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LGBTQ: What do those letters mean?

Beth Hess - Tuesday, August 01, 2017
This is the first in a series of articles exploring LGBTQ issues from the youth perspective. This post is contributed by Rowan Powell of  Own Our Own of Maryland’s Transitional Age Youth Outreach (TAY) Project.

As a young LGBTQ adult I spend a considerable portion of my life explaining to people what it means when I say that I identify as “Pansexual.” That no, I’m not sexually attracted to kitchenware, nor do I love Peter Pan more than most people. As someone whose job involves educating individuals on issues that face the LGBTQ community, I dedicate a large portion of my life to answering those questions, with the hope that other LGBTQ youth, who might be less confident in their sexuality, won’t have to. So why don’t we start with some of the basics?

LGBTQ: What do those letters mean?

Lesbian: A person who identifies as female and is sexually attracted to other individuals who identify as female. 

Gay: A person who identifies as male and is sexually attracted to other individuals who identify as male. Is also an umbrella term that speaks broadly about anyone who is attracted to people of the same gender. 

Bisexual: A person who is attracted to both men and women, or to individuals who have more than one gender identity. 

Transgender: Someone who identifies with a gender that is different from the one they were assigned at birth 

Queer or Questioning: Queer is a word that is being used by some to describe a person whose gender identity is not just a man or a woman. Questioning is a person who is processing or questioning and does not feel settled in their gender identity or sexual orientation. 

Additional vocabulary includes:
  • Pansexual: A person who is attracted to all genders, including people who identify as transgender, gender fluid or gender queer.
  • Cisgender: A person who identifies with the gender that they were assigned with at birth.
These are a few commonly used words. In order to be a positive support system for your child, it is valuable to understand key terms. Click here for additional terminology.

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