There are countless different sexual identities and sexualities, which usually defines what gender or genders a person is attracted to. There are also different terms that define a person within the LGBTQ+ community. Although it is often called LGBT, LGBTQ+ is more inclusive to the many different sexualities that aren’t defined by just an acronym. These definitions include, but are not limited to:
- Lesbian: a woman who is physically and romantically attracted to women. (note: some lesbians may also define themselves as “gay”
- Gay: a person who is physically and romantically attracted to their same gender, though it’s usually used to describe men
- Bisexual: a person who is attracted to more than one sex (note: although it has typically been thought that bisexual people are attracted to both men and women, gender has proven that it isn’t restricted to just men and women, so this definition has been proven to be more appropriate)
- Asexual: a person who usually feels no sexual attraction and has little to no desire to have a sexual relationship (note: there are some asexuals that do have sex, as there are many different subsets of asexuality, but this is the most common definition)
- Queer: used as an umbrella term for LGBTQ+ and is used to define anyone who has a fluid gender identity or sexual orientation. Sometimes used interchangeably with the term LGBTQ+ (note: it’s important to remember that there has been a history of controversiality with this word. Do not use it to describe someone if they haven’t expressed that they accept the term, as it can be offensive to some individuals)
- Pansexual: a person who is attracted to all gender possibilities, and often are more interested in the personality than the gender. Some use it interchangeably with bisexuality, but it more accurately is focused on looking farther than gender
- Kinsey Scale: a scale created by Alfred Kinsey to define one’s sexuality on a scale of one to six. One is completely heterosexual and six is completely homosexual, making it a useful tool for bisexuality and sexual preference.
- Closeted: describes a person who isn’t open about their sexuality
- Coming Out: the process of understanding and accepting one’s self and eventually, if desired, telling others about their sexuality or gender
In recent years, it has been more and more accepting to be a gender that doesn’t necessarily fit into the binary of male and female. Although there is still a societal pressure to fit into these two categories, it’s been proven by scientists and other professionals that gender is on a spectrum, therefore warranting the possibility of not feeling completely male or completely female. Before going into the different genders, there are some definitions that are necessary to fully understand what gender is and what the fundamentals of gender are:
- Gender: a socially constructed concept of what is appropriate for men and women to do, say, and enjoy. Gender is completely cultural and not biological.
- Sex: a term that biologically puts males and females into different groups. Sex is completely biological.
- Gender Identity: how a person sees themselves on a gender scale, although it may or may not match their sex at birth. Allows for there to be more than two genders. (note: it’s important to respect everyone’s gender identity and refer to them as the proper gender, as well as using proper pronouns)
- Gender Expression: how an individual expresses their gender, whether it be their socially constructed gender or the gender that they identify with (note: could possibly not correlate with their gender identity)
- Especially in recent years, many individuals have come out as genders that don’t fit the gender binary. Although there are many, here are some of the most common, as well as terms that are generally used when discussing gender:
- Transgender: often used as an umbrella term, transgender simply means that one’s gender identity differs from the sex that was assigned to them when they were born
- Intersex: a person who is sex ambiguous due to genetic, hormonal, or anatomical variations or mutations
- Androgynous: identifying or physically appearing to be neither male or female
- Cisgender: a person’s gender identity correlates to what sex they were assigned at birth
- Gender-fluid: someone who doesn’t identify with any fixed gender
- Genderqueer: someone who’s gender is fluid, whether that be not conforming to male or female, switching from one to the other, or neither
- Transition: a general term for the steps taken to alter one’s sex