by Zara Zrudlo
In past articles, I’ve used the acronym 2SLGBTQIA+, but there are others too! Which version of the acronym is best to use, and what exactly does it mean? Here is a little extra info to make some of the terms clearer! Sexual Orientation has to do with whom a person is attracted, or not attracted, to. Gender identity is what gender people identify with, regardless of what gender they may appear to be on the outside. These things are independent of each other.
2S stands for Two Spirited. It is a term used by some Indigenous Peoples and it is exclusively for Indigenous Peoples. However, not all 2SLGBTQIA+ Indigenous peoples are Two Spirited. A Two Spirited person’s body, in some cultures, houses two spirits, one male and one female. This term is not universally accepted by all Indigenous Peoples.
L stands for Lesbian, which generally means a woman who is attracted to women.
G stands for Gay. In the past, Gay has meant a man who is attracted to other men; however, now it is also used as an umbrella term for anyone who isn’t heterosexual (straight).
B stands for Bisexual (Bi). Bisexual people are attracted to both male and female genders, or sometimes all genders. Bi folks can be more attracted to a certain gender while still liking others, and that is still considered valid bisexuality.
T stands for transgender (Trans). It means someone whose sex assigned at birth (male or female) is not the gender that they are on the inside. Someone who was assigned male at birth might feel that they are a woman on the inside, or vice versa. To simplify, anyone whose gender identity doesn’t match their sex assigned at birth could use the term trans if that feels best for them. This term also applies to people who don’t fit into the binary genders (male/female).
Q generally stands for either queer or questioning. Queer is an umbrella term for everyone in the 2SLGTQIA+ community. However, some people don’t use the word queer, so before you describe someone as queer, check with them first! Questioning is a term for someone who is still figuring out what their gender identity or sexual orientation is.
I stands for Intersex. Intersex is a general term for people whose reproductive anatomy doesn’t fit within the boxes of male or female. This isn’t unnatural, sometimes people are born this way. Intersex isn’t a very well‑known term, which can be very upsetting to Intersex people, especially since the training for doctors doesn’t always include information about Intersex people.
A stands for Asexual (Ace), Aromantic (Aro) or occasionally (Ally).
Asexual is not just a sexual orientation, it’s a spectrum. Ace people may feel no sexual attraction and still enjoy relationships, or not want to be in a relationship at all. Some may enjoy some types of sexual activity, but not others; it varies depending on the person. Being Ace doesn’t mean that you haven’t found the right person yet, it is a valid way to be.
Aromantic people may feel the ‘standard’ amount of sexual attraction, but they may feel little or no romantic attraction. Romantic attraction doesn’t necessarily mean sexual activity.
Ally is the last thing that the ‘A’ commonly stands for. It has been debated, because allies to the community are not 2SLGBTQIA+ themselves. Whether or not they are in the acronym, they are amazingly important to 2SLGBTQIA+ health, and sense of belonging.
+ stands for all of the identities that aren’t included in the acronym.
Sometimes how long the acronym is can raise the question of why it and all of these labels are important! The acronym is a way to talk about 2SLGBTQIA+ people. Other words to describe this community can be offensive to some, and this acronym, while complicated, can rarely be seen as offensive.
As for why all these labels are important, it’s different for everyone. Some people choose not to use labels, but for some people these labels have been lifesavers. If you grow up in a transphobic household, questioning your gender identity or sexual orientation might lead to thinking you’re unnatural, or to depression, or being suicidal. Finding a label and finding other people in the community can give people a sense of belonging. Labels can show people that there are others who are like them. There are many other variations of this acronym and there is no real ‘right one’ to use.
There are many other terms not included in this acronym! Some resources to find them are:
The Trevor Project (Website)
Seeing Gender by Iris Gottlieb (Book)
Zara Zrudlo is a homeschooled, fourteen year old resident of Kemtpville. They love writing, art, acting, reading and anything to do with music. Ever since they were little they’ve cared a lot about activism and social justice, and hoped to make a difference in the world. Zara has written two and a half novels, and ran a newspaper for their friends and family for three years. They love hanging out with their dogs and chickens and spending time imagining having dinner with various book characters.