Raise your hand if you’ve ever heard someone address another person as “a gay” or “a transgender”.
By suffixing ‘a’ before a person’s gender or sexual identity, the person is reduced to their sexuality, rather than using sexuality as one of their many possible descriptors.
June is “Pride Month”, which means taking a positive stand and ending discrimination against those who aren’t ‘straight’ – aka the lesbian-gay-bisexual-transgender-queer (LGBTQ) community. So, this pride month, get a ‘prideducation’ and get your terms up to date!
What Is LGBTQ?
The acronym represents different sexual orientations of people and also goes beyond sexual identities to their gender and personal identities.
Those were fairly straightforward, but some are not so ensconced in everyday language.
‘Transgender’, for example, denotes a person’s gender, not their sexual identity. Someone who is transgender may not necessarily take hormones or undergo procedures to change their gender, nor does the word indicate any particular orientation.
The term can also be used by those who see themselves as outside the man/woman binary.
‘Transgender’ is not to be confused with ‘transsexual’, which refers to people that feel a disconnect with their birth gender and choose to transition to the gender they identify with.
‘Queer’ does not refer to a person’s sexual orientation, but can be used to describe people who don’t conform to traditional gender identities in some way.
Various forms of discrimination against people in the community saw them reclaiming the term and associating it with multiple aspects of identity.
Terms Indians Use and Misuse
These are the terms more prevalent in India and used colloquially.
Hijrah is a Persian word loosely translating to eunuch, but not all hijras are necessarily castrated.
Eunuch can also refer to those who are intersex or have ambiguously male-like genitals at birth.
Moving Beyond LGBTQ
These are the identities that are not in the LGBTQ acronym, but are very much a part of the diverse spectrum of gender.
Drag King has the same definition as Drag Queen, only replaced by a woman appearing as a man.
The term ‘cross-dresser’ has replaced the derogatory term ‘transvestite’ which was used to denote a mental health disorder and was seen as a derogatory term.
These identities are for those who do not see their sexual orientation as any one particular box to tick. They can identify with all genders or with none.
In their romantic and sexual affections, they form attachment regardless of gender.
The difference between ‘gender fluid’ and ‘non-binary’ is that the former can identify as either of the genders while the latter is someone who doesn’t see themselves fitting into the gender constructs for women or men.
Not to be confused with someone who is bisexual because someone who is pansexual can have romantic and sexual affections for a transperson, as well as women and men.
The Odd One Out
Cis-gender is a term used to call attention to the privilege of people who are not transgender and the cis- prefix means “on the side of”.
Don’t make the mistake of believing that these are the only terms one can use for members of the community. These are just the most commonly used (and often, unfortunately, misused) ones. Just make sure to educate yourself so as not to misuse a term and thereby mis-identify someone.
Source: LGBTQIA Resource Centre
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