Representation of the LGBT+ community has grown in recent years yet there are still many hidden letters within this umbrella term, resulting in people’s gender expression or sexuality being underrepresented, misrepresented, or overlooked.
Reflecting the diversity of gender and sexuality, there are a variety of terms and definitions with many people identifying as more than one.
There are also people who fluctuate between sexualities or are still questioning where they fit in within the term ‘LGBT+’.
These are the hidden letters of the LGBT+ and what they mean.
A person who does not identify with a gender. This term can be associated with being genderless or gender-neutral.
An androgynous person outwardly expresses a mixture of feminine and masculine gender expressions.
This term refers to people who experience little to no romantic attraction to others. Definitions of aromantic vary from person to person, as a gesture which can appear romantic to one person changes for another.
People who show little to no sexual attraction to another person might identify as asexual. Though they identify as asexual, this does not mean they do not or cannot show romantic interest in another person.
A bigender person identifies as two genders, either simultaneously or at different times depending on the person.
A demigendered person can identify as either male or female but only in a partial way.
A demisexual person can feel sexual attraction towards another person but generally, they must have established a strong bond with the other person beforehand. In the absence of a bond or connection, a demisexual person can show traits of asexuality.
This term relates to a person whose gender identity or expression does not conform to being male or female.
Genderfluid encompasses people who shift between gender identities. They may identify or present in a variety of ways at different points.
An intersex person is born with biological characteristics which are considered ‘female’ and some that are considered ‘male.’ At times, an intersex baby will be assigned a gender at birth. Many people can go their entire life without knowing they are intersex whereas some may realise it during puberty.
A person who feels sexual attraction on very specific occasions or under specific circumstances might identify as graysexual. Depending on the occasions in which a graysexual person might feel sexual attraction, there are a variety of different subterms to reflect this.
Originally known as genderqueer, which originated from queer magazines in the 1980’s, non-binary refers to a person who does not identify as exclusively male or female. Non-binary people can go by a variety of pronouns, whether they/them or changing between she and he or variations of these.
A person who identifies as omnisexual shows sexual and/or romantic attraction to people of any gender or identity, which still play a determinant factor in the attraction.
A pangender individual reflects the multiplicity and diversity of gender identities. Pangender can be experienced simultaneously or over time. It can exist within the person’s own culture and life experience.
This term refers to a person who exhibits a sexual, emotional or romantic attraction to a person regardless of their sex or gender identity.
A polysexual person shows sexual and/or romantic attraction to people whose gender expression fits into more than two categories, such as bigender or agender people.
A person who identifies as “non-heteronormative.” This can encompass many of the sexualities and identities described here.
A person who is still exploring their sexuality or gender identity
Rooted in Native American culture, two-spirit is an umbrella term to describe people within the community who fulfil the traditional third-gender (also known as gender-variant) ceremonial role in their culture. A two-spirited individual held a significant role within the community, usually seen as the balance keeper.
No matter the letters a person is drawn to, there is validity in each experience. Everyone expresses themselves in numerous ways and each is cause for celebration. The hidden letters highlight how difference continues to empower and educate not only people outside the LGBT+ community but also within it.
© 2019 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.
GCN has been a vital, free-of-charge information service for Ireland’s LGBT+ community since 1988.
During this global COVID pandemic, we like many other organisations have been impacted greatly in the way we can do business and produce. This means a temporary pause to our print publication and live events and so now more than ever we need your help to continue providing this community resource digitally.
GCN is a registered charity with a not-for-profit business model and we need your support. If you value having an independent LGBT+ media in Ireland, you can help from as little as €1.99 per month. Support Ireland’s free, independent LGBT+ media.