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By: Ash Easton {she/him/theirs}

On Monday, October 31st, the health center put on an event called Podcasts & Pumpkins, where they played podcasts that were body image positivity centered. One of the podcasts in specific, Vivienne McMaster’s Be Your Own Beloved, spoke about body image problems within the LGBTQIQAP+ community but more specifically within the Trans/ Gender Non-conforming community. The transgender community as a whole is more likely to experience body image related disorders (STATS). Because of this, coupled with the negative stigma that surrounds the community as well, trans people are more likely to commit suicide. In this way committing to being “Fat Talk Free,” as the Health Center so accurately has coined, helps your trans siblings and creates a more positive environment for everyone.

In recognition of Trans Day of Remembrance, as well as, the many trans persons who have lost their life over the past couple of weeks, I’d also like to speak on body image issues that stem from dysphoria and the stigma that “trans-ness” has to look a certain way. Even cis-gender people have the pressure to look a certain way, but trans people get that extra layer of being pressured to conform to societal standards. As a nonbinary trans person myself, I have been able to use stereotypes of how a man “should” look or how a woman “should” look in order to pass, and honestly I shouldn’t have to. Curves, stretch marks, body hair, acne and scars are universal regardless of gender. Makeup, dresses, nail polish, and clothes are genderless; wear what you are comfortable with and respect others clothing decisions. Humans as a whole have flaws and I feel that the first step to changing our world is to recognize that. I myself had to realize over the past year that as long as I’m comfortable, what I wear doesn’t determine my gender; I am the only one that feels and experiences my gender every day and I get the ultimate say on how I express that.

Queer Dictionary

A

Ace: Slang term for Asexual commonly adopted by members of the community

Acronym: LGBTQIQAP+ is the Queer acronym, each letter represents a queer identity; also seen as LGBT, LGBTQ, LGBTQ+, GLBT, QUILTBAG; L became the first letter in the acronym as a concession to Queer women during the gay liberation movement which often focused on the issues of cis gay men; the plus sign is now commonly adopted at the end of the acronym to promote the inclusion of identities whose names start with letters not currently represented on an acronym

Activism: Efforts to promote or direct social, political, and economic change; Queer activism often includes the promotion of equality for sexual and gender minorities and rights for members of the Queer Community

Advocate: Someone who publicly supports or champions a particular cause or movement, or engages heavily in activism; see Allyship

Agender : Someone who does not identify with a gender or identifies with a gender to very low degrees

Allyship: A verb used to describe acts of advocacy and activism for the Queer Community; an individual outside of the community (and thus not on the acronym) who works to directly and positively impact the lives of those within the Queer Community

Androgynous : A combination of masculine and feminine qualities; can be a marker for Gender Identity or Gender Expression

Aro: Slang term for Aromantic commonly adopted by members of the community

Aromantic: someone who experiences no or infrequent romantic attraction; does not mean individuals cannot form meaningful relationships or cannot display emotion

Asexual: someone who experiences no or infrequent sexual attraction; is not the same as celibacy or abstinence; does not mean individuals cannot form meaningful relationships; a broad term used to describe Asexual, Demisexual, and Gray-A identities

B

Ball/Ball Culture: An American LGBT subculture where people often perform a gender in one of many categories and walk/compete to win trophies and prizes for different aspects of their performances at balls dating back to the 1960s

Bicurious: Someone who is primarily attracted to a gender dissimilar to their own but is curious about attraction to people who identify with another gender

Bigender: Someone who identifies with more than one gender; this can mean identifying with multiple genders to equal degrees at a given moment, identifying more strongly with one gender than another, or any given combination of degrees to identification

Biphobia: An aversion to bisexuality and bisexual identified people and is often the source of discrimination against individuals who identify as bisexual and may be based on negative stereotypes; biphobia can exist vertically from people outside of the Queer Community as well as horizontally from individuals identified within the Queer Community

Bi-romantic: Someone who is romantically attracted to more than one gender; alternatively it used to be described as someone who is romantically attracted to two genders or men and women

