LGBTQ+ represents an umbrella acronym for sexual and gender identities. A therapist specializing in area of LGBTQ+ is one who is able to understand the historical, cultural, political, and social components that have impacted people or are relevant to people within the community represented by the acronym. Therapists who hold this specialty may be allies or members of this community.
Each LETTER has historical and relevant meaning. As the transformation of the acronym has shown, one that has become much more inclusive of gender identities as opposed to only sexual identities, each letter represents interpretations of terms that have evolved over time. From a sociopolitical perspective, the dominating interpretation of LGBTQ+ meanings have shifted away from purely scientific definitions of biological or genetic sex. Pervasive sociopolitical perspectives have emphasized people’s social interpretation of the term gender; one that is not inherently linked to one’s genetic sex. That is not to say that understandings of definitions illustrating the independence of sex and gender have disappeared. Rather it to say that gender has been recognized as a fluid social concept distinct from the genetically and scientifically defined understandings of sex, especially sex assignment at birth. The interpretive understandings behind the letters of the acronym will continue to morph as social norms reflect evolving definitions of sexual and gender identity.
L (Lesbian): Lesbian is a term for a female homosexual: a female who experiences romantic love or sexual attraction to other females. Lesbian is a term ascribed to a woman/woman-aligned person who is attracted to only people of the same/similar sex/gender (woman/woman-aligned person attracted to woman/woman-aligned person
G (Gay): Gay is a term for a male homosexual: a male who experiences romantic love or sexual attraction to other males. Gay is a term ascribed to a man/man-aligned person who is attracted to only people of the same/similar sex/gender (man/man-aligned person attracted to man/man-aligned person).
The interpretation of “gay” has shifted however to be more inclusive of the concept of same/similar sex/gender individuals being attracted to same/similar sex/gender individuals. Thus, the term lesbian and gay can refer to a woman/woman-aligned person attracted to woman/woman-aligned person. The opposite is not however socially accepted. The term lesbian is not used to define a man/man-aligned person attracted to man/man-aligned person).
To complicate matters, people who identify as bisexual and pansexual people sometimes use terms of gay or lesbian to refer to their current attractions when referring to themselves. These casual uses of the terms may reflect these individuals desire to place sexual and gender identity on a continuum that is time and socially dependent relative to their attraction.
B (Bisexual): Bisexual is a term used for a person who is attracted to the binary understanding of sex/gender and indicates attraction for both sexes/genders (male/female). Bisexual is differentiated from pansexual because bisexual recognizes only two interpretations of sex/gender.
T (Transgender): Transgender is a term that indicates that a person’s gender identity is different from the gender associated with the sex they were assigned at birth.
Q (Queer or Questioning): Queer is an umbrella term that places emphasis on sexual and gender identities that do not ascribe to cisgender identities. This means that queer encompasses sexual and gender identities where sex assigned at birth and gender do not match. Questioning refers to people who may be unsure of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity.
+ (Plus): The ‘plus’ is used to signify all gender identities and sexual orientations that are not specifically covered by the other five letters of the LGBTQ acronym. The ‘plus’ is not used to signify deviant sexual disorders, criminal sexual conduct, or identities associated with criminal sexual conduct.
Therapists at The Truism Center specializing in the area of LGBTQ+ welcome all people of sexual and gender identities, at any stage of identification, and they can help assist with “the coming out process” or clarification of aspects related to ‘questioning.’ Therapists in this area are also supportive and helpful to friends/family members of people who may ascribe to this community of identities.