Pardon the Glossolalia… Are you down with the LQP?

2 May

It’s part of our explanation of who we are: “We are academics and queer theorists. In that, we understand that sometimes we use language in a way that does not fit popular definitions or understandings.” However, if we insist that all visitors and contributors “be explicit” in the use of terms, I think it wise to attempt to come to some agreement upon what these terms mean. Therefore, realizing that we have been using words but may not have been providing that which is needed in order to critique our contributions, I have attempted to assemble a glossary that I hope will be useful for those in the capstone as well as those who are just passing through as we find our way.

This glossary should be, must be, a living document; it should in no way be misinterpreted as the all-inclusive, definitive authority on meanings or interpretations – that would be impossible. Please feel free to interrogate the concepts, clarify the ‘definitions,’ and/or refocus the connotations as you see fit. Did I miss something? Please, let me know. After all, we are all finding our way, but if you don’t know what I am saying or vice versa… we might have an issue or two as we move forward – that is, assuming we can agree on which way is forward…

Therefore, I humbly submit my current linguistic mapping of the terrain – a non-exhaustive…

 

Living Queer Primer

Aromantic

An individual who experiences little or no romantic attraction to others – whereas romantic people have an emotional need to be with another person in a romantic relationship, aromantics often feel no need to advance relationships beyond friendship. Aromantics do not lack emotional/personal connection, but simply have no instinctual need to further these connections into something of a romantic nature.

 Asexual

An individual who does not experience sexual attraction may self-identify as asexual. Unlike celibacy, which people choose, asexuality is intrinsic. There is considerable diversity among the asexual community; each asexual person experiences relationships, attraction, and arousal somewhat differently.

VARIATIONS: A-sexy

Biphobia

Fear or hatred of bisexuals, sometimes manifesting in discrimination, isolation, harassment, or violence. Often biphobia is based on inaccurate stereotypes, including associations with infidelity, promiscuity, and transmission of sexually transmitted diseases. See also homophobia, transphobia

 

Biromantic

An individual who is romantically attracted to members of both sexes. Biromantic asexuals seek romantic relationships for a variety of reasons, including companionship, affection, and intimacy; however, they do not desire sex with their romantic partner.

 

Bisexual

An individual whose enduring physical, romantic, emotional, and/or spiritual attraction is to people of more than one sex/gender. While some people call themselves pansexual or omnisexual, these terms should be avoided unless quoting someone who self-identifies that way.

            VARIATIONS: Fluid, ambisexual, pansexual

            AVOID: Bi-sexual, fence sitters, switch hitters, “try”-sexual

 

Cisgendered

Describes people who identify with the sex they were assigned at birth. See also gender-variant

Closeted

Describes people who are not open about their sexual orientation and/or gender identity. Note, though, that for a transgender person, being closeted is different from passing as one’s preferred gender, which does not have the negative connotation of hiding something (see passing below).

 

Cross-Dresser, Transvestite

An individual who occasionally wears clothes traditionally associated with people of a different sex. Cross-dressers are usually comfortable with the sex they were assigned at birth and do not wish to change it. “Cross-dresser” should NOT be used to describe someone who has transitioned to live full-time as a different sex, or who intends to do so in the future. Some people prefer to use the term transvestite to describe themselves, but it is not universally accepted and should be avoided unless quoting someone who self-identifies that way. See also gender expression

 

Demisexual

An individual who does not experience sexual attraction until they form a strong emotional connection with someone, often (but not always) in a romantic relationship. When a demisexual is emotionally connected to (usually in love with but sometimes feel strongly as friends) someone else, the demisexual experiences sexual attraction and desire, but only toward the specific partner or partners.

 

Different-Sex Couple

A romantic pairing involving two people of different sexes. The individuals involved may identify with any sexual orientation.

            AVOID: Opposite-sex couple, straight couple, heterosexual couple

 

Drag Queen, Drag King

An individual who wears clothes traditionally associated with people of a different sex primarily as a costume or persona, usually in the context of a public event or performance. The outfits of drag queens/kings often include elements that are exaggerated or over the top, such as elaborate gowns or fake facial hair. See also gender expression

 

Dyke

Traditionally a pejorative term, dyke has been reclaimed by many lesbian and bisexual women to describe themselves. Some value the term for its defiance. Nevertheless, it is not universally accepted and should be avoided unless quoting someone who self-identifies that way.

            VARIATIONS: Bi dyke

Gay

An individual whose enduring physical, romantic, emotional, and/or spiritual attraction is to people of the same sex. The term usually applies specifically to men. In contemporary contexts, lesbian is often a preferred term for women, though some women of color, working-class women, and older women still describe themselves as gay. Avoid using gay as a collective adjective when LGBT would be more accurate (for example, LGBT movement rather than gay movement).

            VARIATIONS: Man-loving man

            AVOID: Homosexual, fag

 

Gender Identity

One’s internal, personal sense of being male, female, or third-gender. For transgender and third- gender people, their birth-assigned sex and their own internal sense of gender identity do not match.

 

Gender Identity Disorder (GID)

A controversial DSM-IV diagnosis given to transgender and other gender-variant people. Because it labels people as “disordered,” gender identity disorder is often considered offensive. Replaces the outdated term gender dysphoria.

 

Gender Expression

External manifestation of one’s gender identity, usually expressed through “masculine,” “feminine,” or gender-variant behavior (including interests and mannerisms), clothing, haircut, voice, or body characteristics.

 

Gender-variant

Refers to anyone whose gender identity varies from the male/female binary, including transgender and third-gender people.

 

Gray-A

People who identify as gray-A can include, but are not limited to those who:

  • do not normally experience sexual attraction, but do experience it sometimes
  • experience sexual attraction, but a low sex drive
  • are technically sexual, but feel that it’s not an important part of their lives and don’t identify with standard sexual culture
  • experience sexual attraction and drive, but not strongly enough to want to act on them
  • are functionally asexual and experience sexual feelings but do not engage in them
  • people who can enjoy and desire sex, but only under very limited and specific circumstances
  • people who experience some parts of sexuality but not others

 

Heteronormativity                                            

The set of power relations that normalize and regiment sexuality, marginalizing everything outside the ideals of heterosexuality, monogamy, and gender conformity.

 

Heteroromantic

An individual who is romantically attracted to a member of the opposite sex. Heteroromantic asexuals seek romantic relationships for a variety of reasons, including companionship, affection, and intimacy; however, they do not desire sex with their romantic partner.

 

Heterosexism; Heterosexual Privilege

Heterosexism is the attitude that heterosexuality is the only valid sexual orientation. It often takes the form of ignoring asexuals, bisexuals, gay men, and lesbians. Heterosexual privilege refers to the benefits granted automatically to heterosexual people that are denied to asexuals, bisexuals, gay men, and lesbians. Bisexuals are sometimes accused of hiding behind “heterosexual” privilege when they are in different-sex couples.

 

Heterosexual

An individual whose enduring physical, romantic, emotional, and/or spiritual attraction is to people of a different sex.

            VARIATIONS: Straight

Homophobia

Fear or hatred of lesbians and gay men, sometimes manifesting in discrimination, isolation, harassment, or violence. Prejudice is usually a more accurate description of hatred or antipathy toward LGBT people. See also biphobia, transphobia

 

Homoromantic

An individual who is romantically attracted to a member of the same sex. Homoromantic asexuals seek romantic relationships for a variety of reasons, including companionship, affection, and intimacy; however, they do not desire sex with their romantic partner.

 

Intersex; Person with Intersex

Describes a person whose biological sex is ambiguous. There are many genetic, hormonal, or anatomical variations that can make a person’s sex ambiguous (such as Klinefelter Syndrome or adrenal hyperplasia).

