Originally, the acronym was simply LGBT (or alternately GLBT though it has been used significantly less often). L obviously stands for Lesbians, those females who find themselves solely or predominantly attracted to other females. The G for gay men, those men who find themselves attracted solely or predominantly to other males. The B, of course, stands for Bisexuals, those who to one degree or another find themselves attracted to people of both genders.
Then there is the T, which stands for both Transgender and Transsexual. This is one area of the community where there is a LOT of misunderstanding and confusion, so I’m going to attempt to explain it as clearly as possible. A Transgender person is an individual who does not exactly feel as if their gender matches their biological sex characteristics. There are many different forms this may take, almost as many as there are individual transgender people. Some may identify as androgynies having neither gender, pangender expressing all gender variations, gender fluid, meaning that their gender identity changes on a daily or even momentary basis, third gender, fourth gender, two-spirit and the list goes on. The key here is that they don’t fit into the typical heteronormative binary gender roles. These individuals are often confused with transsexuals who feel as if they are misgendered and feel the need to transition from their biological or birth gender to the opposite gender. Individuals who were born female but identify as male or people who were born male but identify as female. A Transsexual may undergo hormone therapy, and/or sexual reassignment surgery, or not, as they feel is right for them. Regardless of what they choose to do, it is important to remember that these are personal decisions and no one’s business but their own. Please remember that and remain respectful.
It wasn’t long after LGBT entered common usage that Q was added to the mix. Q originally stood for Questioning and relates to those who are still unsure and exploring their sexuality and gender identity but has also been extended to the term Queer, which is a bit more of a catch-all category for anyone that doesn’t fall into heteronormative ideals of sexuality and gender.
For many, the Q is more than enough as it acts as a catch-all for every sorted and sundry category or label in the community. Some have even argued that we should do away with all other letters and just maintain the Q for simplicity and homogenization. The issue with that is that we are not a simple community, and we are a community that prides itself on its diversity and wears it proudly as a badge for all to see, we do not hide our members away, we do not closet ourselves, and we do not marginalize or leave anyone behind, because at the end of the day; we are family, perhaps not blood family, but family in the only way that counts. We stick together, we support one another, even when the whole world is stacked against us, we have each other’s backs. And that’s why we have the last two letters in our infamous alphabet soup.
The I, in LGBTQIA, is one of the smallest and most overlooked letter in the acronym for members of our community. Even the vast majority of those in our community still don’t understand it, which is exactly why it is so important that they are noticed and that a light be shone upon them. The I stands for Intersexed. Intersexed individuals are those for one reason or another, are either born as chromosomally male or female, but having parts and characteristics of the opposite or both genders. In many cases, especially historically, these issues were “fixed” at birth by overzealous doctors, often without fully informing the parents of what was going on and also often “fixed” erroneously assigning an incorrect gender. In more recent times, more doctors and parents have chosen to forego such “fixings” and to let the child decide what to do for themselves when they are of age. There are many differing and varied types of intersexed individuals and many conditions in which they may choose to live or present themselves. It is beyond the scope of this document to even begin a full examination of such, but it seems that in many ways the plight of the intersexed community is one of the most poignant, overlooked, and difficult paths of the varied community we call the LGBTQIA community. They cannot be ignored and shunned and must be brought into the light, understood, and accepted. If we can’t achieve this in our own community of diversity, then they have no hope of achieving such equality in the far less forgiving and accepting heteronormative communities of the masses.
Finally, we are brought to the A. The A, like the Q has multiple meanings. It often represents asexuals, those who have no desire for sexual contact or sexual expression for whatever reason. This is yet another small and often misunderstood grouping and many of them may not even feel represented by or part of the LGBTQIA community, but the whole point of this community is that we accept all orientations and sexualities and thus the asexual community has always been and will always be an accepted and celebrated part of our community of diversity. And finally, A also stands for allies. Those among us who might be cis and heteronormative but who have stood by our sides, fought for our equal rights with us, stood against oppression and oppressors with us, and who have supported us, wept for us, and celebrated with us throughout our history. Many of these are brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, grandparents, aunts and uncles, of members of our community. Some may have no blood relations whatsoever, instead, they may be friends and loved ones, or they just may be people who understand that everyone deserves equality and respect. We must never forget our allies, and we must never neglect them when we think of our community because without them standing up for us, many of them when no one else was willing to, we would have achieved virtually nothing for all our struggles for equality.
Yes, the name can be long and cumbersome, many of us don’t feel the need to spell it out or say every single letter every single time we refer to it, and that’s okay. But we must never forget to acknowledge and celebrate the diversity of our community. We must always strive to understand each other, to accept each other, to love each other, and most importantly, to support each other. In a world that seeks to turn us all into square pegs mindlessly conforming to the throngs of homogeny, we must never be afraid to stand united, and shine our own unique lights onto society turning the humdrum world of black and white into a spectrum of rainbow colors for all to see. United we Stand, Divided We Fall is a phrase once coined for the American people, but nowhere does it seem more accurate and important to the existence and success of a community than it does within the LGBTQIA community.