Texas Tech University

Understanding LGBTQIA Identities

Awareness of the many identities within the acronym is a common experience of many people. For example, someone who identifies as gay may not understand the journey of a transgender person. Allies, those who do not necessarily identity as part of the community, but works to end oppression through support and advocacy, may not be aware of the many identities found in the LGBTQIA community. 

We use the acronym LGBTQIA at Tech to stand for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, (questioning), intersex, asexual, and (agender). While we do this with intentionality, it is still possible to hear many variations of the acronym in use on our campus (i.e. LGBT, LGBTQ, etc.).

When thinking about all these different identities, they all fall within several buckets: Gender Expression; Gender Identity; Sex Assigned at Birth; and Sexual and Romantic Orientation. The terminology used these identities is extensive and that is a good thing as it gives added ability for labeling (labels are not all bad - some are very affirming). There are many great resources available. One of these was compiled by the University of California, Riverside's LGBTQIA office (click to download). Note: This is an extensive list of terminology. It can be overwhelming for someone just looking for basic information. Do not let it be a deterrence as the information is good. Use what you can, process it, and circle back for more whenever you are ready.

Another resource, albeit abridged, that some find helpful in talking about the LGBTQIA community was developed by the Movement Advancement Project. This Ally's Guide (click to download) also gives several frequently misused terms and why they are problematic. 

Trans Student Educational Resources developed The Gender Unicorn to help many people tie these identities together in the broader buckets or categories referenced earlier. The Gender Unicorn is a simple visual representation of the differences between gender identity, gender expression, sex assigned at birth, and physical and emotional attraction.

Gender Unicorn Graphic by Trans Student Educational Resources: http://transstudent.org/what-we-do/graphics/gender-unicorn/

Additional Resources

 Gender Unicorn Logo Cropped