Bisexual: Someone who is sexually attracted to more than one gender; alternatively it has historically used to be described as someone who is sexually attracted to two genders or men and women

Bottom Surgery: Surgery performed on the genitalia as part of a Gender Confirmation Surgery

Butch: A way to describe individuals with masculine identities or those who present masculine

C

Cisgender: Someone whose gender identity fits societal expectations for their sex assigned at birth, e.g. someone who is assigned male at birth and identifies as a man

Cissexism: The appeal to the gender binary that results in the oppression of Gender Variant, Gender Nonconforming, and Transgender individuals

Coming Out: When someone tells another/others about their identities, be they sexual, romantic, gender, etc.

Constellation of Identity: Instead of a spectrum, identities can be seen as a constellation where each identity or definition of a specific identity make up a star/point, no one identity is prioritised even when certain identities may appear more visible at times; This is done to avoid binaries and hierarchies

Crossdressing: Someone dressing as a gender other than their own, this does not indicate a trans identity, it is often as a performance or a way to perform another gender

D

Demisexual: Someone who only experiences sexual attraction after they have established a close, personal relationship with someone or formed an emotional attachment to someone; different from Demiromantic

Demiromantic: Someone who only experiences romantic attraction after they have established a close, personal relationship with someone or formed an emotional attachment to someone; different from Demisexual

DFAB: an acronym standing for “Designated Female at Birth”; used to reference the sex category an individual was placed in at birth and may or may not be the same term to denote their gender identity

Discrimination: Treatment or distinction against a certain group or an individual based on their belonging to or affiliation with a certain group

DMAB: an acronym standing for “Designated Male at Birth”; used to reference the sex category an individual was placed in at birth and may or may not be the same term to denote their gender identity

Drag: The act of performing a gender other than an individual’s own, often in an over-the-top, hyper-expressive, and exaggerated way; performing in drag is not necessarily indicative or a Transgender or Gender Nonconforming identity

Drag King: An individual performing a masculine identity and personifying male stereotypes; also known as a Male Illusionist

Drag Queen: An individual performing as a feminine identity and personifying female stereotypes; also known as a Female Illusionist

F

Faggot: A slur used against the Queer Community, often against gay men, originating in the US and used primarily in other English-speaking countries; has in some circles been reclaimed but remains largely offensive especially when used by individuals outside the Queer Community

Female-Bodied: A term used for people who were designated or assigned female at birth (falling out of favour); A person who identifies as having had or currently having a female body

Female Illusionist: An individual performing as a feminine identity and personifying female stereotypes; also known as a Drag Queen

Femme: A feminine identity or presentation; a way to describe a feminine presentation

Fluid: A change in attraction/identity over time or experience within a range that is not necessarily consistent; can refer to an individual’s gender identity, sexual orientation, and romantic orientation

FTM/F2M: Short for “Female to Male”; describes someone who was designated female at birth and identifies as male

G

Gay: Someone who is attracted to people who share their gender identity; most often refers to men who are attracted to men although many individuals of other genders often use this term to signify community; was initially the first letter of the acronym for the Queer Community but was replaced in order to raise the voices of non-male queer identified individuals

Gray-A(sexual): Someone who infrquently experiences sexual attraction; someone who has a fluctuating level of sexual attraction or experiences sexual attraction in specific circumstances or with specific levels of personal engagement

Gender: how you personally align with your understanding of the options for your “state of being;” a label not dependent on any physical markers and exists beyond simply “male” or “female” to include Transgender and Gender Nonconforming identities; see the Gender Constellation Handout for a more comprehensive look at some potential gender identities

Genderfluid: Someone who experiences a range of femininity, masculinity, and other genders; a gender identity that often moves across a range of genders and can fluctuate in terms of which gender identity feels dominant in any given moment

Genderfuck: Similar to gender bending, this is the act of bending stereotypical gender expressions/performances often resulting in a mix of masculine and feminine presentation

