LGBTQ+ stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, and others. The “plus” shows that there are other sexual identities, such as pansexual and Two-Spirit. Since the 1990s, the first four letters of the acronym have been used, but in the past few years, people have become more aware of the need to include other sexual identities in order to better represent everyone.
The acronym stands for a wide range of sexualities and gender identities. It refers to anyone who is transgender or attracted to people of the same or similar gender.
What’s the meaning of each letter?
L (Lesbian): A lesbian is a woman or person who identifies as a woman who only likes people of the same gender.
G (Gay): The word “gay” is usually used to describe men or people who identify as men who only like people of the same gender. But gay is also a word that can be used to describe lesbians. During the 1970s, the word “gay” was used more and more. People who are bisexual or pansexual sometimes use the word “gay” to refer to themselves when they talk about their attraction to people of the same gender.
B (Bisexual): Being bisexual means that you are attracted to people of both sexes. It’s important to recognize bisexual people because there have been times when people who say they are bi have been mistaken for gay. Since the “Bisexual Manifesto” came out in 1990, bisexual people have included transgender, binary, and nonbinary people.
T (Transgender): The word “transgender” means that a person’s gender identity is different from the gender they were assigned at birth.
Q (Queer or Questioning): Some people use “queer” as a specific identity, but it is often used as an umbrella term for anyone who is not cisgender or heterosexual. It is also an insult. It shouldn’t be used for all people in the community. Instead, cisgender and heterosexual people should only use it when talking about someone who identifies with it. People who are questioning may not be sure about their sexual orientation or gender identity.
+ (Plus): The “plus” stands for all gender identities and sexual orientations that aren’t covered by the other five initials. Two-Spirit is a pan-Indigenous American identity that shows this.
Changes to the LGBTQ+ Acronym
Other acronyms that are sometimes used are LGBTQIA+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual, and other identities), LGBTIQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, and queer), and LGBTQQIP2SAA (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex, pansexual, two-spirit (2S), androgynous, and asexual
What Does LGBTQ+ Stand For?
Before, “the gay community” and later “the gay and lesbian community,” were used to describe a wide range of orientations and identities. Over time, the acronym changed to include more identities.
How come the letters have changed over time? It’s important to remember that words and their meanings change all the time. Sigmund Freud said that being bisexual meant that a person was both a man and a woman. Being both a man and a woman is now called “bigender” (part of the transgender umbrella), and being attracted to both men and women is called “bisexuality.”
More letters have been added to the original acronym to better represent other identities that have to do with sexual orientation and gender identity.
Why the “+” is Important
People often use variations like LGBT or LGBTQ, but many advocates say that the “plus” is important and shouldn’t be left out. The goal of the acronym is to show how many different kinds of people are attracted to the same or similar gender or are transgender. With the plus, it’s easier to show how different these things are.
GLAAD, or the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, says, “Coverage of LGBTQ issues has moved beyond simple political dichotomies and toward more fully realized representations, not only of the diversity of the LGBTQ community, but also of LGBTQ people’s lives, their families, and their basic inclusion in the fabric of American society.”
You may also see or hear the following words when talking about the LGBTQ+ community:
This is a word that is sometimes shortened to “ace,” It means that a person has little or no sexual attraction, but they may have romantic attraction.
This is a term for people whose gender identity matches the gender they were given at birth.
Intersex is a term for people who are born with a mix of male and female traits that don’t fit into the two categories of male and female.
Nonbinary means that a person doesn’t only identify as a woman or a man.
Gender nonconformist: A person whose gender identity or expression doesn’t fit the traditional norms of what it means to be a man or a woman.
Gender identity is how a person feels about their own gender, whether they are a woman, a man, or something else. A person’s gender identity is not always the same as the gender they were given at birth or the way they act.
Also, it’s important to know that sex and gender are not the same thing. Gender is based on social, cultural, and environmental factors, while sex is based on biology.
What does it mean to be nonbinary or gender-queer?
Why showing LGBTQ+ people is important
The LGBTQ+ acronym is important because not only is it meant to be more inclusive, but it also shows how people who are transgender or attracted to people of the same gender see themselves.
