Labels, Titles, Terms, or “What sexuality do you fit?” : Broad Overview

Introduction to the Terms

Disclaimer: Note, most importantly, this is just a broad overview and an introduction to these words. I will probably explore the separate terms in alternate articles in the future. Also, All of these definitions are not the definitions I myself always use. I put these definitions here to be used as a resource, as further exploration, and for questioning the definitions. There are plenty of definitions out there, more words that people use to define themselves and the gender/sex/form of expression they have. In addition, there are plenty of synonyms for the above words. I will try to update this page as often as I am capable of.  If you know of any terms, please contact me and I would be glad and excited to add another word to my vocabulary and to this site. Thank you.

1. Queer:

“The word queer has traditionally meant “strange” or “unusual,” but its use in reference to LGBT (gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, intersex) communities as well as those perceived to be members of those communities has replaced the traditional definition and application. Its usage is considered controversial and underwent substantial changes over the course of the 20th Century with some LGBT people re-claiming the term as a means of self-empowerment. The term is still considered by some to be offensive and derisive, and by others as a re-appropriated term used to describe a sexual orientation and/or gender identity or gender expression that does not conform to heteronormative society.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Queer)

2. Questioning

“Questioning is a term that can refer to a person who is questioning their gender, sexual identity or sexual orientation.[1] People who are questioning may be unsure of their sexuality, or still exploring their feelings.[2]” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Questioning_%28sexuality_and_gender%29)

3. Coming Out

“Coming out or coming out of the closet describes the voluntary public announcement of one’s (primarily homosexual or bisexual) sexual orientation or gender identity.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coming_out)

4. Bisexuality

“Bisexuality refers to sexual or romantic attraction toward members of both sexes. It is one of the three main classifications of sexual orientation, along with heterosexual and homosexual.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bisexual)

5. Lesbian

“A lesbian is a woman who is romantically and sexually attracted only to other women.[1][2] Women who are attracted to both women and men are more often referred to as bisexual. An individual’s self-identification might not correspond with her behavior, and may be expressed with either, both, or neither of these words. “(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lesbian)

6. Gay/Homosexual

A. adj. Involving, related to, or characterized by a sexual propensity for one’s own sex; of or involving sexual activity with a member of one’s own sex, or between individuals of the same sex.

B. n. A person who has a sexual propensity for his or her own sex; esp. one whose sexual desires are directed wholly or largely towards people of the same sex.
In non-technical contexts it is often taken to mean a male homosexual, a female one being termed a lesbian.

(http://dictionary.oed.com/cgi/entry/50107612?single=1&query_type

=word&queryword=homosexual+&first=1&max_to_show=10)

7. Pansexuality

“Pansexuality or anthrosexuality (anthro- literally meaning human, human sexual) (sometimes referred to as omnisexuality[1]) is a sexual orientation characterized by the potential for aesthetic attraction, romantic love and/or sexual desire for people, regardless of their gender identity or biological sex. Thus, pansexuality includes potential attraction to people (such as transgender individuals) who do not fit into the gender binary of male/female. Some pansexuals suggest that they are gender-blind; that gender and sex are insignificant or irrelevant in determining whether they will be sexually attracted to others.[2]” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pansexual)

8. Asexual

Not sexual, without sex. In Bot. formerly applied to cryptogams; cf. agamic. (http://dictionary.oed.com/cgi/entry/50012857?single=1&query_type=word

&queryword=asexual+&first=1&max_to_show=10)

9. Transexual

A. adj.

1. Of or pertaining to transsexualism; having physical characteristics of one sex and psychological characteristics of the other.

B. n. A transsexual person. Also, one whose sex has been changed by surgery.

(http://dictionary.oed.com/cgi/entry/50256546/50256546spg1?single=1&query_type=misspelling&queryword=transexual

&first=1&max_to_show=10&hilite=50256546spg1)

10. Transgender

“…derivatives [trans <L, combination form meaning across, beyond, through] and [gender <ME <MF gendre, genre <L gener- meaning kind or sort]) is a general term applied to a variety of individuals, behaviors, and groups involving tendencies that diverge from the normative gender role (woman or man) commonly, but not always, assigned at birth, as well as the role traditionally held by society.

Transgender is the state of one’s “gender identity” (self-identification as male, female, both or neither) not matching one’s “assigned gender” (identification by others as male or female based on physical/genetic sex). “Transgender” does not imply any specific form of sexual orientation; transgender people may identify as heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, pansexual, polysexual or asexual. The precise definition for transgender remains in flux, but includes:

  • “Of, relating to, or designating a person whose identity does not conform unambiguously to conventional notions of male or female gender, but combines or moves between these.”[1]
  • “People who were assigned a gender, usually at birth and based on their genitals, but who feel that this is a false or incomplete description of themselves.”[2]
  • “Non-identification with, or non-presentation as, the gender one was assigned at birth.”[3]

A transgender individual may have characteristics that are normally associated with a particular gender, identify elsewhere on the traditional gender continuum, or exist outside of it as “other,” “agender,” “intergender,” or “third gender“. Transgender people may also identify as bigender, or along several places on either the traditional transgender continuum, or the more encompassing continuums which have been developed in response to the significantly more detailed studies done in recent years.[4]” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transgender)

Note: All of the terms pertaining to transgender, transexual, transvestite, etc can be found when searching transgender, transexual on wikipedia and provides a much better resource than the oxford english dictionary. Wikipedia seems to be much more inclusive and covers the history of terms and the many definitions. Sometimes the OED (Oxford English dictionary) can leave out some meanings or meanings we take on for ourselves in the glbtq community.

11. Genderqueer

” People who identify as genderqueer may think of themselves as being both a man and a woman, as being neither a man nor a woman, or as falling completely outside the gender binary. Some wish to have certain features of the opposite sex and not all characteristics; others want it all.

Some genderqueer people see their identity as one of many possible genders other than man or woman, while others see “genderqueer” as an umbrella term that encompasses all of those possible genders. Still others see “genderqueer” as a third gender to complement the traditional two, while others identify as genderless or a-gender. Genderqueer people are united by their rejection of the notion that there are only two genders.

The term “genderqueer” can also be used as an adjective to refer to any people who transgress gender, regardless of their self-defined gender identity (see Alternate Meanings, below).”  (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genderqueer)

12. Gender identity

“Gender identity (or core gender identity) is a person’s own sense of identification as male or female. The term is intended to distinguish this psychological association, from physiological and sociological aspects of gender.[1] Gender identity was originally a medical term used to explain sex reassignment procedures to the public.[2] The term is also found in psychology, often as core gender identity.[3] Sociology, gender studies and feminism are still inclined to refer to gender identity, gender role and erotic preference under the catch-all term gender.

Gender identity is affected by “genetic, prenatal hormonal, postnatal social, and postpubertal hormonal determinants.”[4] Biological factors include the influence of testosterone and gene regulation in brain cells. Social factors are primarily based on the family, as gender identity is thought to be formed by the third year of life.[3]

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (302.85) has five criteria that must be met before a diagnosis of gender identity disorder (GID) can be made. “In gender identity disorder, there is discordancy between the natal sex of one’s external genitalia and the brain coding of one’s gender as masculine or feminine.”[2]” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gender_identity)

13. Sex

“.. is a process of combining and mixing genetic traits, often resulting in the specialization of organisms into male and female types (or sexes). Sexual reproduction involves combining specialized cells (gametes) to form offspring that inherit traits from both parents. Gametes can be identical in form and function (known as isogametes), but in many cases an asymmetry has evolved such that two sex-specific types of gametes (heterogametes) exist: male gametes are small, motile, and optimized to transport their genetic information over a distance, while female gametes are large, non-motile and contain the nutrients necessary for the early development of the young organism.

An organism’s sex is defined by the gametes it produces: males produce male gametes (spermatozoa, or sperm) while females produce female gametes (ova, or egg cells); individual organisms which produce both male and female gametes are termed hermaphroditic. Frequently, physical differences are associated with the different sexes of an organism; these sexual dimorphisms can reflect the different reproductive pressures the sexes experience. In some cases male or (more commonly) female organisms also have the role of caring for offspring through the first part of development.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sex)

14. Sexuality

“Generally speaking, human sexuality is how people experience and express themselves as sexual beings.[1] The study of human sexuality encompasses an array of social activities and an abundance of behaviors, actions, and societal topics. Biologically, sexuality can encompass sexual intercourse and sexual contact in all its forms, as well as medical concerns about the physiological or even psychological aspects of sexual behaviour. Sociologically, it can cover the cultural, political, and legal aspects; and philosophically, it can span the moral, ethical, theological, spiritual or religious aspects.

As Michel Foucault wrote in The History of Sexuality, the concept of what activities and sensations are “sexual” is historically (as well as regionally and culturally) determined, and it is therefore part of a changing “discourse”.[2][3][4][5][6] The sexual meanings (meanings of the erotic dimension of human sexual experience), are social and cultural constructs, they are made subjective only after cultural and social mediation.[7] Being the main force conditioning human relationship, sex is essentially political. In any social context, the construction of a “sexual universe” is fundamentally linked to the structures of power.[7][2][8][9] The construction of sexual meanings, is an instrument by which social institutions (religion, marketing, the educational system, psychiatry, etc.) control and shape human relationships.[4][3]

According to Foucault, sexuality began to be regarded as a concept part of human nature since the 19th century; so sexuality began to be used as a mean to define normality and its boundaries, and to conceive everything outside those boundaries in the realm of psychopathology. In the 20th century, with the theories of Sigmund Freud and of sexology, the “not-normal” was seen more as a “discontent of civilization” [10][3] In a well known passage of his work, Foucault noted that the development of the notion of sexuality organized sex as a “fictitious unity” of “disparate parts, functions, behaviours, and feelings with no natural or necessary relation among them”; therefore the conception of what is “natural” is a social construct.[11][12] To escape this cultural “sexuality” Foucault suggest to focus on “bodies and pleasures”.[13][11]

In many historical eras, recovered art and artifacts help to portray human sexuality of the time period.[14]” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_sexuality)

15. Anal Sex

“… most often refers to the sex act involving insertion of the penis into the rectum.[1] The term anal sex can also sometimes include other sexual acts involving the anus, including but not limited to anilingus and fingering.

It is a form of sexual behavior considered to be comparatively high in risk, due to the vulnerability of the tissues and the septic nature of the anus.[2] As the rectal mucosa provides little natural lubrication, a personal lubricant is most often required or preferred when penetrating the anus.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anal_Sex)

16. Oral Sex

Oral sex consists of all sexual activities that involve the use of the mouth, which may include use of the tongue, teeth, and throat, to stimulate genitalia. Cunnilingus refers to oral sex performed on a woman while fellatio and irrumatio refer to oral sex performed on a man. Analingus refers to oral stimulation of a person’s anus. Oral stimulation of other parts of the body is usually not considered oral sex; see kiss and licking.

People may engage in oral sex as part of foreplay before intercourse, or during or following intercourse. It may also be performed for its own sake.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oral_Sex)

17. Heterosexual

“…is sexual or romantic attraction between opposite sexes, and is the most common sexual orientation among humans. The current use of the term has its roots in the broader 19th century tradition of personality taxonomy. These continue to influence the development of the modern concept of sexual orientation, gaining associations with romantic love and identity in addition to its original, exclusively sexual meaning.

The adjective heterosexual is used for intimate relationships and/or sexual relations between male and female individuals, who may or may not identify themselves as straight. Heterosexuality, as an identifier, is usually contrasted with homosexuality, bisexuality, and asexuality. The term straight is used predominantly to refer to self-identified heterosexuals of either sex. Unlike lesbian, there is no sex-specific term that is only used for self-identified heterosexual females.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heterosexual)

19. Intersex(ed)

“is the state of a living thing of a gonochoristic species whose sex chromosomes, genitalia and/or secondary sex characteristics are determined to be neither exclusively male nor female. An organism with intersex may have biological characteristics of both the male and female sexes. [1]

Intersexuality is the term adopted by medicine during the 20th century applied to human beings who cannot be classified as either male or female [2] [3] [4]

Intersexuality is also the word adopted by the identitary-political movement, surged at nineties, to criticize medical protocols in sex assignment and to claim the right to be heard in the construction of a new ones[5].” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intersex)

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