We know that sex is assigned at birth and it no longer determines our gender identity, expression, who we are physically and emotionally attracted to. Gender identity and expression, sexual and romantic orientation are fluid, they can flex and change over time. If someone’s identity changes it does not make their identity any less valid or legitimate.
Labels are important for people to create visibility, a sense of community and, to have language for shared experiences. Not everyone will identify with a label, and many people will have more than one. Do not categorize other people and do not assume folk’s identities.
LGBTQ+ stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, and Queer identities that is not limited to those named. Queer is a reclaimed slur and is an in-group term, so allies should utilize the acronym LGBTQ+ instead of saying queer. LGBTQ+ also holds the identities/attractions of; agender, non-binary, gender nonconforming, genderqueer, gender variant, transgender, Two-Spirit, aromantic, asexual/ace, biromantic, demisexual, homoromantic, panromantic and pansexual.
Coming out is the experience of disclosing that you are not cis or heterosexual/heteromantic. The reason LGBTQ+ people feel the need to come out is because of the assumption that everyone is straight and cis-gender. Coming out is not a one-time thing, it’s an ongoing process. It’s an individual decision, and there is no “right” way to do it. We get to decide for ourselves when and how we come out, and who we tell, and in what order. If someone comes out to you, respect that they have trusted you, so don’t “out” them to anyone else.
You can check out a comprehensive terms and definitions list here and the Gender Unicorn that illustrates gender identity, expression, sex assigned at birth, physical and emotional attraction.
Things we want to say to anyone who identifies as LGBTQ+ or who is questioning:
- You are important.
- You are valuable.
- You are normal.
- You are beautiful.
- You don’t need “fixing.”
- You belong.
- You are welcome.
- We love you.
For cisgender and straight folks who want to work toward being LGBTQ+ allies, check out some of these resources:
- 5 Tips for Being an Ally - textor video (from Chescaleigh Ramsey)
- Send the Right Message(from Planned Parenthood Toronto)
- Do Something
- Microaggressions (“small” things add up)
The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms assures that all people, including LGBTQ+ persons, are equal before and under law. You have the right to same-sex marriage, adoption, serve in the military and equal access to government benefits. Under the Ontario Human Rights Code, it is against the law for LGBTQ+ persons to be harassed or discriminated against in; employment, services and facilities, accommodation and housing, contracts and membership in unions, trade or professional associations. The Ontario Health Insurance Plan covers some gender affirming surgeries.
History behind LGBTQ+ terms:
The History of the Word ‘Femme’
The History Behind the Word ‘Butch’
The History of the Word ‘Twink’
The History of the Word ‘Agender’
The History of the Word ‘Queer’
What Does “Two-Spirit” Mean?