Frequently Asked Questions
What does LGBTQIA2-S stand for?
T: Transgender or Transsexual
Q: Queer or Questioning
I: Intersex (previously referred to as “hermaphrodite”, but Intersex is the more acceptable term to use now)
A: Asexual or Ally
2-S: Two Spirit (drawn from Native culture to refer to people who walk in two worlds – female and male)
Many LGBTQ people find language to be limiting; therefore, we see people developing new terminology to help them identify themselves. As a general rule, LGBT is fine to use – don’t sweat it if you don’t get the full acronym correct. While it is good to have a basic understanding of what each of these areas of identity are, it is more important to be honest and sincere when talking to people – and treating them as individuals, rather than the category.
Is using the term “queer” still considered offensive?
The word “queer” has taken on different meanings over the years. Originally, this term was used to mean “different” or “unconventional” and you might still run across it in old books or movies being used within that context. At some point, however, “queer” began to be used in a negative way to refer to people who are – or are perceived to be - gay, lesbian, or bisexual. Many people who grew up in the 1960’s and 1970’s remember the term being used negatively and, therefore, still have difficulty hearing the word.
However, in recent years, the gay community, especially LGBTQ youth, has been reclaiming the term “queer”. Many young people actually prefer to identify themselves as queer because they find it less limiting than identifying themselves as either gay/lesbian or bisexual. For some who consider themselves queer, they don't feel like they exist within hetero-normative/binary gender norms, but don't want to identify with one category that defines their sexual orientation and/or gender identity. For them, queer is a broader more inclusive category. Many college campuses across the nation have developed Queer Centers and offer courses in Queer Studies.
Here at NDSU, we are embracing the term “queer” and have been using it in our programming and educational initiatives. We are coming at this from the perspective of reclaiming the language that has previously been used to hurt people, as well as from the perspective that this language is being used by the young people whom we serve.
As a general rule, if you feel uncomfortable using this term, don’t. If you are uncertain about if the person you are talking to is uncomfortable using this term, ask her or him, or listen to how that person refers to herself/himself.
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