The guide to terminology

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The LGBTQ movement has allowed people from all over the world to question the norms that society binds them in, the norms of gender, sexuality, and self-expression. It is an important human rights issue of our times and is not limited to people who identify as being on the spectrum.

Those of us who do not identify as LGBTQ but support the efforts being made to advance their rights and social acceptance, are known as “allies”. It is important, as an ally, to understand the basic concepts and terminology related to the community- this comes in handy during discussions and conversations, to dispel myths etc. (Note- this list is not exhaustive)

To start with, there are three spectrums to keep in mind- biological sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity - all of them different from each other.

Biological Sex- the sex that was assigned to you at birth based on your genitals. This could be male, female or intersex.

Intersex refers to people who are born with sexual characteristics or chromosomes that do not fit into the strict category of male or female.

Gender- 
Gender identity refers to how a person sees their own gender. This may align with the sex they were assigned at birth, or it may not.

Cis-Gender-
Refers to people that have the same gender identity as the sex they were assigned at birth. This is most of the population.

Transgender- 
People who have a different gender identity than what they were assigned at birth.
A person who was assigned male at birth might grow up and transition to being a woman, to make their body align with their psychological gender. However, not all transgender persons transition surgically.

Genderqueer -
People who reject the gender binary and traditional categories of gender. Gender is eventually a spectrum and a social construct, so certain people might have fluid identities related to their gender- it might be neither male nor female, or both male and female. It can keep changing with time.

Sexual Orientation- 
Sexual orientation refers to how a person sees their own sexuality. It has to do with who they are attracted to.

Lesbian - A woman who is romantically/sexually attracted to other women.

Gay- A man who is romantically/sexually attracted to other men.

Bisexual - A person who is attracted romantically/sexually to both men and women.

Pansexual- A person who is attracted to people regardless of gender identity or biological sex. People who identify as pansexual reject the gender binary and embrace attraction to human beings for who they are. ‘Pan’ is a Greek term meaning ‘All’.

Asexual- A person who does not experience sexual attraction to other people.

Queer- an umbrella term for people on the LGBTQIA+ spectrum! This was once considered a slur or derogatory term.

Written by:Indraja Saroha

Indraja is a sex positivity activist and aspiring filmmaker. She promotes comprehensive sex education and open dialogue about sexuality issues on her YouTube channel, Liberating Sexuality.

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