Genderless: An identity in which the person does not identify with a gender; see Agender

Gender Binary: The social construction of gender that only allows for two genders, male and female; often excludes and disenfranchises the experiences of individuals who identity and/or express their gender outside of these rigid categories

Gender Bending: A challenge to the norms of gender and the gender binary as well as overly generalised assumptions made about gender; often takes place in the form of actions or expression; the act of gender bending does not indicate a Transgender identity or allow other to make any assumptions about the gender identity of the individual engaged in the gender bending

Gender Confirming Surgery: medical procedures that allow an individual to have primary or secondary sex characteristics that affirm their gender identity; access to and coverage of these services has a complicated and expensive history with medical providers; surgeries and procedures can be administered to non-trans individuals as well, although this is less common

Gender Dysphoria: Serious discontent with one’s sex and gender that were assigned at birth; often described as feeling out of place or confused by the body an individual sees in the mirror; a disconnect between what a person’s internal sense of gender identity dictates they should see and how they and the rest of the world perceive them

Gender Expression: The way that a person shows or expresses their gender identity, often through actions, dress, demeanor, or perceived gender; there is no necessary link between this and your gender identity

Gender Inclusive: Language of facilities that take care to include all genders; spaces that promote the needs of all individuals and recognize the different needs individuals may have based on their specific gender; there is a strong push now among advocates to use this terminology over Gender Neutral terminology

Gender Neutral: Language or facilities that are used without pertaining to a certain gender; eliminating the use of gendered language when there is no need for it; can be used to describe pronouns, objects, clothing, and a personal identity

Gender NonConforming: A gender identity in which the person does not conform or comply with the standards society sets for gender or a particular gender; this gender can present or express itself in any number of ways; asking an individual what how they personally define their gender is always the safest course of action

Gender Performance: How someone performs or acts their gender or another gender, including their role(s) in society, their interactions with their partner(s), how they carry themselves, etc.; see also Gender Expression

Genderqueer: Someone who does not conform to traditional gender distinctions, is a broad term with many individual definitions that vary in identification with feminine, masculine, and other gender identities and characteristics; asking an individual what how they personally define their gender is always the safest course of action

Gender Role: Social expectations for different genders on how to speak, dress, act, and relate to others in society based on the binarized notion of gender

Gender Variant: Gender expression that does not fit within social expectations for a given gender role

H

Hermaphrodite: An outdated and offensive term often used as a slur against Intersex identified people that refers to an individual holding both fully formed and functioning male and female genitalia; this is biologically impossible in humans

Heteronormative: The assumption that being heterosexual/heterosexual relationships are the norm and therefore that queer individuals are a deviation of the norm

Heteroromantic: Someone who is romantically attracted to people with a gender different and perceived as ‘opposite’ from than their own

Heterosexist: A system of attitudes, biases, and discrimination that favours heterosexual relationships and those who identify as heterosexual

Hetersexual Privilege: The invisible and unearned rights of being perceived as normal and non-deviant and being the dominant social group in regards to sexuality; this is often played out by never having to worry about directly disclosing your sexual or romantic identity, people’s reactions to your partner’s gender or expression, or whether or not your hiring/firing was due to your identity

Homophobia: An aversion to homosexuality and homosexual people and is often the source of discrimination against individuals who identify as homosexual and may be based on negative stereotypes; has also been applied as an aversion to queer identified individuals or an expression of queer identities

Homoromantic: Someone who is romantically attracted to members of their same gender

Homosexual: Someone who is sexually attracted to members of their same gender; some individuals use this term in a Transgender inclusive manner while others are attracted to specific primary and secondary sex characteristics of individuals of their same sex assigned at birth

Hormone Therapy: The use of hormones as medical treatment; in the context of the Queer Community it is often part of a transition to another gender to alter secondary sex characteristics and as a possible precursor to Gender Confirmation Surgery

I

Inclusive: Not excluding any part; deliberately avoiding language and behaviour that are exclusionary to one or more groups

