Sexual Orientation and GenderThese are a few of the ways people describe who they are sexually attracted to, but by no means is this a comprehensive list. Remember, the label isn’t nearly as important as you feeling confident and secure in your sexuality.
- Ally: a person who is not LGBTQI but shows support for LGBTQI people by supporting equality.
- Asexual: someone who doesn’t feel physical attraction towards others, but who may be able to feel romantic attraction.
- Bisexual: someone attracted to both men and women.
- Heterosexual/straight: a person who is attracted to members of the opposite gender.
- Homosexual: someone who is attracted to people of their own gender identity.
- A woman who is attracted to other women might call herself gay or lesbian
- A man who is attracted to other men might call himself gay
- Pansexual: someone who is attracted to people of any gender identity, such as cisgender, genderqueer, or transgender people.
- Questioning: those who aren’t completely sure of their sexual orientation or gender identity. (Because you don’t have to be sure! These things can change over your lifetime and you don’t owe it to anyone to “decide” on what you identify as.)
The Gender SpectrumHere are a couple of the terms people use to describe their gender. There are many possibilities for gender identity and expression, and you can see the spectrum easily displayed in the Genderbread graphic below.
- Transgender: an encompassing, umbrella term of many gender identities of those who do not identify or do not exclusively identify with their sex assigned at birth. If you identify as trans, this doesn’t necessarily mean anything about your gender expression, sexual orientation, hormonal makeup, physical anatomy, or how others perceive you. Be careful not to ask those who identify as trans questions like, “Have you had a sex-change operation?” or “What is your real name?” See this article for explanations on why those questions are offensive.
- Cisgender: a term for someone who exclusively identifies as their sex assigned at birth. This term isn’t indicative of your gender expression, sexual orientation, hormonal makeup, physical anatomy, or how others perceive you.
- Androgynous: Identifying and/or presenting as between masculine and femininity, or having both feminine and masculine traits.
- Queer: A term for people of marginalized gender identities and sexual orientations who are not cisgender and/or heterosexual. It is important not to call someone “queer” without their direct permission, as this word has a complicated history as a reclaimed slur.