            VARIATIONS: Disorder of sex development; person with an intersex condition

AVOID: Hermaphroditism; hermaphrodite

 

Lesbian

A woman whose enduring physical, romantic, emotional, and/or spiritual attraction is to other women.

            VARIATIONS: Woman-loving woman

AVOID: Homosexual

 

LGBT

Acronym for “lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender.” LGBT and/or GLBT are often used because they are more inclusive of the diversity of the community.

            VARIATIONS: GLBT, BGLT, LGBTQ (Queer), LGBTQQ (Queer, Questioning),  LGBTQQIA (Queer, Questioning, Intersex, Allies – but also includes Same Gender  Loving, Two Spirit, Asexual, Pansexual, and Poly-amorous.)

 

Marriage Equality

Access to civil marriage regardless of sexual orientation and/or gender identity. If necessary to distinguish between different types of rights, benefits, etc., use same-sex marriage and different-sex marriage. However, because some same-sex couples are seeking access to an existing structure rather than trying to create a new one, it is preferable to refer to marriage equality whenever possible.

            AVOID: Gay marriage

MSM

Men who have sex with men. This term is used, particularly in research, to describe sexual behavior as distinct from sexual orientation.

 

MSMW

Men who have sex with men and women. This term is used, particularly in research, to describe sexual behavior as distinct from sexual orientation.

 

Openly Asexual/Bisexual/Gay/Lesbian/Transgender

Describes people who self-identify as asexual/bisexual/gay/lesbian/transgender in their public and/or professional lives. Unless the openness is important in context, it is preferable simply to describe the person as asexual, bisexual, gay, lesbian, or transgender.

 

Out/Coming Out/Outing

Being out describes a person who is open about being asexual, bisexual, gay, lesbian, or transgender. Coming out is a lifelong process of self-acceptance of one’s sexual orientation and/or gender identity. People forge an identity first to themselves and then may reveal it to others. Publicly identifying one’s sexual orientation and/or gender identity may or may not be part of coming out. Outing is the act of publicly declaring or revealing another person’s sexual orientation (sometimes based on rumor and/or speculation) without that person’s consent; it is considered inappropriate by a large portion of the LGBT community.

Passing

When applied to a transgender person, describes someone living as her/his preferred gender without (or rarely) being questioned. However, when applied to an asexual, bisexual, gay, or lesbian person, the word takes on a negative connotation (see also closeted).

 

Queer

Traditionally a pejorative term, queer has been appropriated by some LGBT people to describe themselves. Some value the term for its defiance and because it can be inclusive of the entire LGBT community. Nevertheless, it is not universally accepted even within the LGBT community and should be avoided unless quoting someone who self-identifies that way.

 

Questioning

Refers to people who are uncertain as to their sexual orientation and/or gender identity. They are often seeking information and support during this stage of their identity development.

 

Same-Sex Couple

A romantic pairing involving two people of the same sex. The individuals involved may identify with any sexual orientation.

            AVOID: Gay couple, lesbian couple, homosexual couple

Sex

The classification of people as male or female. At birth, infants are assigned a sex based on a combination of bodily characteristics, including chromosomes, hormones, internal reproductive organs, and genitals. See also intersex

 

Sex-positive

An ideology in which all forms and expressions of sexuality are viewed as potentially positive forces as long as they remain consensual.

 

Sex Reassignment Surgery (SRS)

Refers to surgical alteration for transgender people (see transition). Not all transgender people choose to or can afford to have SRS.

            AVOID: Sex change operation

Sexual Orientation

The scientifically accurate term for an individual’s enduring physical, romantic, emotional, and/or spiritual attraction to members of the same and/or different sex, including asexual, bisexual, gay, heterosexual, and lesbian orientations. Also note that gender identity and sexual orientation are not the same; transgender people may be asexual, bisexual, gay, heterosexual, or lesbian.