Institutional Oppression: Systematic mistreatment of people in a specific social group, supported and institutionalised by society and social institutions

Intersectionality: the recognition that individuals hold more than one identity and exist within any number of identity spaces at any given time; these intersections of identity create overlapping oppressions and different levels of privilege; an awareness of intersectionality lets individuals consider how other identities people hold within a particular group can affect how society sees them and their level of privilege

Intersex: Someone who exhibits biological characteristics of male and female, resulting in atypical hormone levels, ambiguous or non-“normatively” formed genitalia, XXY chromosomes, and/or secondary sex characteristics atypical for that person’s sex assigned at birth; the parents and/or doctors of intersex individuals often chose the sex to assign the individual moments after their birth, however, no surgery or medical treatment is imperative for an intersex individual; intersex individuals occur in approximately 1 in 1500-2000 births

Internalised Oppression: When members of an oppressed group as a whole or individuals begin to believe the negative stereotypes, thoughts, and ideas that people outside of the group think/feel, often resulting in people acting out or fulfilling negative stereotypes

In the Closet: When a person is not out or open about their sexual or romantic orientation(s) or gender identity

K

Kinsey Scale: A scale of socio-sexual behaviour and attraction based on a scale that rates from 0 to 6 with one end being exclusively homosexual and the other being exclusively heterosexual and an x representing no socio-sexual behaviour or experiences; this scale is outdated and exclusionary because it only operates on a scale that allows for attraction to men and women in terms of homosexuality or heterosexuality and equates experience with identity

L

Lesbian: Someone who identifies as a woman and is sexually attracted to other people who identify as women

Lifestyle: A particular way of living, Queer people are often described as having the same lifestyle by people outside the community as a way to lump all Queer identities together; additionally, this term can reduce identities to a choice when they are not

M

Male-Bodied: A term used for people who were designated or assigned male at birth (falling out of favour); A person who identifies as having had or currently having a male body

Male Illusionist: An individual performing a masculine identity and personifying male stereotypes; also known as a Drag King

Metrosexual: A term coined in the 1990s as a combination of “metropolitan” and “sexual” used to describe a well-groomed, heterosexual man who is meticulous about his appearance for which many people would assume him to be gay; this is based off of stereotypes about gay men and their appearance

Middle Sexuality: A broad term for sexual orientations where a person is attracted to more than one gender; for example: Pansexuality, Bisexuality, and Queer, etc.

MTF/M2F : Short for “Male to Female” and describes someone who was assigned male at birth and identifies as female

N
Non-Binary : A broad term that can describe gender identities that exist outside of the gender binary which only includes male and female

O

Omnisexual : Someone who can become sexually attracted to any gender

Outing : As in “Outing Someone” or revealing their sexual orientation and/or gender identity to others, sometimes without the person’s consent or knowing; related to Coming Out of the Closet

P

Panromantic: Someone who experiences romantic attraction regardless of gender; alternatively, someone who is romantically attracted to all genders

Pansexual: Someone who experiences sexual attraction regardless of gender; alternatively, someone who is sexually attracted to all genders

Passing: The ability to be seen by strangers and society at large as heterosexual and/or as a binary gender identity, also called blending

Passing Privilege: The privilege that comes with the ability to pass; this often reduces harassment and discrimination as society sees the person with this privilege as the norm

Plus/+: Frequently seen at the end of the acronym, the plus sign represents the multitude of other identities that exist; is given it’s own space in the acronym to to highlight their importance and keep the acronym short enough that it is palatable to the general public

Polyamory: The practice, desire, or acceptance of intimate relationships, romantic and/or sexual, that include more than two individuals with all parties consenting and participating in various aspects of the relationship: consenting, ethical, responsible non-monogamy

Polysexual: Someone who is sexually attracted to more than one gender; different from Pansexual in that this identity does not dictate the attraction to all or even most genders; has often been used by individuals instead of the term Bisexual to be more Transgender inclusive

