Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgender and Questioning

LGBTQIA+ FAQs

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LQBTQIA+ is an acronym that encapsulates a wide range of gender identities and sexual orientations that have, throughout history, experienced marginalization across society. The acronym stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning, intersex, asexual or aromantic. The + holds space for all of the other identities and orientations not encompassed in this short acronym, including Two Spirit and Pansexual.

Citizens for Choice embraces all sexual orientations and gender identities. Regardless of your sexuality or gender, you can count on us to always treat you with the respect and dignity that you deserve.

Your care at The Clinic! will always be compassionate and confidential. We are here to help you, as a human being.

Sexual Orientation: Our sexual orientation is defined by who we find attractive emotionally, romantically, or sexually. The factors which cause sexual attraction are complex and may include biology, genetic predisposition, and early formative life experiences. Many people report knowing with certainty their orientation from a very young age. Others may struggle with their sexual orientation and reach a conclusion much later in life. Regardless of your journey, whoever you are and whoever you love or are attracted to is perfectly normal.

Sex: Sex, or sex assigned at birth, refers to a medically categorized classification. An individual’s sex is often assigned based upon the appearance of their genitalia, either on an ultrasound or at birth. A person’s sex (or sex assigned at birth) is different from their gender (or gender identity).

Gender: Gender is a social construct that is used to classify a person as a man, woman, or other identity. Our gender identity is how we express ourselves, our behavior, how we act, dress, and interact with others. The gender with which we identify may or may not correspond with the sex we were assigned at birth. Although our society maintains expectations about how we ‘should’ act, feel, or look as women and men, not all people want to be labeled, and not all people feel that their gender can be confined to the female/male binary.

Do you have questions about your sexuality, orientation or gender identity? Sometimes talking with a trusted adult, such as a counselor, can be very helpful to assist you in clarifying your feelings. We all want to fit in, and need to know where and how we may do just that. At Citizens For Choice we are here for you to provide you with the support, respect, and advocacy that you deserve.

At The Clinic!, we want you to feel comfortable talking with us about your sexual orientation. It is very helpful for your health care provider to know your medical history, sexual orientation, and your concerns about your sexual health. Our goal is to provide the very best reproductive and sexual health care for you. In order to serve you best, the more honest you can be with your provider, the better your care will be. Our services are always strictly confidential.

Ally – A person who works to fight oppression and promote equality in a variety of ways. In the LGBTQIA+ community, an ally confronts the stigmas and abuse directed towards individuals based on their sexual orientation and gender identity. Allies recognize that the rights associated with sexuality and gender are human rights and that the fight for these rights is an issue of social justice.

Androgynous – Identifying and/or presenting as neither distinguishably or stereotypically masculine nor feminine, or someone who identifies their gender as both masculine and feminine.

Asexual – The lack of a sexual attraction or desire for other people. Asexuality is different from celibacy, as celibacy refers to the deliberate abstention from sexual activity, despite the presence of sexual attraction. Asexuality is abroad spectrum with wide and varying degrees and levels of attraction. For example, those who identify as asexual can still experience other forms of attraction, like romantic attraction, physical attraction, and/or emotional attraction.

Biphobia – Prejudice, fear, oppression, discrimination, or hatred directed toward those who identify as bisexual. Feelings of biphobia can be present in both the LGBTQIA+ community and broader communities.

Bisexual – A person emotionally, romantically, physically, or sexually attracted to more than one sex, gender, or gender identity though not necessarily simultaneously, in the same way, or to the same degree. Some people may use bisexual and pansexual interchangeably in self-identify

Ally – A person who works to fight oppression and promote equality in a variety of ways. In the LGBTQIA+ community, an ally confronts the stigmas and abuse directed towards individuals based on their sexual orientation and gender identity. Allies recognize that the rights associated with sexuality and gender are human rights and that the fight for these rights is an issue of social justice.

• Androgynous – Identifying and/or presenting as neither distinguishably or stereotypically masculine nor feminine, or someone who identifies their gender as both masculine and feminine.

Asexual – The lack of a sexual attraction or desire for other people. Asexuality is different from celibacy, as celibacy refers to the deliberate abstention from sexual activity, despite the presence of sexual attraction. Asexuality is abroad spectrum with wide and varying degrees and levels of attraction. For example, those who identify as asexual can still experience other forms of attraction, like romantic attraction, physical attraction, and/or emotional attraction.

Biphobia – Prejudice, fear, oppression, discrimination, or hatred directed toward those who identify as bisexual. Feelings of biphobia can be present in both the LGBTQIA+ community and broader communities.

Bisexual – A person emotionally, romantically, physically, or sexually attracted to more than one sex, gender, or gender identity though not necessarily simultaneously, in the same way, or to the same degree. Some people may use bisexual and pansexual interchangeably in self-identifying their sexuality.

Cisgender – A term used to describe a person whose gender identity aligns with those typically associated with the sex assigned to them at birth.

Closeted – Describes an LGBTQIA+ person who, for any number of reasons, has chosen not to publicly disclose their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Coming Out – The process in which a person first acknowledges, accepts, and appreciates their sexual orientation or gender identity and begins to voluntarily share that information with others.