            AVOID: Lifestyle, sexual preference

Third-Gender, Genderqueer

Refers to people who identify their gender as not conforming to the traditional western model of gender as binary. They may identify their gender as combining aspects of women and men or as being neither women nor men.

            VARIATIONS: Androgynous, androgyne, polygender

Transgender; Transgender Person

An umbrella term for people whose gender identity and/or gender expression differs from the sex they were assigned at birth. Transgender people may or may not choose to alter their bodies hormonally and/or surgically. The term may include but is not limited to transsexuals, third- gender/genderqueer people, cross-dressers, and other gender-variant people. Use the descriptive terms (transgender, transsexual, cross-dresser, female-to-male [FTM], trans man, male-to-female [MTF], trans woman) and pronouns preferred by the individual.

            AVOID: She-male, he-she, it, trannie, tranny, gender-bender

Transition

The multi-step process of altering one’s birth sex over a long period of time. The cultural, legal, and medical adjustments made as part of transitioning may include telling one’s family, friends, and/or co-workers; using different pronouns to describe oneself; changing one’s name and/or sex on legal documents; beginning hormone therapy; and/or possibly (though not always) undergoing some form of surgical alteration.

            AVOID: Sex change; pre-operative, post-operative

Transphobia

Fear or hatred of transgender people, sometimes manifesting in discrimination, isolation, harassment, or violence. See also biphobia, homophobia

 

Transsexual

An older term which originated in the medical and psychological communities. Many transgender people prefer the term “transgender” to “transsexual.” Some transsexual people still prefer to use the term to describe themselves. However, unlike transgender, transsexual is not an umbrella term, and many transgender people do not identify as transsexual. It is best to ask which term an individual prefers.

VARIATIONS: Transexual

Two-Spirit

A term often used in Native American/First Nation cultures to describe people whose sexual orientation and/or gender identity falls beyond binary definitions. Historically, these individuals crossed gender boundaries and were accepted (sometimes revered) by Native/First Nation cultures.

WSW

Women who have sex with women. This term is used, particularly in research, to describe sexual behavior as distinct from sexual orientation.

WSWM

Women who have sex with women and men. This term is used, particularly in research, to describe sexual behavior as distinct from sexual orientation.

ADAPTED FROM:

http://archive.glaad.org/media/guide/glossary.php

http://www.asexuality.org/wiki/index.php?title=Main_Page

http://www.sf-hrc.org/Modules/ShowDocument.aspx?documentid=989

http://www.lgbtcommunity.org.uk/glossary.html

http://lgbt.utk.edu/glossary.html

http://www.glsen.org/cgi-bin/iowa/educator/library/record/1278.html

http://www.nyu.edu/lgbt/glossary.html

http://www.trevorhoppe.com/blog/archives/2009/04/recuperating_he.html

http://oregonstate.edu/lgbtqqia/

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2 Responses to “Pardon the Glossolalia… Are you down with the LQP?”

  1. Nelson May 7, 2011 at 3:25 pm #

    This definition list is awesome! With a blog like this one and since a lot of the authors are bringing up terms and identities that may be lesser known than others, I feel it is especially important to have this resource available for folks. Even for me this past semester and year I have encountered so many unfamiliar terms (like demisexual, grey-A, a/bi/pan/queerromantic, and others), so it is great to have a list here that people can refer back to. The only thing I want to note is that I feel like “genderqueer” should have its own category, mainly since through my final project I have really gotten a much broader sense of genderqueer not being included in the trans or any other umbrella, but really being its own umbrella, housing all the non-binary gender identities. Just like transgender, I believe there are so many identities under the genderqueer umbrella (like genderfluid, genderfuck, agender, boi-just to name a few). This is, of course, my personal opinion, but I just wanted to add my thoughts on the matter. Anyway, great resource! 🙂

  2. Maria L. May 7, 2011 at 5:19 pm #

    This is definitely very helpful. We also post it on our resources tab!

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