Too many definitions? When I began to realize I was not your vanilla, white bread, peas in a pod kind of person growing up, I had very few choices in which to categorize myself. The three big ones at the time were straight, gay and lesbian. If there were more definitions then that, I didn’t know about it. It was the early 60’s and we were in a simpler time and place. In all honesty, I was too interested in girls in angora sweaters, beer and rock and roll be too worried about labels. I knew I was different, but didn’t know what to call it, so I didn’t call it anything. Please realize I grew up in a very small, Ohio farm community where the pigs outnumbered the people, smack dab in the middle of a rural-agrarian culture which valued the status quo and frowned up diversity. There was no alphabet soup of gender identities, sexual orientations and personal expressions. Oh, how its changed. These days we need a two-volume reference guide just to keep up with all of the new categories/definitions/identities/whatever you want to call it.
How many gender identities do we need? The cornerstone of social media, Facebook.com, where you can have thousands of friends without ever having to spend time with any of them in person, made a big splash last February 13, 2014, by adding fifty-six new gender options instead of the old fashioned male and female. This way you wouldn’t be hemmed in by the old fashioned binary. In order to keep you up to date, here they are:
Female to Male
Male to Female
If these don’t fit – Fill in the Blank
That’s not all folks! Here again, as an old-timer, I remember when there was gay, straight and bisexual. Early on, bisexual was considered by many as someone who hadn’t made up their mind yet. We now know differently and embrace our bisexual brothers and sisters. However, and you know there would be a however, those three didn’t provide an accurate definition. More definitions were added and added and added. Below you will find a list of terms I’ve compiled while surfing the World Wide Web. Everyday there are more and more. This is what I’ve got so far.
LGBPTTQQIIAA+: any combination of letters attempting to represent all the identities in the queer community, this near-exhaustive one (but not exhaustive) represents Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Pansexual, Transgender, Transsexual, Queer, Questioning, Intersex, Intergender, Asexual, Ally
Agender: is a term which can be literally translated as ‘without gender’. It can be seen either as a non-binary gender identity or as a statement of not having a gender identity.
Advocate: a person who actively works to end intolerance, educate others, and support social equity for a group
Ally: a straight person who supports queer people
Androgyny: (1) a gender expression that has elements of both masculinity and femininity; (2) occasionally used in place of “intersex” to describe a person with both female and male anatomy
Androsexual/Androphilic: attracted to males, men, and/or masculinity
Asexual: a person who generally does not experience sexual attraction (or very little) to any group of people
Aromantic: is a person who experiences little or no romantic attraction to others. Aromantics do not lack emotional/personal connection, but simply have no instinctual need to develop connections of a romantic nature. Aromantics can have needs for just as much empathetic support as romantics, but these needs can be fulfilled in a platonic way.
Bigender: a person who fluctuates between traditionally “woman” and “man” gender-based behavior and identities, identifying with both genders (and sometimes a third gender)
Binary Gender: a traditional and outdated view of gender, limiting possibilities to “man” and “woman”
Binary Sex: a traditional and outdated view of sex, limiting possibilities to “female” or “male”
Biological sex: the physical anatomy and gendered hormones one is born with, generally described as male, female, or intersex, and often confused with gender
Bisexual: a person who experiences sexual, romantic, physical, and/or spiritual attraction to people of their own gender as well as another gender; often confused for and used in place of “pansexual”
Cisgender: a description for a person whose gender identity, gender expression, and biological sex all align (e.g., man, masculine, and male)
Cis-man: a person who identifies as a man, presents himself masculinely, and has male biological sex, often referred to as simply “man”
Cis-woman: a person who identifies as a woman, presents herself femininely, and has female biological sex, often referred to as simply “woman”
Closeted: a person who is keeping their sexuality or gender identity a secret from many (or any) people, and has yet to “come out of the closet”
Coming Out: the process of revealing your sexuality or gender identity to individuals in your life; often incorrectly thought to be a one-time event, this is a lifelong and sometimes daily process; not to be confused with “outing”
Cross-dressing: wearing clothing that conflicts with the traditional gender expression of your sex and gender identity (e.g., a man wearing a dress) for any one of many reasons, including relaxation, fun, and sexual gratification; often conflated with transsexuality
Demisexual: is someone who doesn’t typically feel sexual attraction unless they have already formed a strong emotional bond with the person. The bond may or may not be romantic in nature.
Demiromantic: is similar to a demisexual, the individual doesn’t feel romantic attraction “unless they have already formed a strong emotional bond with the person.”
Drag King: a person who consciously performs “masculinity,” usually in a show or theater setting, presenting an exaggerated form of masculine expression, often times done by a woman; often confused with “transsexual” or “transvestite”
Drag Queen: a person who consciously performs “femininity,” usually in a show or theater setting, presenting an exaggerated form of feminine expression, often times done by a man; often confused with “transsexual” or “transvestite”
Dyke: a derogatory slang term used for lesbian women; reclaimed by many lesbian women as a symbol of pride and used as an in-group term
Faggot: a derogatory slang term used for gay men; reclaimed by many gay men as a symbol of pride and used as an in-group term
Female: a person with a specific set of sexual anatomy (e.g., 46,XX phenotype, vagina, ovaries, uterus, breasts, higher levels of estrogen, fine body hair) pursuant to this label
Fluid(ity): generally with another term attached, like gender-fluid or fluid-sexuality, fluid(ity) describes an identity that is a fluctuating mix of the options available (e.g., man and woman, gay and straight); not to be confused with “transitioning”
Fluid-sexuality: describes an identity that is a fluctuating mix of the options available (e.g., man and woman, gay and straight); not to be confused with “transitioning”
FTM/MTF: a person who has undergone medical treatments to change their biological sex (Female To Male, or Male To Female), often times to align it with their gender identity; often confused with “trans-man”/”trans-woman”
Gay: a term used to describe a man who is attracted to men, but often used and embraced by women to describe their same-sex relationships as well
Gender Expression: the external display of gender, through a combination of dress, demeanor, social behavior, and other factors, generally measured on a scale of masculinity and femininity
Gender-fluid: describes an identity that is a fluctuating mix of the options available (e.g., man and woman, gay and straight); not to be confused with “transitioning”
Genderf*ck: Deliberately sending mixed messages about ones sex, usually through ones dress (e.g., wearing a skirt and a beard).
Gender Identity: the internal perception of an individual’s gender, and how they label themselves
Genderless: a person who does not identify with any gender
Genderqueer: (1) a blanket term used to describe people whose gender falls outside of the gender binary; (2) a person who identifies as both a man and a woman, or as neither a man nor a woman; often used in exchange with “transgender”
Graysexual :defines the term as a magical place between asexual and someone who is sexual” and something more fluid between sexuality and asexuality. Those who identify as graysexual might also identify as gay or straight or any other sexual identity inside or outside of the binary.
Gynesexual/Gynephilic: attracted to females, women, and/or femininity
Hermaphrodite: an outdated medical term used to describe someone who is intersex; not used today as it is considered to be medically stigmatizing, and also misleading as it means a person who is 100% male and female, a biological impossibility for humans
Heterosexism: behavior that grants preferential treatment to heterosexual people, reinforces the idea that heterosexuality is somehow better or more “right” than queerness, or ignores/doesn’t address queerness as existing
Heterosexual: a medical definition for a person who is attracted to someone with the other gender (or, literally, biological sex) than they have; often referred to as “straight”
Homophobia: fear, anger, intolerance, resentment, or discomfort with queer people, often focused inwardly as one begins to question their own sexuality
Homosexual: a medical definition for a person who is attracted to someone with the same gender (or, literally, biological sex) they have, this is considered an offensive/stigmatizing term by many members of the queer community; often used incorrectly in place of “lesbian” or “gay”
Hypersex(ual/-ity): a sexual attraction with intensity bordering on insatiability or addiction; recently dismissed as a non-medical condition by the American Psychiatric Association when it was proposed to be included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders version 5.
Intersex: a person with a set of sexual anatomy that doesn’t fit within the labels of female or male (e.g., 47,XXY phenotype, uterus, and penis)
Lithromantic: described a person who experiences romantic love but does not want their feelings to be reciprocated. A lithromantic person may or may not be ok with romantic relationships.
Male: a person with a specific set of sexual anatomy (e.g., 46,XY phenotype, penis, testis, higher levels of testosterone, coarse body hair, facial hair) pursuant to this label
Non-gender: a person who can not be identified as male or female without chromosome testing, or a person whose chromosome test is inconclusive.
Outing [someone]: when someone reveals another person’s sexuality or gender identity to an individual or group, often without the person’s consent or approval; not to be confused with “coming out”
Pansexual: a person who experiences sexual, romantic, physical, and/or spiritual attraction for members of all gender identities/expressions
Polysexual: similar to pansexual, may be attracted to some gender variant people but not have the capability or desire to be with some others.
Panromantic :is romantically — but not sexually — attracted to others regardless of sex or gender.
Queer: (1) historically, this was a derogatory slang term used to identify LGBTQ+ people; (2) a term that has been embraced and reclaimed by the LGBTQ+ community as a symbol of pride, representing all individuals who fall out of the gender and sexuality “norms”
Queerplatonic Relationships: are not romantic in nature but they involve very close emotional connections that are often deeper or more intense than what is traditionally considered a friendship.
Questioning: the process of exploring one’s own sexual orientation, investigating influences that may come from their family, religious upbringing, and internal motivations
Same Gender Loving (SGL): a phrase coined by the African American/Black queer communities used as an alternative for “gay” and “lesbian” by people who may see those as terms of the White queer community
Sexual Orientation: the type of sexual, romantic, physical, and/or spiritual attraction one feels for others, often labeled based on the gender relationship between the person and the people they are attracted to; often mistakenly referred to as “sexual preference”
Sexual Preference: (1) generally when this term is used, it is being mistakenly interchanged with “sexual orientation,” creating an illusion that one has a choice (or “preference”) in who they are attracted to; (2) the types of sexual intercourse, stimulation, and gratification one likes to receive and participate in
Skoliosexual: attracted to genderqueer and transsexual people and expressions (people who aren’t identified as cisgender)
Straight: a man or woman who is attracted to people of the other binary gender than themselves; often referred to as “heterosexual”
Third Gender: (1) a person who does not identify with the traditional genders of “man” or “woman,” but identifies with another gender; (2) the gender category available in societies that recognize three or more genders
Transgender: a blanket term used to describe all people who are not cisgender; occasionally used as “transgendered” but the “ed” is misleading, as it implies something happened to the person to make them transgender, which is not the case
Transitioning: a term used to describe the process of moving from one sex/gender to another, sometimes this is done by hormone or surgical treatments
Transsexual: a person whose gender identity is the binary opposite of their biological sex, who may undergo medical treatments to change their biological sex, often times to align it with their gender identity, or they may live their lives as the opposite sex; often confused with “trans-man”/”trans-woman”
Transvestite: a person who dresses as the binary opposite gender expression (“cross-dresses”) for any one of many reasons, including relaxation, fun, and sexual gratification; often called a “cross-dresser,” and often confused with “transsexual”
Trans-man: a person who was assigned a female sex at birth, but identifies as a man; often confused with “transsexual man” or “FTM”
Trans-woman: a person who was assigned a male sex at birth, but identifies as a woman; often confused with “transsexual woman” or “MTF”
Two-Spirit: a term traditionally used by Native American people to recognize individuals who possess qualities or fulfill roles of both genders
Zucchini: is the name for a partner who is involved in a queerplatonic relationship, as in “He’s my zucchini.”
Did you find something that fit? While putting this list together, I read them all and depending on the day/hour/minute, phase of the moon, season of the year or any other minor or major fluctuation in the universe, I may identify with one or more of these terms, only to change later. Gender is fluid and on a continuum and that makes it the most interesting and exciting journey. What it really boils down to, and we don’t need a list for this is, we are all individuals, precious in our own way and deserving of respect, acceptance and love.
P.S. If anyone is looking for a zucchini, hit me up.