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Understanding the acronym

The queer community is always evolving and always making space for more queer identities. The acronym is reflective of that. You’ve probably heard the term LGBT or LGBTQ+. However, the current acronym that is preferred by many is LGBTQ2SIA+. This stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Two-Spirit, Intersex, Asexual, Plus. This can feel like a lot to remember, so let’s walk through the acronym and explore what each word means.

Lesbian: This has historically been defined as women who only have attraction to other women. But it has been redefined to include non-binary people, transmasculine folks, and other non-men who are attracted to non-men.

Gay: Historically, this has meant men who are attracted to men. Similar to the label lesbian, it now includes people across the gender spectrum. It is also sometimes used by anyone who is queer to mean not heterosexual.

Bisexual: This means an attraction to more than one gender. There has been controversy over this label, as it used to mean being attracted to both men and women, ignoring people who exist outside of the gender binary. Now it is commonly accepted that “bisexual” means attraction to multiple genders, and the definitions may change slightly from person to person.

Transgender: A person who does not identify with the gender that was assigned to them at first. It is an umbrella term that includes trans, non-binary, agender, and other gender identities.

Queer: An umbrella term for anyone who is not cisgender and heterosexual. Many people prefer this term as it feels more all-encompassing.

Two-Spirit: A gender identity outside of the gender binary, specific to certain queer, Indigenous folks.

Intersex: Someone born with sexual anatomy that does not exist within the binary of male or female.

Asexual: A person who doesn’t experience sexual attraction. They may or may not still feel romantic attraction. There are also aromantic people who experience sexual attraction but no romantic attraction. Both of these exist on a spectrum and these identities don’t have to be all or nothing.

Plus: There are endless more queer identities that fall under this category.

The reason that the “L” comes before the “G” in the acronym is quite significant to queer history. When the gay rights movement was starting, lesbians were very commonly ignored, or misrepresented/underrepresented. When the AIDS crisis started, many lesbians were not affected in the same way gay men were. Because many people were afraid of this illness, some medical professionals wouldn’t even go near AIDS patients. It was not uncommon for lesbians to step in and take care of the gay men they knew, in solidarity with them. Out of a sign of appreciation and respect, the “L” was put first.

LGBTQ2SIA+is the acronym that is being used currently; however, it is always changing and evolving as space is made for more people.

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