Pronouns: A word that takes the place of a gendered noun to refer back to that noun in a sentence; it is important to use the correct pronouns for everyone with each individual determining what set of pronouns is important to them; the more commonly used gendered pronouns are she/her/hers and he/him/his; They/Them/Their has been frowned upon in use by academia but has been declared an appropriate gender inclusive pronoun by the Oxford English Dictionary

Q

Queer: A broad term for sexual and gender minorities; a word for the LGBTQIQAP+ Community; someone who is romantically and/sexually attracted to all genders; may refer to Queer Theory or a form of political engagement; a slur used against sexual and gender minorities, as in “smear the queer”

Queer Theory: the focuses on Queer readings or texts and theorizes queerness itself; analysing the role of gender and sexuality in a text in order to better visualise and then break down the binaries present within it

Questioning: someone who is unsure or exploring any aspect of their sexual, gender, or romantic identity; is sometimes but not always a transitional period in between multiple identities; does not negate the validity of any previous or future identities an individual may hold

R

Read (Getting/Being Read): How a person is perceived by others based on presentation and performance of a gender identity, see Passing; part of Ball Culture wherein participants insult each other on perceived flaws that would not allow them to pass or attain “realness”; a particular stressor for individuals who identify as Transgender or those who experience Gender Dysphoria

Romantic Orientation: Who/What gender(s) a person is romantically attracted to and desires to form close, personal, intimate relationships with

S

Sex: A socially constructed system of categorisation resulting in a binary (male or female) that is based on a number of factors, including but not limiting to genitalia, secondary sex characteristics, hormones, and chromosomes

Sex Assigned at Birth: The sex a person was assigned when they were born as assessed by a doctor; often based solely on genitalia

Sexual Orientation: The type of sexual attraction someone experiences, often viewed in terms of the gender or genders they are attracted to

Sexual Reassignment Surgery (SRS): An outdated term for Gender Confirmation Surgery

Socially Constructed: Understanding, meaning, and significance of a concept that is developed in coordination with others in society as the result of many individual choices and actions and is not inherent, imperative, or law; definitions based on this system do not transcend time

Stealth: Hiding any aspect of one’s identity through specific non-disclosure or presentation from the public, see Passing

T

They/Them/Their: A set of gender neutral pronouns that can be singular or plural

Third Gender/Other Gender: A concept of categorisation wherein individuals are identified, by themselves or society, as not being within the binary but as a third or other gender

Top Surgery: Surgery that is performed on the top half of the body, typically to augment or reduce breast tissue that someone may opt to have as one possible part of Gender Confirmation Surgery

Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminism/TERF: A form of radical feminism that does not include trans women because they are considered “not true women” or not having similar experiences with the gender based discrimination that Cisgender women experience

Transgender: A constellation term for gender identities that are non-Cisgender identities; denoting someone who does not identify with the gender society assigns to the sex they were assigned at birth; this identification can go beyond the perceived gender binary, allowing trans individuals to identify as a multitude of identities including Third Gender/Other Gender

Transsexual: An outdated term used clinically to describe someone who identifies as transgender and has had Gender Confirmation Surgery, formerly known as Sexual Reassignment Surgery; some people still chose to identify with this term

Transition: A period of change typically undergone by a person who identifies as transgender and wishes to alter their gender expression, presentation, and/or performance that may include, but does not necessarily include, dressing as the gender they identify with, performing roles of the gender they identify with, taking hormones to alter body chemistry and ultimately secondary sex characteristics, and/or Gender Confirmation Surgery; medically transitioning is sometimes seen as a pathways for alleviating the mental health symptoms of Gender Dysphoria

Transphobia: Intense dislike of or prejudice against people who identify as Transgender based on the expression and/or performance of their gender identity

Transvestite: A slur most frequently used against individuals who identify as Transgender; another outdated term that refers to individuals who perform a gender other than their own, often in an over exaggerated fashion similar to drag

Two-Spirit: A term used in some Indigenous cultures that denotes someone who possesses both a masculine spirit and a feminine spirit; can also be used to refer to queerness as a whole within Indigenous cultures; it is important to note that this term came about after white, western colonization and has a complicated history of being used to reclaim sexual and gendered sovereignty within First Nations

Z

Ze/Zi/Zir/Zirself: A set of gender inclusive pronouns used by individuals; is different from the use of They/Them/Their in that it allows for the creation of a new set of pronouns rather than trying to exist in the grammatically contentious space that other sets hold

By: Ash Easton, {She/Him/Theirs}

Let’s start with what do we mean by ”sex” and “gender”?

