Most people are familiar with the term LGBT – referring to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender, respectively. This expression is widely known, not only on Cal Poly’s campus, but nationally as well.
But with trends constantly changing, LGBT has become an outdated acronym, and it can be difficult to keep up-to-date on the terms used. Never fear, this guide will assist in updating Cal Poly on the new lingo.
The Cal Poly Pride Center recently had the first of its Queer Faith and Spirituality Dialogue series. The topic for this discussion was Gay or God?, leading to a discussion of people who struggle with accepting their sexual orientation based on conflicting traditional religious values.
After the dialogue series and a front-page Mustang News article discussing the topic, students on campus were more interested in learning about the different aspects within the LGBT community.
“I personally think I understand most of the identifiers in the LGBT community,” child development freshman Maddy Ciulla said. “However, I think Cal Poly as a whole, especially within religious groups, is largely oblivious of these labels and the diversity of sexual orientations.”
All the information below is from Jules Bertrand, a mathematics junior who spends time in the Pride Center:
Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender: These four terms are the most commonly known. Gay doesn’t only refer to a homosexual male or female, but also a man whose emotional, romantic or sexual energy is geared toward other men. Similarly, a woman whose emotional, romantic or sexual energy is geared toward other women classifies a lesbian. A person who identifies themselves as bisexual is attracted to both men and women. Often confused with transsexual, bisexual and transvestite, a transgender person is one whose assigned sex (their anatomical identification as male, female or intersex) doesn’t match one’s gender identity. They desire to become the person that they most identify with, psychologically and spiritually.
Questioning, intersex and asexual: These three identifiers have recently been added to the familiar LGBT acronym, resulting in LGBTQIA. Questioning is exactly what it sounds like, questioning your sexuality. More specifically, it refers to a person re-examining their previously assumed orientation or gender identity. Intersex is not a synonym for bisexuality or an alternative to identifying as a male or female. It is a biological attribute of being intermediate between male and female. Asexuality – also referred to as ace — is becoming more acknowledged in today’s society. In 2010, a campaign for greater awareness of those who classify as asexual — those who do not experience sexual attraction — was targeted toward the LGBT community (http://asexualawarenessweek.com/). After three years of fighting and collaborating for awareness, an international coordinated Asexual Awareness Week was determined for October 20-26, 2013.
Omnisexual and pansexual: Though both terms are often used interchangeably, they do not mean the same thing. Those who are omnisexual are romantically, emotionally and sexually attracted to others, regardless of sex and/or gender expression. Pansexual is similar, but is distinguished by a deeper level of romance. Those who classify as pansexual are romantically attracted to whomever they feel a close desire with, regardless of gender or sexual orientation.
Transsexual, two-spirit persons and straight allies: Transsexual is not the same as transgender. A transsexual person is one who wishes to be considered by society as a member of the opposite sex. Two-spirit persons is not a term commonly used in society, but is an umbrella term for various cultural roles. It is originally derived from the Native American traditions, where they were not limited to two specific genders, but had a third gender role. Straight allies, straight people who work for and support gay rights, is a simple term to understand.
Queer and genderqueer: Before the turn of the century, the word queer was used in a derogative sense. But today, the term is a nice, inclusive and vague term for anyone and everyone in the gender sexuality and romantic minorities. Genderqueer, or non-binary, is a category for gender identities beyond the familiar male and female. It can also reach out to those who are gender fluid, meaning they fluctuate between genders.
By learning the correct meanings of each of these identifiers, you can stay up-to-date with the LGBT community.