Over the last decade, a number of terms have arisen that aim to describe people who do not follow traditional patterns of sexuality and gender. The most common designation used is probably LGBT or LGBTQ. But other terms exist like: LGBT*, LGTBQ2, LGBTQI2S, LGBTTIQQ2SA, and LGBTQQIP2SAA. If you are like me, you have probably struggled to understand what each of these letters stands for. So here’s a guide to help you to understand accurately what these terms mean.
Egale Canada Human Rights Trust defines LGBTQ as:
T: Transgender, transsexual, and two-spirit
Q: Queer and questioning
The organization further defines terms, clearing up possible confusion. For example, a transgender person does not identify with their “assigned sex” at birth. A transsexual person also does not identify with their assigned sex at birth, but they may go further than a transgender person by physically changing their body and “gender expression to correspond with their gender identity.”
A two-spirit person is somewhat unlike others on this list. A two-spirit person is an aboriginal person who uses the identifier two-spirit rather than, for example, gay.
The term queer formerly was slur but is now used as a term of pride for LGBT persons. A questioning person is “unsure of their sexual orientation of gender identity.”
These are the basics, but the LGBTQ acronym has expanded. The Canadian Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce uses the term LGBT*. The * appears to refer to two-spirited and intersex persons. The Egale Canada Human Rights Trust prefers the term LGBTQI2S. Our Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, recently used LGTBQ2 “to include First Nations’ two-spirited communities.” Even the the “2” here is not secure, because the two-spirit has acronym has been called T, 2, or 2S at various times. In the past, Pride Toronto has used LGBTTIQQ2SA, referring to “‘a broad array of identities such as, but not limited to, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual, transgender, intersex, queer, questioning, two-spirited, and allies.'” A longer version of the term also exists: LGBTQQIP2SAA. Sometimes a K is added as in LGBTQIAPK or LGGBTQQIAAPPK
The longer version makes explicit what the term LGBTQ makes implicit. It also adds other kinds persons to the group. According to Huffingpost, the letters beyond LGBT mean:
QQ: Questioning and queer
A: Ally (a person who is not LGBTQ but supports LGBTQ persons)
Intersex refers to “people born with anatomy or chromosomal makeup that doesn’t correspond to male or female.” Pansexual refers to a person who “[c]an be attracted to all members of all gender identities and biological sexes.” Asexual does not refer to a biological description but to person who is not sexually attracted to others. When K is added to the phrase, it stands for “kink.” The term kink includes persons who are into bondage and fetishes.
While the nomenclature will probably be updated again, this guide should at least help you to understand what people mean by terms like LGBTQ and so on. If I have made a mistake or missed something important, please let me know in the comments.