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Overview of Queer Identities: Part 3

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Mon Sep 28, 2015 5:04 am
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Kale says...

This is just a general overview of the acronyms, terms, and their histories that weren't covered in the other overviews. I strongly encourage you to do your own research into them because there is no way I could possibly cover everything.

In other words, THIS IS NOT A COMPREHENSIVE GUIDE, nor does this pretend to be as such. This is intended to be a starting point for future research into the terms and acronyms presented here, among others.

Common Acronyms and Terms of Reference

A non-queer person (typically a cisgendered heterosexual allosexual) who works with the members of a queer community towards realizing social equality.

AFAB (Assigned Female At Birth)
Generally used by transsexual and intersex people, though also used by transgender and genderqueer people to describe their physical presentation.

AMAB (Assigned Male At Birth)
Generally used by transsexual and intersex people, though also used by transgender and genderqueer people to describe their physical presentation.

The belief/those who believe that sex and gender are directly interchangeable, i.e. one and the same. The prevailing view of society on a whole when it comes to sex and gender.

Abbreviated form of "cisgendered heterosexual".

LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transsexual)
Perhaps the oldest acronym used to refer to members of the queer community, it has since been expanded to be more inclusive. The most explicitly inclusive version I've seen so far has been LGBTTIQQ2SAAP, which stands for "Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual, Transgender, Intersex, Queer, Questioning, Two-Spirit, Allies, Asexual, and Pansexual", with other non-specified identities supposedly included in the "Queer and Questioning" umbrellas.

However, umbrella inclusions often lead to exclusions of other identities, particularly asexuality, which is why the acronym has expanded so drastically over the years.

Often abbreviated as LGBTQ+, LGBTQIA+, or any number of variants, sometimes without the plus sign (in which case, it is less explicitly inclusive).

Important Notes: If there is only one A in the acronym, it stands for Asexual, NOT Allies. Allies are only explicitly mentioned when there are two As. Similarly, if there is only one T in the acronym, it stands for Transsexual and NOT Transgender. One Q corresponds to Queer and NOT Questioning.

MOGAI (Marginalized Orientations, Gender Alignments, and Intersex)
MOGAI is a relatively new acronym, coined to be more inclusive and easier to type than LGBTQIA+.

People whose sex and gender are not directly interchangeable, such as people whose gender identities fall outside the male-female norm. It's worth noting that transsexual people are generally not non-binary, whereas transgender people generally are.

SAGA (Sexuality and Gender Acceptance)
Another relatively new acronym coined to be more inclusive and easier to type out than LGBTQIA+. The similarity to the word "saga" is deliberate.

Trans and Trans*
There is a lot of controversy within the queer community surrounding the use of the "trans" versus "trans*". Most of it comes from how, until the last few years or so, "trans" was used to refer specifically to transsexual people. When the term "transgender" was coined, people began using "trans" to refer to transgender people in addition to transsexual people, which made sense as there was a lot of overlap between the two communities, especially in the case of pre-op transsexual people.

However, as the term "transgender" expanded to include people whose gender identities were non-binary, "transgender" became less and less interchangeable with "transsexual", and so the "transgender" use of "trans" became an issue. People within both communities either felt that using "trans" to refer to both transgender and transsexual people was too nonspecific, or that using "trans" to refer to transsexual people specifically was too exclusive.

And then along came a person who was not part of the trans community who appended the asterisk in an infographic and lumped together a bunch of disparate identities underneath the asterisked umbrella. Only, he didn't really come up with the idea (or other ideas pushed on his website) and instead just took credit from the work of several other people within the trans community, and then made a lot of money off of related merchandising.

The use of the asterisk is also strongly linked to transmisogyny and the erasure of trans women.

To this day, the asterisk remains a very sore spot of contention, with about as many people within the transgender and transsexual communities being for it as there are against it. There will be times when people explicitly ask you to use or not use the asterisk; generally, if you're not a member of the transsexual or transgender community, use the form specifically asked of you for that conversation. If you are a member of the transsexual or transgender community, feel free to respectfully explain why you do/don't use the asterisk and continue on as you were.

Important Notes: The asterisk comes from the use of an asterisk as a wildcard in searches. It basically means, in computer terms, that everything after the asterisk is optional/irrelevant. As a result, the use of trans* has been used to diminish both transsexual and transgender people, essentially saying that the differences between the two groups are nonexistent, irrelevant, and otherwise trivial. This is another reason why, unless you are a member of either group and have good reason to use the asterisk, you should use whichever form is requested of you.

One of the oldest and most acceptable ways to refer to non-cishet people on a whole, when used as an adjective. "Queer" is also the most inclusive, though it is also the most non-specific. Since there are a lot of distinct subgroups underneath the queer umbrella, it's generally best to focus your language about the specific subgroup(s) you are discussing, especially since not all subgroups have the same needs or interests, and interests often clash between groups.

"Queer" itself is also an identity of its own, particularly of people who don't identify with any of the other labels for gender or sexuality. When someone says "I am queer", they are generally referring to "queer" as a distinct identity rather than "I am a member of the queer community", which is more broad in scope.

Important Notes: Never, ever refer to anyone as "a queer" or a group of queer people as "the queers". Those are slurs. Really, the same could be said of all the terms and acronyms used in reference to the queer community. These terms and acronyms are labels, and using these labels as the sole defining aspect of a person is incredibly dehumanizing. As such, using these labels as anything other than adjectives appended to "person/persons/people/community/communities/etc." is a slur. Don't use slurs. Just don't.

Very Important Closing Note

Gender and sexuality are fluid, meaning that they can (and often do) change over time. It is not uncommon for someone to identify with a different gender or sexuality at various points in their life. One of the biggest problems these people face is a lack of respect or belief in their stated identity. If someone tells you they identify as X, even if they told you they identified as something else before, respect that and refer to them as X. Do not question them or insist that they are whatever they identified as before. Just don't.
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Sat Oct 10, 2015 5:23 am
Nargles says...

This is awesome, you're awesome and so is everybody else who worked on this!
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