Gay – A person who is emotionally, romantically, physically, or sexually attracted to members of the same gender.

Gender Dysphoria – Clinically significant distress caused when a person’s sex assigned at birth is not the same as the gender with which they identify. According to the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), the term, which replaces Gender Identity Disorder, “is intended to better characterize the experiences of affected children, adolescents, and adults.”

Gender-Expansive – Conveys a wider, more flexible range of gender identity and/or expression than typically associated with the binary gender system. Gender expansive individuals are those whose sexual orientation and/or gender identity is seen, in some way, to be broadening the surrounding society’s notion of gender.

Gender Expression – How one expresses their gender identity, in terms of the way in which they choose to dress, presentation of secondary sex characteristics (breasts, body hair, voice, etc.), and/or behaviors. The way in which one chooses to express their identity may or may not conform to socially defined behaviors and characteristics typically associated with being either masculine or feminine.

• Gender Fluid – A person whose gender identification and/or presentation shifts, whether within or outside of societal, gender-based expectations. Being gender fluid refers to one’s movement between two or more genders, as opposed to an identification with a single, fixed gender.

Gender Identity – One’s innermost concept of self as transgender, genderqueer, cisgender, or some other identity – how individuals perceive themselves and what they call themselves. One’s gender identity can be the same or different from their sex assigned at birth.

Gender Non-Conforming – A broad term referring to people who do not behave in a way that conforms to the traditional expectations of their gender, or whose gender expression does not fit neatly into a single, gender-based category.

Gender Queer – A person who typically rejects notions of static categories of gender and embraces a fluidity of gender identity and often, though not always, sexual orientation. People who identify as “genderqueer” may see themselves as being both male and female, neither male nor female or as falling completely outside these categories.

Gender Transition – The process, also referred to as ‘transitioning’, by which a person may strive to more closely align their internal knowledge of gender with their outward appearance. Some people socially transition, whereby they might begin dressing, using names and pronouns, and/or be socially recognized as another gender. Others undergo physical transitions in which they modify their bodies through medical interventions, including taking hormones and/or having gender confirming surgery. The nature and degree of someone’s gender transition does not make that person’s gender identity any less or more valid.

Homophobia – The fear, hatred, oppression, discrimination of, or discomfort with people who are attracted to members of the same sex.

Lesbian – A woman who is emotionally, romantically, physically, or sexually attracted to other women.

• LGBTQIA+ – An acronym used to represent the queer community. The acronym’s initials stand for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and/or Questioning, Intersex, and Asexual and/or Aromantic. The additional ‘+’ stands as a placeholder for all of the other gender identities and sexual orientations not encompassed within this short acronym. LGBTQIA+ is an umbrella term that is often used to refer to the community as a whole.

• Living Openly – A state in which LGBTQIA+ people are comfortably open about their sexual orientation or gender identity – where and when it feels appropriate to them.

Outing – Exposing someone’s gender identity to others without their permission. Outing someone can have serious repercussions on employment, economic stability, personal safety, emotional health, and/or religious or family situations.

Pansexual – Describes someone who has the potential for emotional, romantic, physical, or sexual attraction to people of any and/or all genders though not necessarily simultaneously, in the same way, or to the same degree.

Queer – An umbrella term used to describe those individuals who identify with a gender identity and/or sexual orientation that falls outside of societal norms. Historically, the word ‘queer’ has been used as an epithet or slur against the LGBTQIA+ community. In more recent years, many have reclaimed the word queer to self identify and, as a result, it is often used interchangeably with ‘LGBTQIA+’.

• Questioning – A term used to describe a person who is in the process of exploring their gender identity, gender expression, or sexual orientation.

Same-Gender Loving – A term some prefer to use to express attraction to and love of people of the same gender.

Sexual Orientation – An inherent or immutable enduring emotional, romantic, physical, or sexual attraction to other people. Sexual orientation can be either fixed or fluid, and people use a variety of labels to describe their sexual orientation.

Transgender – An umbrella term for people whose gender identity and/or expression is different from cultural expectations based on the sex they were assigned at birth. Being transgender does not imply any specific sexual orientation. Therefore, transgender people may identify as straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual, etc. While transgender may refer to a woman who was assigned male at birth or a man who was assigned female at birth, transgender can also describe someone who identifies as a gender other than woman or man, such as non- binary, genderqueer, genderfluid, no gender, multiple genders, or some other gender identity entirely.

Transphobia – The fear, hatred, oppression, discrimination of, or discomfort with, transgender people. Transphobia affects the way individuals, the government, organizations, the media, and society generally regard and treat people whose identities don’t fit into typical gender roles. Transphobia has been at the root of many of the policies that aim to take away the rights and safety of trans and nonbinary children, teens, and adults. This results in discrimination, harassment, and sometimes violence against people who are not cisgender.

Whatever your sexual identity, you deserve to have a full and satisfying life – and that includes your sexual life.  If you don’t like ‘labels’, that’s perfectly okay.  You should not feel pressured to label yourself, or decide on your sexual orientation or gender identity before you are ready.