Millions of people are only now understanding and appropriately using terminology for people of all sexual and gender orientations. We are all still learning. It’s a wonderful thing to be living in a time where people are trying to understand. It’s a wonderful thing to feel validated. If you understand the basic terms such as gay and transgender, I would like to introduce a few more orientations that people go by but are rarely represented in the media or discussed in public. I split the terms into gender which is who you identify as a person, and sexuality which is who you experience attraction towards.
The Gender Spectrum: From Man to Woman, Cis to Trans, and Beyond
Agender: This is a gender orientation that is termed as “genderless.’ A person who is agender isn’t a man or woman. Some agender people just want to have their name used instead of a pronoun, while others are comfortable being addressed as he/she/they.
Nonbinary: Being non-binary means that one’s gender expands beyond the categories of man and woman. They typically use they/them pronouns. Nonbinary people fall into the category of a third gender.
Genderfluid: A person who is genderfluid is not solely a boy or a girl. This does not have any influence over the gender they are assigned at birth. Some days, the person may have girl days and respond to female pronouns while also presenting more feminine. Other days, the person may have boy days and respond to male pronouns and act more masculine. Gender tends to fluctuate for them, for they do not always go between a boy or a girl, but even genderless sometimes.
Demiboy/ Demigirl: A person who identifies as a demiboy or a demigirl is mostly masculine or feminine. Regardless of the assigned gender at birth, a demiboy may identify mostly as a male. However, that means that a demiboy could also respond to female pronouns or genderless pronouns if they believe that another gender could also represent who they are. This example could be used to understand demigirls, but with the female pronouns.
The Sexuality Spectrum: Gay, Straight, In Between, and More
Asexual: A person who is asexual doesn’t feel sexual attraction. They may feel romantic attraction or platonic attraction, but may not be sexually attracted to people.
Demisexual: A person who doesn’t feel sexual attraction until they fall in love with their partner. This person doesn’t specifically care about their partner’s gender, but only becomes sexually attracted to them after they have fallen in love.
Pansexual: A person who is pansexual does not experience attraction to a certain gender. Their partner could be a cisgender man or woman, trans man or woman, or have no gender at all. This is different than bisexual because bisexual typically means that the person is attracted to those who fall on the binary of man and woman.
Queer: Once used as a slur and a hate word, this term has been reclaimed by LGBTQ+ members in the 1980s and 1990s during the AIDS epidemic and used as a word of empowerment for the community. Sexuality-wise, people who identify as queer simply don’t care about their partner’s gender. People who identify as queer may not want to label themselves as gay, or bisexual, or pansexual, but want to identify as non-straight. People who identify as non-binary, genderfluid, or agender can be referred to as queer. Genderqueer is also an umbrella term that is used on all non-heterosexual people who belong in the LGBTQ+ community.
The LGBTQ+ community still faces hate, but also is being integrated into society with portrayals of LGBTQ+ characters shown on screen and LGBTQ+ advocates speaking up. However, these are some lesser known sexual and gender orientations that are underrepresented in mass media and not discussed as much in society. This article is for everyone– hopefully spreading awareness to those who do not know about these orientations, and reinforcing validity and acceptance for those who identify as one of these sexualities or genders.