Sometimes it is hard to understand exactly what is meant by the term “gender”, and how it differs from the closely related term, “sex”.

“Sex” refers to the biological and physiological characteristics that define men and women or intersex. These are assigned at birth and are typically dictated by the acronyms AFAB and AMAB, where AFAB means “assigned female at birth” and AMAB means “assigned male at birth”.

Intersex is typically a person who is born with sexual anatomy, reproductive organs, and/or chromosome patterns that do not fit the typical definition of male or female. They may identify as any sexual orientation or gender identity.

“Gender” refers to the socially constructed roles, behaviors, activities, and attributes that a given society considers appropriate for men and women (those AFAB or AMAB).

To put it another way:

“Male” and “female” are sex categories, while “masculine”, “man” and “feminine”, “woman” are gender characteristics. This may also include “neutral/androgynous” which is typically described as a mix of genders as well as “agender” which is typically “genderless”. Aspects of sex will not vary substantially between different human societies, while aspects of gender may vary greatly.

Some examples of sex characteristics-

  • Those who are AFAB typically menstruate while those AMAB do not.
  • Those who are AMAB typically have testicles while those AFAB do not.
  • Those who are AFAB typically have developed breasts that are usually capable of lactating, while those AMAB have not.
  • Those who are AMAB typically have broader shoulders as compared to those AFAB.

There are some people who identify as male or female and do not experience said sex characteristics above such as those who are trans or have health complications. The lack of these sex characteristics does not mean that their identity is any less real as gender and sex do not mean the same thing.

Some examples of gender characteristics-

  • In the United States (and most other countries), women earn significantly less money than men for similar work.
  • In Vietnam, many more men than women smoke, as female smoking has not traditionally been considered.
  • In Saudi Arabia, men are allowed to drive cars while women are not.
  • In most of the world, women do more house work than men.

 What’s the Difference Between Non Binary and Binary Genders?

Binary is the idea that there are only two genders when, in fact, this isn’t true while non-binary is the belief of more than two genders. Those who identify as non-binary typically refer to a gender outside of male or female. This may include but is not limited to genderqueer, trigender, neutrois, or agender.

Gender is typically described as a spectrum where someone falls and some people move on the gender spectrum such as those who are genderqueer and genderfluid. Someone’s gender can also fall outside the gender spectrum as exemplified in those who are agender.

 What are the Different Non Binary Genders?

Agender: literally means “without gender”; some use it to describe a gender identity that they don’t know the word for or for choosing not to label themselves with a gender.

Androgyne: typically described as feeling both feminine and masculine simultaneously, but not necessarily in equal parts.

Bigender: literally means “two genders”; people who feel exactly two genders either simultaneously or varying between the two; does not necessarily feel masculine and feminine but can also include non-binary genders in the felt two.

Cisgender: a person who identifies with the sex assigned at birth as their gender

Demigender: someone who identifies with a gender partially but not wholly; such as a demiboy identifies as man partially but not wholly and same with demigirl; they may or may not identify with another gender in addition to feeling demi

Genderfluid: someone who flows along the gender spectrum and is “fluid” where their gender varies

Genderqueer: typically used a constellation term for non-binary genders or for those who choose to not use a label.

