LGBTQ is an acronym that stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning. While the term is not all encompassing, it gives us a great starting point to talk about the different types of romantic attraction and gender identities.
GROWING UP LGBTQ
A recent report by the Human Rights Campaign, Growing Up LGBT in America, surveyed more than 10,000 LGBT-identified youth ages 13-17. It provides a stark picture of the difficulties they face.
The reports shows that 42 percent of LGBTQ youth say the community in which they live is NOT accepting of LGBTQ people. But 75 percent of LGBTQ youth say their peers do not have a problem with their identity as LGBTQ.
WHERE TO BEGIN?
Let’s start with the heart! This is where a person’s sexual orientation is defined. Sexual orientation refers to the gender(s) to which a person is attracted. Here are some important terms to know about sexual orientation.
- Heterosexual (or straight) refers to a person who is sexually or romantically attracted to individuals of the opposite gender.
- Lesbian refers to a woman who is sexually or romantically attracted to other women.
- Gay refers to a man who is sexually or romantically attracted to other men. Gay can also be used for individuals whose sexual orientation is directed towards same sex partners.
- Bisexual refers to a person who is sexually or romantically attracted to both men and women.
- Pansexual refers to a person who is sexually or romantically attracted to others regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation.
- Asexual refers to a person with a lack of sexual or romantic attraction for anyone, or with low or absent interest in sexual activity.
Then, a person has their biological sex. Biological sex refers to the anatomy that defines us as male, female or intersex. This includes not only the internal and external sex organs, but chromosomes and hormones as well. Some important terms to know about biological sex:
- A person with two XX chromosomes is a biological female.
- A person with XY chromosomes is a biological male.
- Intersex refers to an individual who has a chromosome set different from biological males or females. This individual may develop sex or reproductive organs that are ambiguous or may develop sex characteristics of both males and females.
Gender expression is a person’s outward expression of their gender. An individual can fall on a scale of masculine, feminine, or androgynous. These are some important terms to know about gender expression.
- Masculine is an expression of traits that are associated culturally with boys and men.
- Feminine is an expression of traits that are associated culturally with girls and women.
- Androgynous is a combination of both masculine and feminine traits.
The brain is the home to gender identity. Gender identity is a person’s private and subjective sense of being a man, woman or somewhere in between. Some important terms to know about gender identity:
- Cisgender refers to a person whose gender identity conforms with the gender that corresponds to their biological sex.
- Genderqueer refers to a person whose gender identity does not strictly confirm to being either a man or a woman.
- Transgender refers to a person whose gender identity does not correspond to their biological sex.
HOW WE IDENTIFY
It is important to remember that gender identity, sexual orientation, biological sex and gender expression are all on a spectrum. While an individual may identify as one of the more recognized terms, they may also find themselves somewhere in between. These categories are also completely separate entities! No one has a direct effect on the others.
- A person who is transgender can identify as heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual or anywhere in between.
- A person who identifies as a woman and is biologically female may choose to express her gender on the scale of masculine, feminine or androgynous.
- A person whose biological sex is male can have a woman’s gender identity.
HOW TO GET HELP
Talk to a trusted adult such as a parent, physician or counselor.
Call Centerstone at (888) 291-HELP to schedule an appointment with a therapist. If you feel like you need immediate help, please call (800) 681-7444 for 24-hour Crisis Services.