You probably have many questions if your child has recently come out to you or if you are wondering if they will ever identify as part of the LGBTQIA+ community. There is a whole language and subculture that you might not be aware of. What does being a member of the LGBTQIA+ community entail? What is the distinction between gender and sex? What exactly do the various terms for sexual and gender orientations imply?
Understanding the basic ideas of gender identity and expression, as well as sexual and romantic orientation, is crucial to comprehend your kid or loved one. Being familiar with the LGBTQIA+ culture's vocabulary may help you communicate with your child and show that you accept them for who they are.
The sex of a person is a biological term that refers to the genitals they were born with. The term "sex" can also refer to a person's genetic composition (XX or XY, for example). The term "sex assigned at birth" refers to the gender that a newborn is thought to be based on their outward genitalia.
People who have biological and physical characteristics linked with both male and female sexes are referred to as intersex. Intersex is difficult to define since it encompasses a wide range of sexual anatomy, reproductive characteristics, hormones, and chromosomes.
An intersex person, for example, may have visibly masculine genitalia, but genetic testing reveals that they have feminine sex chromosomes (XX). Another example is when a person is born with both female and male reproductive tissue, such as a penis and a vaginal canal.
Another example is that they may have visibly feminine genitalia but lack internal female reproductive systems such as ovaries and so do not release estrogens as a female would.
Intersex People may not realize they are intersex until adolescence or later in life. People can spend a complete life as an intersex person and never realize it.
Being intersex and being transgender is not the same thing (as explained further below). Transgender is an identity problem, whereas intersex is a biological condition. While some intersex people's gender identity matches the sex assigned to them at birth, others do not.
In the past, parents of newborns with intersex traits were encouraged to have their child surgically altered to suit one of the sexes. This was done to safeguard the child's psychological well-being as well as shield them from bullying. As they grew older, these children may or may not have recognized the sex given to the following surgery. Correctional surgery does not provide the same level of psychological protection as previously assumed.
Parents should wait until their intersex kid is old enough to declare whether or not they want surgery on their reproductive or sexual organs, and until the child is old enough to disclose their perceived gender identity, according to current thinking.
The social construct of what it means to be "male" or "female" is referred to as gender. When we talk about gender, we're referring to both society's and an individual's perspective on the subject. Understanding the differences between sex, gender, and the various ways they can be represented, is difficult without considering both elements of gender.
Every civilization categorizes some characteristics, appearances, or values as masculine, female, or neither. Individuals may have a stronger affinity for one gender over the other. They may also choose to identify as neither male nor female. Alternatively, they may go back and forth between gender identities.
Gender identity refers to how a person perceives their place on the gender continuum, which includes male, female, and neither male nor female. Gender identity is a personal thing.
This is how someone displays themselves to the rest of the world. This expression can take several forms, including how they dress, their haircut, their chosen name, pronouns, voice, and more.
For example, a person designated female at birth may identify as female but dress and dress like a man. They may have short hair, use male deodorants or colognes, and dress in apparel available in the men's area of the department store, for example.
Even if their clothing, hairstyle, and body language conform to what our culture considers masculine, if you question them, their preferred pronouns may be She, her, and hers, or she, they, and theirs. They may tell you that they view themselves as ladies if you ask them. They may have a female gender identification but a masculine gender expression.
Another example is a person born female who identifies as masculine and chooses to represent themselves as such in clothes and fashion. They may have short hair and dress in men's clothing, as shown in the image above. Personal pronouns such as he, his, and him, or they, theirs, and them, may be used. They may tell you that they view themselves as guys if you ask them. Their gender identities and expressions are both masculines.
Gender identity refers to a person's inner self-perception. Are they self-identified as male, female, or non-binary? Gender expression refers to how people choose to visually design themselves or the gender they assume corresponds to society's gender ideas. Gender identity and expression do not always coincide.
Cisgender refers to a person whose gender identity and expression correspond to the sex given to them at birth. A person is born a male who also identifies as a man and expresses himself in typically masculine ways.
The term "transgender" refers to a person whose gender identity differs from the sex given to them at birth. For example, a person who was born male but identifies as feminine.
Many transgender people claim to have been "born into the wrong body." They could call themselves "a man in a woman's body" or "a woman in a man's body."
A person born male or female who identifies as neither male nor female is referred to as non-binary. Genderqueer is a term that is occasionally used to describe this.
Orientation - Sexual vs Romantic
Sexual Orientation: Sexual orientation refers to the person to whom a person feels a sexual attraction. Romantic orientation refers to the person with whom a person has romantic sentiments, which may or may not involve sexual desire.
Romantic Orientation: Romantic orientation refers to the type of person with whom a person would most likely have a profoundly personal relationship or with whom they would "fall in love." Sexual orientation, on the other hand, refers to who a person would want to have sex with, but it is not always the same as their romantic orientation.
In most cases, society thinks that sexual and romantic orientations are the same. For instance, the great majority of heterosexuals are also hetero-romantic. They are sexually and romantically attracted to people of the opposing sex or gender.
