If you’ve ever seen the expansive LGBTQQIA+ acronym, you may be wondering, “What do all those letters mean?”
The acronym for sexual and gender identity has gone through a lot of changes since its initial adoption in the 1990s. Originally, ‘gay’ was used as an umbrella term to refer to the community, but the acronym LGBT was widely adopted in the ‘90s.
‘L’ stands for lesbian, a woman who attracted to other women, ‘G’ is for gay, meaning men attracted to other men. ‘B’ stands for bisexual, meaning a person attracted to more than one gender, and ‘T’ stands for transgender, meaning a person whose gender identity is different from the one they were assigned at birth.
Those four letters made up the initial base of the LGBT acronym for the community, but with the broad spectrum of sexuality and gender identity, more letters have been added.
One or two ‘Q’s can stand for queer and questioning. Queer as an identity has been the subject of some controversy since its adoption as an umbrella term for non-straight non-cis-gendered people. Initially used as a slur, in recent years, it’s been reclaimed by the community. Questioning is precisely what it sounds like; people who exploring their gender and sexual identity.
An ‘I’ is used for intersex people, those who are born with sexual anatomy that doesn’t fit the standard of male or female. In most cases, intersex children are assigned a sex and gender at birth, and sometimes doctors will perform surgeries to conform the body to the binary of male or female. Intersexuality can take many forms, with both external and internal organs being outside the definition of usual.
‘A’ stands for asexual, people on the asexual or aromantic spectrum. Those folks experience little to no sexual or romantic attraction to one or more genders, and asexuality is used as an umbrella term for those on the ace spectrum.
Some versions of the acronym use an additional ‘A’ for ally, but the textbook definition of an ally is a noun describing those who take action. Ally is not an identity that you are born with in the same way as being queer, intersex, ace, or trans.
A full acronym is nearly impossible to make with the amount of variation on gender and sexual identity. Most acronyms will have a plus sign on the end to denote any identities not outright named, and there’s a broad spectrum within the identities.
Next week we’ll break down the differences and debunk some myths on pansexuality and bisexuality!
Jayme D. Tucker is a journalist, writer, and performer settled on unceded Syilx territory. They're queer, tall, and tired of answering all the same token questions when they come out; So they're answering those questions and more for thehub.LGBT Kelowna. They've written for Daily Hive Calgary, won a scholarship for fiction writing with Eat North, and is the founder of The Queer Agenda, a non-profit social group focused on sober friendly, all-ages networking for LGBTQ2IA+ individuals (currently on COVID hiatus).