Hijra: persons in south Asian cultures who are psychological male but adopt female gender identity and expression, female clothing as well as other feminine gender roles; can be described as a type of third-gender as neither male nor female Intersex: typically, a person who is born with sexual anatomy, reproductive organs, and/or chromosome patterns that do not fit the typical definition of male or female; may identify as any sexual orientation or gender identity

Pangender: a non-binary gender experience which refers to a wide multiplicity of genders that can (or not) tend to the infinite (meaning that this experience can go beyond the current knowledge of genders); their experience can be either simultaneously or over time

Transgender: a constellation term for anyone whose internal experience of gender does not match the gender they were assigned at birth which is typically based on genitalia; also refers to those who transition to the “opposite” gender such as MTF (male to female) or FTM (female to male)

Trigender: literally “three genders”; describes people experience exactly three gender identities, either simultaneously or varying between them

Two-spirit: a culturally distinct gender that describes Indigenous North Americans who fulfill one of many mixed gender roles found traditionally among many Native Americans and Canadian First Nations indigenous groups; the mixed gender roles encompassed by the term historically included wearing the clothing and performing the work associated with both men and women

*There are many more but these are the most common gender identities, there are also many gender identities that people have not discovered and are not named.

That’s A Long Acronym

What does LGBTQIQAP+ stand for? What about gender identity and sex?

Don’t worry, you’re not the only one to ask! Click here to learn about LGBTQ+ identity basics. Because these are basics, that means there are many more terms and identities out there that you can learn about. Don’t hesitate to do your own research to stay updated!

 

Happy National Coming Out Day and welcome to our blog!  We are excited to start this new adventure in the JMU LGBTQ+ & Ally Education Program and look forward to everyone reading our posts.

Because yesterday was National Coming Out Day, let’s talk about “The Coming Out Continuum.”

There are three broad steps to coming out and each step will look different for each individual person.

  1. Coming Out to Yourself: This is the beginning of your journey! This could include questioning yourself about your sexuality and/or gender identity and figuring out where you may fall on the spectrum, or maybe spending time with LGBTQ+ people and reading information on different identities. Your identity is something only you can define for yourself but remember that sexuality and gender are fluid, it can change over time and with awareness!
  2. Coming Out to Others: This is the period where you first start talking about your sexuality and/or gender with your friends and family. The phrase “coming out” is typically what we think of in this stage. Some people will start out telling people close to them, some will talk to a counselor or even strangers. Who you talk to and what feels right is up to you!
  3. Living Openly: This can be an ongoing phase after initially coming out. When meeting new people you can decide who you want to come out to fluidly, whenever you are comfortable.

The Human Rights Campaign is celebrating National Coming Out Day and you should check it out! They have a 24 page resource pamphlet online about coming out that goes into much more detail than I did so give it gander. http://www.hrc.org/explore/topic/coming-out

I follow this incredible organization (HRC) on Instagram and Twitter. They are dedicated to fighting for civil rights for the LGBTQ+ community and they are great about getting their message out there. They will often post speeches or quotes from people, or even celebrities, who identify within the community or are allies. Leading up to this day, they have posted about several people who have come out and what their journey has been like along with a video on their website of several celebrities discussing their identities and coming out.

One of my personal role models is Sara Ramirez. Most people, including myself, know her from the TV show Grey’s Anatomy. She played an incredible orthopedic surgeon named Callie Torres who came to identify as bi-sexual a couple seasons into her characters timeline. Although she is no longer with the show, she is still in the community being the amazingly inspiring person she is. Ramirez made a speech this past weekend at the True Colors 40 To None Summit where she spoke about a virtual reality project she has been working on. During this speech she stated “…because of the intersections that exist in my own life: Woman, multi-racial woman, woman of color, queer, bi-sexual, Mexican-Irish American, immigrant, and raised by families heavily rooted in Catholicism…I am deeply invested in projects that allow our youth’s voices to be heard.” This was the first time she publicly stated her bi-sexual and queer identity and it was an amazing thing to hear and celebrate.

While Sara decided to come out during a speech, your experience and the experiences of others can and will be so different! Be true to yourself in your coming out process and let others do the same.

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