I consider myself to be pretty up to date with terms associated to the ever so extensive topic of gender and sexuality. With all of the pages on Facebook, news in my mail, and— let’s be honest here— fandoms and fanfiction, I understand what someone means when they say they are genderqueer, pansexual, and aromantic.
But, quite honestly, reading Kassey Lea-Paul’s article (it’s a great piece and all of you should go read it) left me confused and speechless when it comes to the terms used (andI don’t think I’m the only one.)
And since there’s no better time than now, let me walk you through some LGBTQ+ educational trivia.
By the way, I am not an expert, I may not 100% accurate when it comes to the definitions, and I don’t include everything. Also, forgive me if the descriptions below sound crude or incomplete.
First, here are three operational words which you probably all know:
Gender = who you are; traditionally male or female, but also could be somewhere in between or none at all.
Sexuality = who you like sexually; are you attracted to men? To women? To everyone? To no one?
Romantic orientation = who you like, romantically; for example, maybe you’re sexually attracted to everyone but are more likely to fall in love with a woman than with anyone else.
And in this article, we’ll have a look at:
(Please do not pelt me with stones for the stereotypical colours.)
Looking at it from the traditional point of view, there is gender binary meaning that everyone can be split into two groups— one for masculine and one for feminine. When I was born, a doctor took a look at my tiny squirming body, said “It’s a girl!”, and assigned me that gender. As of now, I agree with him; that means that I am a cisgender: someone who identifies with their assigned gender.
But there are folks in this world who are assigned as a ‘girl’ but don’t feel like one (same for the people who are assigned as ‘boys’); those people are called transgender: a person who doesn’t agree with their assigned gender.
There is also non-binary: people who defy the gender binary because they cannot be defined within two genders only. Non-binary can also be called genderqueer.
Genderqueerness branches out into a few more kinds of gender, some of which you might have heard already. For example, there’s genderfluid: a person who moves around genders. From what I understand, sometimes they’ll feel like wearing dresses and flowers (oh, the stereotypes) and sometimes they’ll want to wear a suit and tie. There are also some folks who feel none of that, marking them genderless (or agender, genderfree and neutrois) or people without gender.
(Transgender flag, designed by trans woman Monica Helms, 1999, USA. Blue for boys, pink for girls, white “for those who are intersex, transitioning or consider themselves having a neutral or undefined gender. The pattern is such that no matter which way you fly it, it is always correct, signifying us finding correctness in our lives.” – M. Helms.)
Then comes the third gender which is any other gender than those specified; this includes those who do not wish to label their gender.
After that, we have those with two or more genders. There is bigenders(or dual gender): meaning being both feminine and masculine (some say they have two different personas, some that they have just one that is a mix of both genders), Trigender: being feminine, masculine, and third gender, and finally pangender: being everything (pan = all in Greek). Pangender people sometimes use the pronouns zie/zim instead of she/her and he/him. By the way, none of this should be confused with intersex. Intersex people are people who were born with mixed variations of both sexes’ chromosomes, gonads, genitalia or hormones.
Fewh. That’s it for gender. Questions, notes, observations, corrections?
All in all, it doesn’t matter one bit what’s called what. Respect them all while respecting yourself.