LGBT is an abbreviation that has evolved in recent years to the longer acronym LGBTQIA+ to be inclusive of a spectrum of sexual orientations and gender identities. What each letter stands for and even what each individual term means can vary from person to person. But if you want to be more supportive of the LGBT people in your life, class and community, here’s a quick briefing on the commonly accepted meaning of each letter in LGBTQIA+
The L in LGBTQIA+ stands for “lesbian,” meaning a woman who is sexually and/or emotionally attracted to other women, though some women personally prefer the term “gay.”
The G in LGBTQIA+ stands for “gay.” In the past, this term was predominantly used for men who are sexually and/or emotionally attracted to men. However, today, “gay” can be used to refer to anyone who is attracted to their same sex or gender.
The B in LGBTQIA+ stands for “bisexual.” People who identify as bisexual are sexually and/or emotionally attracted to both men and women, or to more than one gender identity.
The T in LGBTQIA+ stands for “transgender” or “trans” for short. This term is used to describe someone whose gender identity or expression differs from what is expected based on the sex they were assigned at birth. Some people who have transitioned to their true gender choose to identify as just “male” or “female” instead of as transgender.
The Q in LGBTQIA+ stands for two things, one of them being “queer.” In the past, the word queer was used as a discriminatory slur, but the term has been reclaimed by the LGBTQIA+ community. Queer is often used as a broad term for anyone who is not straight and not cisgender. Cisgender people are those whose gender identity and expression matches the sex they were assigned at birth. Although some people proudly identify as queer, some LGBTIQA+ people still find the term offensive.
The Q in LGBTQIA+ also stands for “questioning.” Questioning refers to someone questioning their sexual orientation and/or their gender identity so they are not quite sure how to identify themselves.
The I in LGBTQIA+ stands for “intersex.” Intersex people naturally have biological traits, such as genetic, hormonal or anatomical differences, that don’t fit the typical definitions of female or male. Being intersex is not linked to sexual orientation or gender identity.
The A in LGBTQIA+ can stand for two different terms. The first is “asexual,” which is often shortened as “ace.” Individuals who identify as asexual do not experience sexual attraction or do not have an interest in or desire for sex. People of different sexual orientations and gender identities can be asexual.
The other meaning of the A in LGBTQIA+ is “ally,” which means someone who identifies as cisgender and straight but supports social and legal equality for LGBTQIA+ people.
Plus: Everything else
The plus sign is often included at the end of the acronym LGBTQIA+ to encompass anyone else who doesn’t feel included in the other categories. This includes people who identify as pansexual, demisexual or other sexual orientations and gender identities not easily summed up in one term. Teaching children to be accepting of someone regardless of how they choose to identify is how we can start in building an all-inclusive