LGBTQIA*: Gender terms – what do they mean and what does the plus or asterisk stand for?

“Some men love men, some women just women / there’s nothing to regret and nothing to marvel at / that’s just as normal as chewing gum,” sing Die Ärzte in their song “M&F” back in 2012. But even eight years later, some people still throw it People still give irritated looks to two men or women who are kissing. After all: According to one survey published on the Statista portal 86 percent of Germans believe that same-sex love should be accepted by society.

“Some people are attracted to opposite genders, some are attracted to their own gender, and some are attracted to multiple genders. That has always been the case – at all times and in all cultures,” the Federal Center for Health Education informs at the Website of her “Love Life” campaign. When it comes to sex, everyone ticks differently. Typically one distinguishes between heterosexuality, homosexuality and bisexuality, but there are many variations.

What does LGBTQIA* stand for?

The abbreviation LGBTQIA*, which comes from English, stands for the English words: lesbian, Ghey, bisexual, transgender/transsexual, qother/questioning, iintersex, asexual. Translated, the terms mean: lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender/transsexual, cross/interrogative, intersexual, asexual. The * (sometimes also +) serves as a placeholder for further gender identities.

Bi, homo or pan: Sexual orientation

  • hetero: This is what people are called who only find the opposite sex sexually attractive. According to a survey published on Portal Statista 72.4 percent of women and 81.1 percent of men in Germany describe themselves as exclusively heterosexual.
  • homo: These are people who are only attracted to their own gender. Women who only like women are lesbians. Men who only find men attractive are called gay.
  • bi: Those who define themselves as bisexual find men and women sexually attractive.
  • pan: Pansexuals fall in love with people, not genders. “Pansexual people are sexually attracted to people of all genders and/or their sexual attraction is not based on the other’s gender,” defines the queer lexicon this form of sexual orientation. The main difference to bisexuality is that pansexuals reject the norm that there should only be two genders, i.e. think non-binary (see explanation below).
  • asexual: This is what people call themselves who feel little or no sexual attraction, regardless of gender. “Some asexual people don’t see the point of sex, some find it annoying, some find it uncomfortable,” explains the health portal Netdoktor.
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In addition to sexual orientation, there are a large number of terms that describe a person’s gender identity. “Gender identity is understood as belonging to one or more genders,” says the Federal Center for Health Education. That is, a person whose physical characteristics would define them as a man can be a woman. Because there is a biological and a social sex.

To explain: Gender researchers distinguish between biological sex (in English: sex) and gender (in English: gender). The latter is formed, for example, from social norms, upbringing and cultural ideas of how a man or a woman should typically be and look.

Cis or gender fluid: gender identities

We have put together some examples of gender identities here:

  • cis: This is the name given to people who identify with their gender assigned at birth, for example men who see themselves as men.
  • non-binary: These people reject the societal norm that there should only be two genders, male and female.
  • gender fluid: If your own gender identity changes from time to time, this is the appropriate term for it.
  • trans: These people were born with characteristics that are opposite to their gender identity – for example, a man who has typically female gender characteristics.

What some of these terms don’t take into account is intersex people. “Intersexed bodies have characteristics of both male and female genders,” explains the Federal Association of Intersex People. So their chromosomes, hormone production or body shape could not only be 100 percent male or female. Since the end of 2018, it has therefore been possible to identify yourself in the birth register as “male” and “female”. can also be entered as “diverse”.

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Anyone who deals with sexual orientation often comes across the term “queer”. According to the Federal Center for Health Education, this word shows “that the social norms of heterosexuality and dual gender, i.e. the restriction to the two categories ‘man’ or ‘woman’, are rejected.” In fact, since intersex exists, heterosexuality is just a norm, not a biological law. Because obviously there are more than just two genders.

What do the colors of the flag mean?

The central symbol of the LGBTQIA* community has been since the 1970s the so-called rainbow flag. Each color has its own meaning: Red stands for life Orange for the healing Yellow for the sun Green for nature, Blue for harmony and Purple for the spirit or the soul. Originally there was another one pink Stripes (sexuality), which, however, could not be produced industrially in the 1970s – and disappeared when flags were first mass-produced.

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