Let’s Talk About LGBTQQIP2SAA+
Language/Terms/Definitions & How They Matter
by Aspen Lofgren, Unspoken Voices
I was trying to make a Salt-N-Pepa,”Let’s Talk about Sex” joke starting this off, but I am not that creative. Anyways…
LGBT Pride is currently celebrated each year in the month of June to honor the 1969 Stonewall riots in Manhattan. I definitely encourage you to learn more about the Gay Liberation Movement in the US and the Stonewall riots, just so you have knowledge of the history of Pride. I was asked to write a piece about Pride and the acronym of LGBTQQIP2SAA+ and was a little hesitant.
Although I do identify as a queer cis-woman, I am always afraid of speaking incorrectly and not allowing other voices to be heard. So as a disclaimer, I am not expert of gender identity, gender expression, biological sex, or sexual orientation! The information I will be sharing is what I have found using the internet (articles, books, and websites dedicated to LGBTQ+). It is also very important to me that I share the voices of individuals of various identities—those voices will be seen in these posts.
This first post is breaking down the acronym, LGBTQQIP2SAA+. As a side note, there are different variations to the acronym so you may just see LGBTQ+. Before I get into the acronym itself, it’s important that I break down gender and sexual orientation. My favorite way of explaining these two is using the gingerbread person, created by www.ItsPronouncedMetrosexual.com. They break down gender into three categories: identity, expression and sex.
Another important aspect of all of this, is that it’s all based on a spectrum.
- Gender Identity: how you, in your head, think about yourself. It’s the chemistry that composes you and how you interpret what that means. This spectrum has “woman” on one side, “man” on the other side, and “genderqueer” in the center. Examples of gender identity are: Transgender, agender, bigender, cisgender, demigender, genderfluid, gender neutral, gender queer, intergender, non-binary, polygender, etc. Note: gender is a social construct.
- Gender Expression: how you demonstrate your gender (based on traditional gender roles) through the ways you act, dress, behave, and interact. This spectrum has “feminine” on one side, “masculine” on the other side, and “androgynous” in the center.
- Biological Sex: this refers to the objectively measurable organs, hormones, and chromosomes. Female= vagina, ovaries, XX chromosomes; male penis, testes, XY chromosomes; intersex= a combination of the two. This spectrum has “female” on one side, “male” on the other side, and “intersex” in the center
Then there’s also:
- Sexual Orientation: refers to who you are physically, spiritually, and emotionally attracted to, based on their sex/gender in relation to your own. This spectrum has “heterosexual” on one side, “homosexual” on the other side, and “bisexual” in the center.
Before I jump into the the acronym, I want to point out that definitions for each identity may vary. These are the generally-accepted definitions.
- Lesbian- Refers to women who are attracted to other women
- Gay- Refers to men who are attracted to other men
- Bisexual- Refers to someone who can be attracted to more than one gender
- Transgender- Refers to people whose sense of their own gender differs from what would be expected based on the sex characteristics with which they are born. (Note: Not everyone who identifies as trans will take hormones or have sex reassignment surgery, and some don't identify as a single gender, preferring gender-neutral pronouns such as 'they', 'them', and 'theirs').
- Queer/Questioning: Many in the LGBTQ+ community have reclaimed the term queer and use it as an umbrella term. Please be aware, some still consider it a derogatory term. Questioning is for folks who are still exploring their sexual orientation and gender identity.
- Intersex: Refers to individuals who are born with a combination of male and female biological characteristics, such as chromosomes or genitals, that can make it difficult for doctors to assign their sex as distinctly male or female. 4
- Pansexual- Refers to when you are attracted to all genders and/or do not concern gender when you are attracted towards someone. This includes attraction to people who identify as male, female, transgender, intersex, third gender, genderqueer, or anything in between
- 2S/Two-Spirit- Refers to some Native Americans who are male, female, and sometimes intersexed individuals who house both masculine and feminine spirits. 5
- Asexual: Refers to is someone who does not experience sexual attraction. Asexual people have the same emotional needs as everybody else and are just as capable of forming intimate relationships. 6
- Allies: Refers to individuals who is supportive of LGBT people. It encompasses non-LGBT allies as well as those within the LGBT community who support each other, e.g. a lesbian who is an ally to the bisexual community. 7
- + : Refers to all other sexual orientations yet to be added to the acronym, including androgynosexal, androsexual, autosexual, demisexual, graysexual, gynosexual, polysexual, skoliosexual, aromantic, etc.
1. “About | Lgbt-Pride-Month | Library of Congress.” Library of Congress, Victor, www.loc.gov/lgbt-pride-month/about/.
2. Killermann, Sam, and Social Justice Statistics. “Breaking through the Binary: Gender Explained Using Continuums.” It's Pronounced Metrosexual, 26 Dec. 2016. itspronouncedmetrosexual.com/2011/11/breaking-through-the-binary-gender-explained-using-continuums/.
3. “Transgender.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/transgender.
4. Planned Parenthood. “What Is Intersex? .” Planned Parenthood, National - PPFA, www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/sexual-orientation-gender/gender-gender-identity/whats-intersex.
5. “Who Are the Two Spirits?” Two Spirit Q & A, www.willsworld.org/twospiritq-a.html.
6. “The Asexual Visibility and Education Network.” Overview | The Asexual Visibility and Education Network, www.asexuality.org.
7. Miller, Hayley. “How to Be an LGBT Ally.” Human Rights Campaign, 7 Oct. 2005, www.hrc.org/blog/how-to-be-an-lgbt-ally.