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The little LGBTQI Glossary

2018-12-28

Although LGBTQI may sound a bit like a mobile phone contract, it’s actually the acronym for “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Transsexual, Queer and Intersex Life”. But what exactly do the individual terms mean? Trans- or intersexual, queer or gay – our little LGBTQI glossary is here to help (in alphabetical order).


What is…asexuality?

People who consider themselves to be asexual are often perfectly happy to engage in romantic and affectionate relationships, but they are not interested in sexual relations. That’s not a conscious decision. Instead, asexual men and women simply lack the desire to engage in sexual activity.


What is… bigender?

Persons who consciously and visibly express their personalities by swapping between female and male roles are said to be bigender.


What is…bisexuality?

Individuals who are attracted to both men and women are bisexual. However, the attraction to either gender doesn’t necessarily happen at the same time, and may manifest in a very different manner. For example, bisexuals could be romantically attracted to one and sexually attracted to the other gender.


What is… cisgender?

The term refers to people whose gender identity matches their gender assigned at birth.


What is… drag?

Although the origin of the term “drag queen” is debated, it is widely believed to once having referred to pantomime artists, who used to disguise themselves as women and play exaggerated female stereotypes. Similarly, “drag kings” are women who masquerade as men and imitate stereotypical and symbolic male traits. However, that doesn’t mean that drag queens/kings actually identify with the opposite gender. Therefore, they are not necessarily transgender.


What is… gender?

In scientific language, “gender” describes the defined terms for the social gender and stands in contrast to “sex” which refers to the biological sex. The terms allow for the exploration of gender roles, identities and gender relations in our society.


What is… heteronormativity?

Heteronormativity defines the often widespread assumption that the biological binary gender distribution is natural and in principal coincides with the social gender. That is men on the hand and women on the other – each with their distinct gender roles in life. The LGBTQI community has been challenging the heteronormative definitions for many years.


What is… homosexual?

Literally, homosexuality refers to same-sex desire. It’s the opposite of heterosexual. Therefore, “gays” are women who desire women (colloquially “lesbian”) and men who desire men (colloquially “gay”).  


What is… intersexuality?

Intersex individuals are born with bodies that have both male and female sex characteristics. Such traits can manifest in the genitals, the internal sexual organs, the gonads, hormones or a set of chromosomes. The term is used when a clear attribution to the binary sex system (man and woman) is not possible as such. A derogatory term for intersex people is “hermaphrodite”.  


What is… queer?

Queer is English and originally used to refer to something “strange” or “funny”. It used to be a derogatory term for LGBTQI people, carrying a negative connotation for many years. However, since the 1990s, the term has been used as an anti-identity denomination and is a common collective term for any sexual orientation and gender identity.


What is… transgender?

Individuals who don’t associate with their birth gender are referred to as transgender. However, not all transgender people seek surgical procedures to make adjustments to their physical form in order to become more clearly identifiable as female or male. Instead, some simply reject the binary gender structures and strictly oppose surgical interventions.


What is… transsexuality?

Transsexuals are a subgroup of transgender people. They tend to feel alienated with their birth-assigned sex, and instead identify with a gender they have experienced. Therefore, transsexuals often opt for surgical or hormonal therapies in an effort to transition to the gender with which they identify.


What is… transvestism?

Transvestites like to dress in the style of the opposite sex temporarily or permanently either in public or private. However, that doesn’t mean that a transvestite is necessarily also a homosexual. A commonly used synonym is “cross-dressing”, which similarly refers to the practice and enjoyment of wearing the fashions of the opposite sex.




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