The acronym is used to show that there are many different ways to identify as a gender and to be sexually active. The addition of other identities to the LGBT acronym also helps to recognize and connect them to a larger community.
It also means that these people can get more attention from the public as a whole. Instead of being erased, ignored, or denied, marginalized identities can be made more visible if they are acknowledged.
Visibility can also help a person feel more sure of themselves and their identity. Research has shown that it is important for LGBTQ+ youth to be in environments that are welcoming and positive.
Even though there are safety concerns, research also shows that being seen as a member of the LGBTQ+ community can be an important way to feel proud of one’s identity.
Affirming one’s own identity can help people feel better about themselves and improve their mental health as a whole. This can be especially important since there has been a lack of representation in mainstream media for a long time.
The good news is that this has been getting better over the past few years. According to a recent GLAAD report, the number of LGBTQ characters and relationships on TV is higher than it has ever been.
This includes having more non-binary identities and making them more visible. However, the report says that BIPOC characters are still underrepresented.
Research and statistics show that LGBTQ+ youth are more likely to have a number of mental health and social problems. These problems are often caused by or made worse by isolation, marginalization, and discrimination based on their orientation or identity, or by the fact that they are not accepted by their peers.
One way to help solve some of these problems might be to encourage people to be more open and accepting.
How to Use the LGBTQ+ Abbreviation
More and more people use and accept the acronym LGBTQ+. Some people also use terms like “queer,” but not everyone is comfortable with it because it is still a slur.
How to Use It
So how do you know when to say “LGBTQ+”?
The term is meant to include all people who are attracted to the same gender or who are trans.
Use a specific word to talk about issues that may be unique to a certain identity or orientation.
When talking about people, be specific. LGBTQ+ is also an adjective that describes the whole community, not just one person. For example, you wouldn’t say “Ali is LGBTQ+”—you’d say “Ali is gay.”
LGBTQ+ can be helpful if you want to be inclusive, but LGBT is the most common term and probably the one that most people know. There are even more inclusive forms, such as LGBTQI2S. (which represents lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, queer, intersex, and Two-Spirit).
Intersex people don’t agree on whether or not they see themselves as part of the community. Some do, and some don’t. Indigenous people came up with the term “Two-Spirit” to distinguish themselves from Western ideas about gender and sexuality. Some people think it is disrespectful to add “Two-Spirit” to the acronym because of this.
No matter what words people use, what’s important is that they have a choice in how they identify themselves and that other people accept that identity. If someone tells you how they see themselves, pay attention to how they see themselves.
If you want to know more about what words and phrases you should avoid, the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) has a page with helpful information on LGBTQ terms and terms that are specific to the transgender community.
What the LGBTQ+ acronym Means
In the past few years, LGBT and other acronyms related to it have become more common. It has also helped people in marginalized groups, like transgender people, get more attention.
Even though attitudes are becoming more accepting, research shows that LGBTQ+ people still face a lot of homophobia and discrimination. Harassment, bullying, and unfair treatment at work happen often.
One benefit of using a unified language is that it makes it easier to advocate for political change. Social solidarity can be used to make people more visible, stop discrimination, and move forward important causes, such as anti-discrimination and equality laws.
People can feel more connected to a larger group of people who have similar experiences when they use terms like LGBTQ+. But the word “community” can sometimes sound like it refers to a single, uniform group, when in fact there are many different communities made up of different kinds of people.
There are some things that all of these groups have in common, but each group has its own experiences and needs.
Even though the point of this initialism is to make it more known and make people feel more welcome, not everyone agrees on which term or variation to use. Over the years, people have called the community by many names, some of which were meant to hurt. So it’s not strange that how people describe themselves can be different, especially when it comes to self-expression, sexuality, and identity.
LGBT is still used a lot, and some people may like it because they think it’s easier to represent a wide range of identities with just four letters.
Some people may feel left out by the usual four initials, so adding Q and “Plus” can be helpful.
This doesn’t mean that language won’t continue to change and develop, especially as people work to make transgender people more visible and accepted.