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LGBTQIA+ 101: What Do the Letters Mean?

L represents Lesbian. The term or identity Lesbian, describes an individual that identifies as a woman (yes, both cis and/or trans) and is primarily emotionally, physically, sexually, and/or spiritually attracted to women.

G represents Gay! The term or identity gay, describes an individual that identifies as a man (yes, both cis and/or trans) and is primarily emotionally, physically, sexually, and/or spiritually attracted to men. The term Gay is also used generally to describe individuals who are primarily emotionally, physically, sexually, and/or spiritually attracted to those of the same sex and/or gender. 

B represents Bisexual (Bi)! The term or identity Bisexual, describes individuals who are emotionally, physically, sexually, and/or spiritually attracted to more than one gender. Those who identify as bisexual aren’t “greedy” or “confused”, their identity is valid.

T represents Transgender (Trans)! The term or identity Transgender, describes individuals whose gender identity is different from the gender assumed at birth. Fun fact, those who identify as a trans female are equally as female as those who identify as a cis female. Transgender refers to gender identity, not sexual orientation or preference. 

Q represents Queer OR Questioning! The term or identity Queer, is an umbrella term for people who don’t identify as heterosexual and/or cisgender. Queer is also used interchangeably with the acronyms LGBT, LGBTQIA, LGBTQIA+, etc., to represent the community as a whole 🏳️‍🌈. However, Queer is not always a preferred term or identity for those within the LGBTQIA+ community, due to is historical use as a derogatory term.


Q is also used to represent the term or identity, Questioning. Questioning represents an individual that is unsure about and/or is exploring their own sexual orientation and/or gender identity.

I represents Intersex! Intersex is a term for a combination of chromosomes, hormones, sex organs, or genitals that differs from the male/female binary. For example, a person might be born appearing to be female on the outside, but having mostly male-typical anatomy on the inside. A person may be born with mosaic genetics, so that some of her cells have XX chromosomes and some of them have XY. Interesting fact: Intersex is often thought of as an inborn condition, though intersex anatomy doesn’t always show up at birth. Sometimes a person isn’t found to have intersex anatomy until they reach the age of puberty, or finds themself as an infertile adult. Some people live and die with intersex anatomy without anyone (including themselves) ever knowing.
Reference: https://isna.org/faq/what_is_intersex/

A represents Asexual! The term or identity Asexual, describes individuals who experienced little or no sexual attraction to others and/or lack of interest in sexual relationships and/or behaviors. Asexual is also used as an umbrella term, for additional identities within the spectrum of sexual orientation. Myth buster: People who consider themselves asexual may have relationships, but they would not have the interest in adding a sexual component to the relationship. Individuals that identify as asexual can and do have romantic relationships with others.

➕ represents the inclusion of all identities within the LGBTQIA+ community! The ➕ represents identities, genders, and orientations that fall under umbrella terms used within and outside of the LGBTQIA+ acronym.
Some (but not all) of the identities represented by the ➕ include: Pansexual, Fluidity, and Demisexual.
Pansexual (Pan) refers someone who is emotionally, physically, spiritually, and sexually attracted to all gender indentured. As @instadanjlevy wrote in @schittscreek episode 10 of season 1 for his character David that identifies as Pansexual, “I like the wine and not the label.” (see next picture from Andrea Van Sickle on fb)
Fluidity (or Gender Fluid) refers to a gender identity that may shift or change over time.
Demisexual is a term or identity that represents an individual that has little or no sexual attraction to another individual, unless there is romantic connection/involvement. This term or identity is mostly considered to be under the umbrella of Asexuality, though some view it separately.

GQ represents Gender Queer! The term or identity Gender Queer, is an umbrella term for those who identify as Gender Non Conforming (GNC) or Non-Binary. It is a gender identity label that is used by those who may identify outside of the societal gender binary (male/female). Gender nonconformity, is an identity or gender expression by an individual that does not match expected/societal masculine or feminine gender norms.
It is important to note that the term Queer is not accepted by all within the community, due to the derogatory use of the term throughout history. A L W A Y S ask an individual, “How would you like to be identified.”

