As queer terms are not always understood intuitively, we’ve come up with this FAQ section. We’ve tried to keep it as short and simple to understand as possible, but have provided some great links to use as resources if you wish to do some further reading.
When reading this, please feel free to e-mail us with any feedback/concerns about any wording or phrasing. We are always aiming to improve and are aware that terminology, and the queer world, are continuously evolving, and we want to evolve with it!
The word queer can have different connotations. One is the umbrella term for LGBTQIA+, and another one is the defiance of heteronormativity and the gender binary. Some people use the term queer when they don’t feel any real connection to other terms, or find other terms too restrictive.
Agender: a person who identifies as having no gender.
Cisgender: To be cis means you identify with the gender you were assigned at birth. But, like most dyadic systems, gender is in fact more of a spectrum between and beyond the dominant categories. Some people, for different reasons, can’t be assigned a gender at birth (see “intersex”).
Gender: Gender is a convoluted linking between your sex and also your understanding of yourself as male, female, both, or neither, and how you express this. Sex and gender are both social constructs, which means they exist only because of humans’ historical and cultural developments. Queer theorists like Judith Butler even reject dividing sex and gender because of the constructiveness and tight correlation of both of them. Gender is performative, which means we reproduce gender by “doing gender” every day.
Gender binary: a construct that divides people into two genders: male or female. Using this binary model excludes areas of grey and is a rigid idea, one that is seen as absolute. You are either male or female, and this is clearly a destructive and divisive idea. This sucks, and the gender binary is the root of all evil regarding many forms of inequality.
Genderfluid: refers to gender which can vary over time, or at random, or in response to different circumstances. A genderfluid person may at any given time identify as non-binary, a man, a woman, any combination of these, or simply no gender. For some people this “switch” between genders may happen a few times a day or every few weeks or months–every person’s experience is unique and valid.
Genderqueer: A genderqueer person is someone who does not live by traditional ideas of gender. Rather, they can identify with having an overlap between several genders (for example, woman and non-binary; man and woman; man, woman and non-binary), having more than one gender, having no gender, and/or being genderfluid (see above).
Intersex: Intersex people are people who are born with bodies that are not typically or exclusively “male” or “female”. This usually only applies to external sex organs, as nothing else is generally examined at birth. In some countries, parents have recently been given the opportunity to leave the gender assignment blank when their child is intersex. However, a lot of social pressure still exists for those parents, as being either “female” or “male” is of fundamental importance for human beings within many societies. A lot of intersex people have been, and still are, put through gender reassignment surgery after birth, against their will (as infants cannot consent), and very often parents are very misinformed about the decisions they are making. Some intersex people may only notice that they are intersex during puberty. Intersex people identify as they see fit, be it as men or women, cis or trans, intersex, non-binary, genderqueer, gay, lesbian, bisexual, straight, etc.
Non-binary: is a term used by people who do not fit within the gender binary. It is also called NB or “enby”.
Pronouns: the way people refer to themselves and prefer others refer to them. Pronouns can include: they/them, she/her, he/him, ze/zer, zie/zim. Always use the pronouns someone asks you to and never assume a person’s pronouns.
Sex: Sex and Gender are both social constructs, which means they exist only because of cultural developments throughout history. However, sex is most often used to describe biological and anatomical differences. This can be defined by using: hormones, chromosomes, enzymes, and internal and external sex organs. However, this is not as simple as “masculine” and “feminine”. Modern biology speaks of at least 6 different sexes, if only looking at chromosomes. Add enzymes, sex organs, and hormones to that – well, you can do the math. Sex is not the simple “masculine” and “feminine” thought by many.
Trans: People who are trans often have a different gender identity, or gender expression, than that of which they were assigned at birth. But, like most dyadic systems, gender is in fact more of a spectrum between and beyond the dominant categories. Some people, for different reasons, can’t be assigned a gender at birth (see “intersex”).
ATTRACTION AND ROMANCE
A person’s sexual attraction does not necessarily have any bearing on their romantic attraction. A person’s romantic attraction does not necessarily have any bearing on their sexual attraction. Many people identify with more than one of the below terms.
Aromantic: An aromantic person is someone who doesn’t experience romantic attraction to any gender. This does not mean aromantic people do not feel love: love is a complex emotion, and exists on many levels: between parent and child, friends, cousins, siblings.
Asexual: Also known as “Ace”. Traditionally, asexuality was considered to mean people who do not experience sexual attraction towards any gender. However, it is now understood to be a spectrum. Some asexual people never have sex. Some asexual people fall in love. Some asexual people are disgusted by sex. Some are not fussed, and will participate to keep their partner happy or to reproduce.
Biromantic: a person who is romantically attracted to two or more different genders.
Bisexual: a person who is attracted to/falls in love with two or more genders. It does not just mean two, and those two genders can be any! There’s a misconception that it must be “your gender” plus the “opposite” gender. However, you could be a woman attracted to men and non-binary people. Or a non-binary person attracted to other non-binary people and women. Or a man attracted to women, men, and genderfluid people.
Demiromantic: A person who is demiromantic only develops romantic attraction after a deep, emotional connection has developed.
Demisexual: A person who is demisexual only develops sexual attraction after a deep, emotional connection has developed.
Gay: men who are attracted to and/or fall in love with other men. This word has, at times, been used in the same way as queer, meaning anyone who identifies within the LGBTAI+ spectrum. At Queer Pack, however, we only use gay for men who love/are attracted to men due to the strong connotations this word has with only men. We feel it cannot be inclusive enough.
Grey-A: a person who sits in the greyer area between sexual and asexual
Homoromantic: a person who is romantically attracted to people of the same gender.
Heteroromantic: a person who is romantically attracted to people of a gender different to their own.
Lesbian: women who are attracted to and/or fall in love with other women
Panromantic: a person who is romantically attracted to a person irrespective of gender.
Pansexual: Pansexual people are attracted to a person regardless of gender.
Monoamory: A person who only wants one romantic and/or sexual relationship at a time.
Platonic: Loving/liking/being affectionate with a person without it being sexual.
Polyamory: Not monogamous. Having more than one romantic and/or sexual relationship at a time, in which all people involved are aware and consent.
Poly relationship: A relationship made up of three or more people.
Queerplatonic: Having a close relationship with someone that is more intense emotionally, and more intimate, than is considered common for a friendship. The level of commitment involved is sometimes thought to be similar to a typical romantic relationship. Some people in a queerplatonic relationship will use the terms partners/life-partner etc.
SUGGESTED LINKS TO LEARN MORE
- Asexuality Archive
- Genderspectrum: Understanding Gender
- Ginger Bread Person: Explaining Gender
- Nonbinary.org: Nonbinary Gender
- Nonbinary.org: Gender Binary
- Nonbinary Resource at Tumblr
- The United States affiliate of the Organization Intersex International (OII)
- What Is Asexuality?