. The general estimate is that 1% of the world’s population is asexual; this is based on a survey carried out by Kinsey and is not held to be conclusive. Some asexuals do experience arousal and may or may not masturbate. Some asexuals even have sex, often as a concession within a relationship. However, many asexuals are repulsed by the idea of engaging in sex personally, or feel that it wouldn’t be ‘natural’ for them. This does not necessarily mean that they hold negative opinions about sex in general, but it may influence their relationships.


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