Hello it’s me! Your NB OT! NB represents Non Binary! The term or identity Non Binary describes an individual who does not identify with the assumed gender binary, male or female. It includes a spectrum of gender identities that are not exclusively masculine or feminine. For all of my OT and healthcare friends, think of gender as a spectrum, just as we view some neuro diversities (ASD) as a spectrum. Real talk, what does this identity mean to me? Non Binary means freedom. Freedom from societal pressure to be X or Y. I can wear makeup, have a beard, wear heels, and engage in whatever occupation I want because all of it is ME. I don’t identify as male or female, I am non binary. I do not engage in occupations because they are ‘inherently’ masculine or feminine, I engage in them because they are meaningful to me and hold no relevance to gender or societal expectations. I am comfortable with he/him pronouns but they/them pronouns best represent ME, to the core of my being. I’m still exploring and adding new pieces to my identity puzzle and I have never felt more true to myself in my whole life. It’s okay to still not know who you are, but know I am a safe space for you and am here to protect, love, support, and include you. Your identity matters. Please note that gender identities and sexual orientations can be dynamic and change or evolve over time, even from day to day. Remember to A L W A Y S ask an individual, “How would you like to be identified.” Don’t argue with their identity, honor it.

C represents Cisgender (cis)! The term or identity Cisgender is a gender description for when someone’s sex assigned at birth and gender identity/ personal identity correspond in the “expected” way. Remember, gender identity does not include sexual orientation or identity. An individual could identify as cisgender and heterosexual, or within any identity of the LGBTQIA+ community.


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My story

I always found the idea of ‘coming out’ as strange or forced, but like many other LGBTQIA+ individuals I went through the same process on my journey to self-discovery and establishing my identity. I came out “officially” at the age of 17, or as I would prefer to say it, I started to let people in to who I am at 17. That is the same age that I decided to pursue an education in occupational therapy.

I applied to 9 schools originally and decided to attend D’Youville College in Buffalo, NY for my combined BS and MS of human occupation and occupational therapy. OT school was challenging, energizing, and fulfilling. I was fortunate to have incredible faculty, family, and friends who supported and challenged me with my crazy ideas like starting a community wellness clinic on campus or creating the official D’Youville OT instagram page – which is where the idea of @therainbowot grew from.

It was during professional development lecture in my final year of OT school where I found enough passion and frustration to start my lifelong mission for enhancing education, inclusion, representation, and advocacy for those within the LGBTQIA+ community, inside and outside of healthcare settings. I was so excited in class when we finally had a lecture where part of the class discussion was designated to address LGBT topics in OT. There was an objective to cover vast cultures including Korean and Latinx culture in a two hour span, leaving little time to cover all of the material, including LGBT+ topics. Without saying any names, it was clear to me that the professor was unprepared to answer questions about LGBT+ topics, especially those surrounding trans individuals – so the spotlight was turned to me (the token gay person). This wasn’t a new situation to me or the first time that I was placed with the responsibility to discuss LGBT+ topics in a class. I remember feeling powerful, frustrated, and concerned. There is a great amount of pressure when discussing topics and identities of the LGBT+ community, especially when my identity of being a white, gay, male (sex) does not come close to representing the entire community. It’s important to note that at the time of this class, I hadn’t really started acknowledging my non-binary identity, so I identified as a male. My concern came from the fact that I was one student, unable to represent or educate on all LGBT+ topics in only one section of the class. What did the other sections talk about? Did they discuss what it means to be trans? Did anyone validate the trans identity or provide definitions for the letters of the acronym? From there, the fire was lit to go on my own path of providing education and resources to anyone regarding these topics and more.

Where are we now? Well, The Rainbow OT has been running for just about a year. I launched my first LGBTQIA+ 101 series, a pronoun promise campaign, and have been a guest on two podcasts discussing LGBT+ related topics and occupational therapy’s role. With the support and safe space provided for friends that I owe the world to, I was able to let others in to who I am, a proud non-binary individual. I’m still in the beginning of my journey to self-discovery, but I am so happy with where I am when I look back at where I was. Where are we going next? You’ll just have to tag along and see.

XX,

Devlynn Neu

They/Them

The Rainbow OT

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Resources

LGBTQIA+ Resources for Healthcare Providers, Clients, and Families

The Coalition of Occupational Therapy Advocates for Diversity

The Network for LGBTQIA+ Occupational Therapists

The LGBT OT, resource for LGBT+ specific OT practice and clients. By: Jadyn Sharber, MSOT, OTR/L.

The National Resource Center on LGBT Aging (SAGE) Advocacy for LGBT+ Adult and Elderly Populations

GLMA: Health Professionals Advancing LGBTQ Equality (previously known as the Gay & Lesbian Medical Association)

LGBTData.com serves as a no-cost, open-access clearinghouse for the collection of sexual orientation & gender identity data and measures. (By Dr. Randall Sell)

NALGAP: The Association of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Addiction Professionals and Their Allies is a membership organization founded in 1979 and dedicated to the prevention and treatment of alcoholism, substance abuse, and other addictions in lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer communities.

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Health

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is working with national and local organizations to endure the LGBT community get quality health insurance and health care information.

LGBTQIA+ Educational Podcast Episodes: