LGBTQIA 101: Sex & Sexuality

Sex, gender, and gender identity are different than sexual orientation. A person assigned as male at birth might identify as a transgender female. They may express their gender in a butch way and be attracted to feminine women and identify as queer. There are as many ways of identifying with sex, gender and sexual orientation as there are people in the world.

Sexual orientation describes emotional, romantic, spiritual, and/or sexual attraction to people.  Sexual identity is a way of differentiating and labeling our orientation. A person can identity as transgender and straight, or cisgender and queer, and do so because sexual orientation is completely different from gender identity. There is no right or wrong way to identify your sexual orientation. Being part of a community with the same sense of identity is also a significant part of our sexual orientation.

Sexual orientation is also different from sexual behaviors. Because of social stigmas and pressures, and because our culture wants to label a behavior with an identity, folks might have sexual experiences with the same sex but not identify as gay lesbian, or bisexual. Sexual behaviors do not have to determine sexual orientation or identity.

The most commonly used terms for sexual identity include: asexual, bisexual, demi sexual, gay, heterosexual (straight), lesbian, pansexual, queer, questioning, same gender loving, two spirit, and more.

LGBTQIA is a social and political acronym used to identify a group of individuals and communities that share common cultural factors based on sexual orientation and gender identity. There are many differences within the LGBTQIA communities, and many ways of expressing and identifying within LGBTQIA communities. 

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