“Openness may not completely disarm prejudice, but it’s a good place to start.”
-Jason Collins (Former professional NBA player)
Happy Pride Month! This month, June, is dedicated to the LGBTQIA2S+ community. I would like to take some time to provide some information, insights, and stories throughout this week. Collins concludes, the best place to start in countering prejudice, is to be open. When you are open to new ideas and information, you are in a good place to make informed opinions before you criticize
Today, we will start with some education about what the LGBTQIA2S+ community is! The endless amounts of letters, acronyms, and terms may seem confusing. While these terms may seem like labels to put on individuals, it is important to remember that each person has the power and right to decide their own identity. These definitions of these terms might vary from person to person depending on how they identify. If you meet someone new, give them the space to communicate to you how they personally prefer to be identified, rather than labeling them based on prejudice, stereotypes or other factors. Let’s start by defining the primary letters.
Here are some common sexualities pertaining to the 2SLGBTQ+ community.
- Gay refers to men and non-binary people who like other men and non-binary people.
- Lesbian refers to women and non-binary people who are attracted to other women and non-binary people.
- Bisexual refers to anyone who is attracted to two or more genders, sometimes with a preference.
- Pansexual refers to anyone attracted to all genders. This is different from bisexual because Pansexual people are “gender-blind”, meaning they have no preference to a specific gender.
- Asexual is an umbrella term for those who do not experience sexual attraction, but some do experience romantic attraction.
- Queer and gay can both be umbrella terms for anyone who is not heterosexual.
Next is gender identity. Did you know there is a difference between sex and gender? Sex is biological and assigned at birth, based on chromosomes, reproductive organs, and secondary sex characteristics. Gender, on the other hand, refers to socially constructed roles and characteristics that our society has associated with women, men, and non-binary people. This is an important distinction to make. For example, someone’s assigned sex may differ from their current gender. Confusing their sex with their gender could insult such individual. Like with sexuality, there are many people who feel that they cannot be restricted to one category. One’s gender identity might vary across days, weeks, or even a lifetime. Sometimes, a person might feel they identify closer to female one day, and male the other. Despite this, a person’s fluidity does not invalidate or mean their gender identity is fake.
Here are some common gender identities:
- Transgender refers to people whose gender identity differs from the sex that they were assigned at birth. For example, a female at birth may identify as male, often changing their name, pronouns, and sometimes their appearance. A trans man or woman is considered either male or female, the equal to someone who identifies with their assigned sex.
- Two-spirit is a term used solely by Indigenous people to describe their sexual, gender, and/or spiritual identity. They usually feel that they identify as both masculine and feminine spirit.
- Non-binary refers to anyone whose gender identity is neither male nor female, in between, or beyond both genders.
Now that you have a background on some sexualities and genders that are a part of the 2SLGBTQ+ community, let’s take a look at how you can respectfully communicate with them.
Pronouns are used everyday while addressing others. They are essential for communication with one another. Many people use different pronouns than the set associated with their assigned gender. It is good practice to ask someone which pronouns they use, in order to be respectful to them. Below is a great guide to using pronouns.
As well as pronouns, preferred or chosen names are new names picked by an individual to fit their gender identity and help them feel more comfortable. These can be nicknames, or short-forms of their birth name, or something completely different. By using preferred names, you are validating, and making the other feel safe, respected, and valued.
This is a lot of information to take in! One thing that stresses many people out is feeling the need to know every single definition and pronoun perfectly. If this is true for you, know that the majority of the 2SLGBTQ+ community do not expect perfection, but instead value genuine effort. You are allowed to make mistakes; this is a learning process for everyone! By trying to use a person’s correct pronouns/name, you acknowledge and see their authentic selves.
As well as our first pride month blog, we have created a glossary of terms for your reference. Once you have read the glossary, scroll to the bottom of the page to test your knowledge with our pride quiz! Test your LGBTQIA2S+ Facts >
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