I serve on the Board of a non-profit organization that works to educate service providers about the unique challenges and issues that a gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender (GLBT) elder experiences in life. Our primary format for this is through dissemination of a curriculum we developed. I wanted to share a piece of that curriculum. It was designed by researchers, practitioners and GLBT community members. It is by no way the only paradigm, but a good one for understanding sexual orientation and gender identity.
First, I use the acronym GLBT. That is because I am in the midwest. On the coasts the acronym that is used more often is LGBT. They are interchangeable and I mean no disrespect to other communities by putting G first. It is the social more in my region.Sexual Orientation
Sexual orientation is your attraction to an individual. Heterosexual
: individuals attracted to people of the opposite assigned gender.Homosexual
: individuals attracted to people of the same gender.Bisexual
: individuals attracted to either people of the same or opposite gender. Often this is also called "Queer."
SO is a continuum that can be depicted as such:Gender Identity
Gender identity can sometimes be a little more complex to grasp. This is probably due to the increase in awareness of the gay community and depiction of gay people in the media. This is not so for people within the transgender community. Gender identity is how you present yourself regardless of your assigned gender at birth. Cisgender
: individuals that express themselves as their biologically (or birth assigned) gender. (from cis meaning same)Transgender
: individuals that express themselves as the opposite of their biologically (or birth assigned) gender.Gender Queer
: individuals that do not associate with cisgender or transgender labels. Often these individuals utilize the pronouns ze (rather than he/she) and hir (pronounced here, rather than him/her).
GI is also a continuum that can be depicted as such:
Other terms and confused?
I have noticed that Elliquiy uses a wide array of terms including pansexual and others. The intent is inclusiveness. We should be respectful of how individuals define themselves. I merely am showing a paradigm that is accepted in the United States by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and other national advocacy organizations.
The best thing you can do is be respectful and ask. Most people are willing to help educate people about gender identity and sexual orientation. The bottom line is it is all about respect.