The majority of people with a homosexual orientation are both homosexual (sexually attracted to people of the same gender) and homo-romantic (attracted to people of the same gender) (romantically attracted to individuals of the same gender).
However, it is possible to have romantic feelings for one gender and sexual desires for the other. For example, a person might be hetero-romantic yet gay, which means that they have romantic sentiments for people of the opposite gender but the solely sexual desire for those of the same gender.
It's important to note that the word "sexual preference" should be avoided. The sexual preference of a person indicates that they have a choice in which gender they are sexually attracted to. Sexual or romantic orientation recognizes that a person's sexual or romantic orientation is a natural part of who they are, not a choice they make.
The Queer Glossary
LGBTQIA+ is an abbreviation that refers to the whole homosexual and transgender community. The abbreviation does not include every gender identity, expression, or sexual and romantic orientation, thus the + symbol at the end. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (or questioning), intersex, and asexual (or an ally) are all represented by the letters LGBTQIA+.
The different gender identities and expressions, sexual orientations, and romantic orientations are described using several words. A beginner's guide may be found here.
Lesbian: It is a woman who is drawn to other women.
Gay: a person who is attracted to another person of the same gender. It is usually applied to males who are sexually attracted to other men, but it may also be applied to women attracted to other women. The term "gay community" can also apply to the LGBTQIA+ community as a whole.
Bisexual: It is defined as a person's attraction to two or more genders. (For example, males and females, or females and genderqueer individuals.)
Bi-curious: a person who prefers people of the opposing gender yet is interested in having sex with someone of the same gender.
Bi-romantic: a person who is romantically attracted to two or more genders.
Coming Out: It is the act of notifying someone or a group of people that you are a member of the LGBTQIA+ community. Coming out is sometimes thought of as a "one-time" event, but it is truly a lifelong journey for gay people.
Pansexual: It’s a person who is sexually attracted to everyone of any gender. Although bisexual and pansexual are sometimes used interchangeably, pansexual refers to an attraction to all genders—male, female, and non-binary—while bisexual refers to an attraction to "only two" gender identities but not necessarily all.
Pangender: Someone who identifies with all genders. It is a type of non-binary gender identification.
Straight: An individual who is attracted to people of the opposite gender and sex.
Trans: The term "trans" can be applied to the whole transgender population.
Transman: A term that might be used by someone who was born feminine but has a masculine gender identification. While some people prefer to be referred to as "men," being transmale is a way of honouring their former sex designation as "female."
FTM or F2M: A term to describe someone who was born a girl but is now a transgender man.
Transwoman: A term that might be used by someone who was born male but has a female gender identification.
MTF or M2F: Another term to describe someone who was born with a masculine gender identity but prefers to identify as female.
Queer: Queer has been reclaimed by the LGBTQIA+ community to be used positively after being used in a negative meaning. Queer can refer to anybody who is a member of the LGBTQIA+ community. It can also be used to avoid putting someone in a certain "box" within the LGBTQIA+ spectrum of identities.
In other words, a person may not wish to state their sexual orientation overtly, but by identifying as queer, they are expressing that they are not entirely straight (or heterosexual).
Questioning: Someone who is unsure of their sexual orientation or gender identity is referred to as a queer.
Asexual: A person who has no sexual attraction to other people. They will probably form friendships or perhaps love connections, but they would not feel sexually attracted to them. It is not a medical problem.
Aromantic: A person who does not develop love bonds with people of other genders.
Ally: Someone who supports or promotes the LGBTQIA+ community but does not identify as queer or trans.
Polysexual: a person who has many sexual and romantic relationships with different people at the same time. Polyamory or ethical non-monogamy is the open and honest decision to have sexual and/or romantic relationships with many individuals. This is not exclusive to the LGBTQIA+ community; it may also happen in straight relationships.
Demisexual: a person who does not develop romantic sentiments before experiencing sensations of sexual desire.
Gender Identity/Expression vs Sexual Orientation
Being transgender has no bearing on a person's sexual or romantic preferences. Although society assumes that transwomen will be attracted to males and transmen will be drawn to women, this is not always the case.
Consider the case of a person who was born male but now identifies as a transwoman with feminine gender identity.
Because she identifies as a woman and is attracted to the same gender, this transwoman may consider herself gay or a lesbian if she finds herself attracted to women. Another possibility is that this transwoman is attracted to males. Because she is attracted to the other gender, she may choose to identify as a heterosexual in this situation. Alternatively, this transwoman may identify as a pansexual and experience sexual attraction to people of all genders.
We can't assume a person's sexual or romantic orientation based on their cisgender look, and we can't assume a transgender person's sexual orientation based on their outwardly cisgender appearance. Only if they disclose their orientation to you will you know.
In the context of gender identity and sexual orientation, the term fluid might be employed. Fluid describes how a person's gender identification or sexual orientation can vary over time.
This might relate to changes through time—for example, someone in their adolescent years may have one sexual orientation but later in life develop into a different sexual orientation.
