LGBTQIQ+ and so much more in 2020

Welcome to 2020! A new decade.  It’s time to look toward the future and get rid of that excess baggage, toxic energy, and outdated way of thinking. If you are re-reading the title and thinking, “What are all these initials and why did you make them up?” Great question. I didn’t. I actually left a few (a lot) out.  Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, and Questioning.   These terms identify people’s gender identity, affectional orientation and gender expression.  Have I lost you yet?  No worries. I am hopefully going to shed a bit of light on what you should know about these things and help address some faux pas you may still be at risk of doing.


Gender Identity is how you identify your gender. What you feel like on the inside, not necessarily the sexual organs you have on the outside.  Chromosome’s no longer are the holy grail of gender identification.  Sometimes our genetic make-up (XX, XY) doesn’t add up to how we view ourselves internally.  I won’t get into all the other genetic combinations that exist, just know there are not only two options.  For those of you whose doctors got it right at birth and announced, “It’s a Boy!,” and you agree, you have a new title! You, my friend, are a Cisgender Male. For those of you who are cisgender, can you imagine what it would be like if magically you were given different sexual organs.  Suddenly you had breast or a penis. Would you then be a woman or a man just because you had new body parts?  Probably Not.  I am guessing you would still be a cisgender man or women and very confused.  You may even feel dysphoria.  Gender Dysphoria is what individuals may experience if they feel a disconnection from their body and their mind. For those of you whose doctors did not get it right, you may identify as a transgender female or male. **Notice, I did not say you are Transgendered.  It is not a noun.  It is an adjective.  You’re welcome.**  If this rings true for you, you identify with a gender you were not assigned at birth.  Some individuals don’t identify with any gender (Nonbinary) or embrace multiple genders (Genderfluid, Two-Spirit or other self-selected identity).  There are multiple ways to identify and this is only scratching the surface. My biggest hope, is that you start to think about gender that is not just assigned, but that is chosen, and the choice is not A or B but rather A, B, C, D, DA, BE, F, G, BCA, etc.


Let’s talk about sex. Formerly referred to as ‘sexual orientation’, affectional orientation refers to who we love and may have very little to do with sex or romance.  The focus is not on sex, but rather, who makes them happy.  Some individuals identify as asexual, meaning sex may not be the top priority or any priority for that matter.  Others are pansexual, where sex isn’t about your organs, it’s about who you are and what you bring to the table.  Some men like men, some women like women, and some just aren’t quite sure.  When talking about affectional orientation, it’s no longer just about sex and its absolutely not an A or B decision.


Now on to the really fun stuff.  Gender expression- how you present yourself. The rules are, there are no rules (most of the time).  This isn’t carte blanche to wearing your birthday suit down the street, or violating your employer/school mandated dress code, AND YET, sometimes rules are made to be changed.   You get to be who you are, and wear what you want. Some guys love wearing masculine attire, some women love wearing masculine attire.  Some women love wearing makeup, some men love wearing makeup.   These things have nothing to do with affectional orientation or gender identify.  A cisgender male could love to dress up in women’s clothing, wear makeup, AND have a wife and two kids.


Are you still lost? That’s okay. Most of us are.  The fact that you are reading this means you care enough to learn.  Gender Identity, Affectional Orientation and Gender Expression are always changing, moving and growing.  Never assume you know.  Always ask.  Be ready to be wrong and accept correction.  Ask people their pronoun of choice, even if you think you know, you don’t.  Ask yourself what is your preferred pronoun? How do you identify? How do you know?  Stretch your limits and knowledge.  Develop empathy.  Allow yourself to learn and allow others to grow and be who they are. Welcome to 2020!


For a more visual representation of the above information, please check out: