What Does LGBTQIA Mean? What The Acronym Stands For

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what does LGBTQIA mean
Love, Self

The most important thing is to love yourself.

Identity is a powerful thing. It is your core. Your self. The essence of your being. And it is a concept which is is fluid. Who you are can change over time. Of course, your identity can be comprised of numerous things; it includes aspects of your life which you can — and cannot — control, such as where you grew up and/or the color of your skin.

But another common identifier is gender and sexual orientation. (I, for example, am a white, female writer, runner, and mother of one.) But before you can identify by a certain term, you need to understand it. So let’s break down one identifier today: LGBTQIA.

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What does LGBTQIA mean? LGBTQIA is an abbreviation which stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, and asexual.

Of course, the acronym itself is relatively simple: it is comprised of seven simple letters, and seven simple words, but according to Social Work Helper, each word in the LGBTQIA meaning has its own definition:

  • Lesbian: A female-identified person who is attracted romantically, physically, or emotionally to another female-identified person
  • Gay: A male-identified person who is attracted romantically, physically, or emotionally to another male-identified person
  • Bisexual: Individuals who are attracted to both men and women romantically, physically, or emotionally
  • Transgender: Individuals whose biological sex is different than the gender with which they identify. Sometimes the term “born in the wrong body” is used, however, this depends on the individual’s preference. (Transsexual individuals have physically altered their body in order to better match their gender identity. It is a term that refers to biology, not to identity necessarily, and it is indicative of a change in one’s physiology.)
  • Queer: An all-inclusive term referencing lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transpeople, and intersex persons**
    • **It was previously a derogatory term in the 1980s, but it has currently been reclaimed when referring to the LGBTQIA community. Queer attempts to reject the idea that the labels of lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender are able to explain any one person’s identity.
  • Intersex: Someone whose physical sex characteristics are not categorized as exclusively male or exclusively female
  • Asexual: A person who is not attracted to anyone or does not have sexual orientation

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LGBTQIA hasn’t always been this in-depth or all encompassing. The original acronym for the gay and transgendered community was LGB; however, in the 1990s, “T” was added, as many felt the phrase did not adequately address their interests.

A few years later, “Q” was added for the same reason, and “I” and “A” — the two most recent additions — came about in the 21st Century, though it is important to note that not everyone uses this acronym even with the homosexual, asexual, intersexual, and transgendered community.

In fact, many still use LGBTQ and/or LGBT+, as these abbreviations tend to recognize most individuals sexual orientations and/or gender identities. However, since gender (and sexual) identity is highly nuanced, the addition of things like the letters like “I” and “A” is imperative. 


Michael Hulshof-Schmidt, the voice behind the blog Social Justice for All, explained to the Chicago Tribune, “[Multiple identifiers are needed to create] a level playing field... for people to self-identify and for us to believe people when they do identify." And Margo M. Jacquot, founding director of The Juniper Center, a psychotherapy practice, agrees: "Identity is huge” and varied — hence the reason for the evolution of the term.

So whether you identify as heterosexual, homosexual, LGBTQI or A doesn’t matter. What matters is that you know yourself, love yourself, and embrace your identity just as it is (and you are).

RELATED: Your Essential Guide To The LGBT Acronym, So You Can Use Each Term RESPECTFULLY

Nicole Lane is a wife, mother, writer, and regular contributor for YourTango. She is a staunch defender of women's rights, she believes firmly in equality and parity, and she is an advocate for women's health, mental health, and sexuality.

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