Fluidity, on the other hand, maybe applied continuously. Some genderqueer or non-binary people, for example, may consider themselves gender fluid, meaning that one day they feel more feminine, the next day they feel more male, and the third day they feel neither.
According to research, our urge to assign a single orientation label to a person for the rest of their lives may not adequately reflect the experiences of all people. A person’s sexual orientation can change over time, and this is not uncommon.
For example, a female identifier may only be attracted to other girls in her teens and early twenties, but in her 30s, she may be attracted to certain men. This shift in orientation does not imply that it is a "decision."
Gender identity and sexual orientation are more intricate than a person being born one way and only one way. Sexual flexibility is what it's all about. However, sexual fluidity should not be used to suggest that a person will "grow out" of their gender identity or to describe a person's battle with identity or orientation as a "phase.
Drag, Cross-Dressing & Transgender Identity
Drag, cross-dressing, and transgender expressions are commonly misunderstood as synonyms. In reality, there are three distinct ideas.
Drag: The reality television show RuPaul's Drag Race popularised drag. Drag is a type of entertainment and theatre in which a person dresses up as a female or male in an exaggerated, highly stylized manner.
Drag queens, or males who portray themselves as women via excessive make-up, dress, and mannerisms, are well-known. Drag kings are women who use excessive make-up, clothing, and behaviours to depict themselves as men however, this is less common.
Drag participation has no bearing on a person's gender identification or sexual orientation. There are straight drag queens, although the majority of drag performers are homosexual.
Drag also has nothing to do with gender identification. The majority of drag queens are male, although some are transgender. Transgender identity is a person's expression of their actual self, whereas drag is a character put on by the performer.
Cross-dressing: Cross-dressing is the practice of dressing in clothing of a different gender or sex than one's own. It is not always a show or a kind of entertainment, unlike drag. Cross-dressing is a means of expressing one's individuality.
Cross-dressing is not always a sign of one's sexual orientation or gender identity. Straight men and straight women love wearing women's and men's clothes, respectively.
Using the pronouns that an individual prefers is a vital component of demonstrating respect and support for that person.
Inquire about a person's preferred pronouns if you are unclear. Even if you are referring to a single individual, use the plural gender-neutral pronouns (they/theirs/them) if you are unsure which pronouns to use.
Some possibilities include:
Some trans people prefer the gender-neutral singular pronouns zee, zir, Zir, and ourselves. Zie is pronounced as /zee/, while zir is pronounced /z-ir/, which sounds similar to sir but with a z.
If your kid has requested that you use pronouns other than those traditionally associated with their sex given at birth, assure them that you will do your best to comply.
Of course, you will occasionally make an error and use incorrect pronouns. It is not easy to change the way you refer to someone you have known for a long time. Attempting to use the pronouns they want, on the other hand, is a vital aspect of assisting your child.
Supporting Your Child
It is an emotional day for both of you when your child comes out to you. Whether you have a gut sense or are caught off guard by the news, the most essential thing you can do is listen, accept them for who they are, and do your best to be there for them. You are already demonstrating helpful, caring acts, etc.
Tell them you love them just the way they are. Assuage their fears by assuring them that nothing has changed since they came out to you. You may think that, regardless of your child's orientation or identity, you will still love and support them, but your child needs to hear you speak the words. Say them again and over again.
Ask your child what pronouns they want you to use if they have come out to you as transgender and make use of them. Their preferred pronouns may vary over time.
Many transgender people alter their names to better reflect their gender identity. Make use of the name they have selected. According to studies, utilizing a transgender teen's preferred name lowers their risk of sadness and suicidality. It is possible that using their chosen name will save their lives.
Look up when a Pride march or event is scheduled in your region and attend with your child. The LGBTQIA+ community, as well as allies, attend Pride. There will be a warm greeting for you. Going to Pride to support your gay or trans child will be honoured as a parent.
Unfortunately, bullying may be a significant issue for LGBTQIA+ young people too. Be their spokesperson. Keep an eye out for symptoms of bullying and seek help if you suspect your child is being bullied.
This article is a good place to start! Learn the words, as well as the history and culture. Your child will see your attempt to educate oneself as a great source of support.
They should refer to their relationship as a "partner" rather than a "friendship." Alternatively, they refer to their spouse in the manner that they have requested. When they return home with a same-gender partner, for example, calling them their "friend" rather than their partner, boyfriend or girlfriend might be upsetting.
Do not tell them it is "only a phase" and that they will grow out of it. Their gender identity or sexual orientation may change (see "What Does Fluid Mean?" above), but it is more likely that it would not. When you tell your child that they will "grow out" of their present gender identity or orientation, you are unwittingly indicating that who they are now is unacceptable.
If they are having trouble, enrol them in a support group or seek counselling. In the LGBTQIA+ population, the risk of suicide and depression is significant. You can look for help for your child. Look for LGBTQIA+ youth groups, support groups, or meet-ups.
Even if you love and accept your child for who they are, having an LGBTQIA+ child may be difficult. You may be concerned about their future or the discrimination they may face. You could be saddened by what you envision their lives to be like. You will need help if you are going to support your child.
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