Month: January 2015

LGBT A to Z: A Crash Course

Welcome to a very brief, limited, crash course list of common LGBT terms and identities. Before going through this list, it may be helpful to check out our previous post on gender. Gender can be super complicated, but to understand the following terms and identities, you need to have a basic understanding of it.

This list is not exhaustive, but is is a basic list of common terms and identities.

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

Ally: Any person who supports and stands up for the rights of LGBT people.

Bisexual: A person who is attracted to both people of their own gender and another gender. Also called “bi”.

Cisgender: Refers to people whose sex assignment at birth corresponds to their gender identity and expression.

FTM: Abbreviation for female-to-male transgender or transsexual person.

Gay: A person who is attracted primarily to members of the same sex. Although it can be used for any sex (e.g. gay man, gay woman, gay person), “lesbian” is sometimes the preferred term for women who are attracted to women.

Heterosexual: A person who is only attracted to members of the opposite sex. Also known as “straight.”

Homosexual: A clinical term for people who are attracted to members of the same sex. Some people find this term offensive.

Intersex: Someone whose sex a doctor has a difficult time categorizing as either male or female. A person whose combination of chromosomes, hormones, internal sex organs, and/or genitals differs from one of the two expected patterns.

Lesbian: A woman who is primarily attracted to other women.

MTF: Abbreviation for male-to-female transgender or transsexual person.

Queer: An umbrella term sometimes used by LGBTQA people to refer to the entire LGBT community. It is also an alternative that some people use to “queer” the idea of the labels and categories such as lesbian, gay, bisexual, etc. It is important to note that the word queer is an in-group term, and a word that can be considered offensive to some people, depending on their generation, geographic location, and relationship with the word.

Questioning: For some individuals, this is the process of exploring and discovering one’s own sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.

Pansexual: A person who experiences sexual, romantic, physical, and/or spiritual attraction for members of all gender identities/expressions, not just people who fit into the standard gender binary (i.e. men and women).

Sexual orientation: The type of sexual, romantic, and/or physical attraction someone feels toward others. Often labeled based on the gender identity/expression of the person and who they are attracted to.

Transgender: This term has many definitions. Sometimes used as an umbrella to describe anyone whose identity or behavior falls outside of stereotypical gender norms. More narrowly defined, it refers to an individual whose gender identity does not match their assigned birth gender. Being transgender does not imply any specific sexual orientation (attraction to people of a specific gender.) Therefore, transgender people may additionally identify with a variety of other sexual identities as well.

Transsexual: A person whose gender identity is different from their biological sex, who may undergo medical treatments to change their biological sex, often times to align it with their gender identity, or they may live their lives as another sex.

Gender is Complicated

Gender is complicated. I’ll do my best to explain.

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For many people, the terms “gender” and “sex” are used interchangeably. We rarely think twice that the terms are used as one in the same. We are born as male or female (with the exception of those born intersex, which could be an entire blog post in itself), and are sent out in the world to live up to society’s expectations of what it means to be male and female. Yet biological sex and gender are different; gender is not inherently or exclusively connected to an individual’s physical anatomy.

Biological Sex vs. Gender

Biological sex includes your physical anatomy, sex chromosomes, sex hormones, and reproductive structures. At birth, it is used to assign sex – to identify individuals as male or female. Gender is much more complicated. It is the complex relationship between an individual’s sex, the internal sense of self as male, female, both or neither, and the outward presentations and behaviors related to that perception. Together, the intersection of these  dimensions produces an individual’s authentic sense of gender – both in how people experience their own gender and how others perceive it.

Terms & Definitions

Gender Expression: Refers to the ways in which we each manifest masculinity or femininity. It is usually an extension of our gender identity, our innate sense of being male, female, etc. Each of us expresses a particular gender every day by the way we style our hair, select our clothing, or even the way we stand. Our appearance, speech, behavior, movement, and other factors signal that we feel and wish to be understood as masculine or feminine, or as a man or a woman.

Gender Identity: The sense of being male, female, genderqueer, agender, etc. For some people, gender identity is in accord with physical anatomy. For transgender people, gender identity may differ from physical anatomy or expected social roles. It is important to note that gender identity, biological sex, and sexual orientation are separate and that you cannot assume how someone identifies in one category based on how they identify in another category.

Gender Normative: A person who by nature or by choice conforms to gender based expectations of society.

Gender Role: This is the set of roles, activities, expectations and behaviors assigned to females and males by society. Our culture recognizes two basic gender roles: Masculine (having the qualities attributed to males) and feminine (having the qualities attributed to females). People who step out of their socially assigned gender roles are sometimes referred to as transgender. Other cultures have three or more gender roles.

Genderqueer: A term which refers to individuals or groups who queer or problematize the hegemonic notions of sex, gender and desire in a given society. Genderqueer people possess identities which fall outside of the widely accepted sexual binary (i.e. “men” and “women”). Genderqueer may also refer to people who identify as both transgendered AND queer, i.e. individuals who challenge both gender and sexuality regimes and see gender identity and sexual orientation as overlapping and interconnected.

The Inaugural Post.

BECAUSE I AM FEMALE:

My name is Amanda Dee.

I am a student. I am a writer.

I am a female:

That’s who I am when I first meet someone. Walk into a classroom. Write my name.

Sometimes, it’s conscious. Sometimes, it’s unconscious. But, my experiences on campus and in life are different from a male’s nonetheless. They could be seemingly harmless assumptions about my favorite colors, TV shows, bands. They could be dangerous assumptions about my value as a human being.  Regardless of their nature, these assumptions surround me and shape me — even if I don’t want them to.

This blog is a platform to speak to these differences. It is not meant to incite controversy, but it is meant to start conversations about issues that might be difficult to talk about. It is meant to give UD women — foreign, domestic, white, black, straight, queer — a chance to express their individual experiences on campus.

We just want you to be heard.