An Orientation on Sexual Orientation
Illustration/ Sam Nolan
For a lot of those starting university this fall, it will be their first experience meeting people from all sorts of different backgrounds. As an LGBTQIA+ student, I know that this can be a lot of people's first experience with the community and how daunting and confusing it can seem. Thus, the newspaper has put together a short glossary of LGBTQIA+ terms you are likely to come across in your university life, in order to give you an orientation on the various sexual, romantic, and gender identities that your fellow students may identify with.
Please note that this is in no way a complete glossary, as the vocabulary of the community is ever-changing. Many people find their own terms and preferred pronouns, as finding one's own way to express themselves is a major part of the community.
The Most Common Terms
Sexual Orientation: Who you are sexually attracted to.
Romantic Orientation: Who you are romantically attracted to.
Heterosexual/Heteroromantic: Attraction to another gender
Homosexual/Homoromantic: Attraction to the same gender.
Bisexual/Biromantic: Attraction to two genders.
Pansexual/Panromantic: Attracted to any and all genders.
Transgender: An individual who does not identify as the gender they were assigned at birth.
Asexual/Aromantic: Lack of sexual/romantic attraction to any individual.
Intersex: An individual having reproductive organs or external sexual characteristics associated with both males and females.
Genderqueer/Gender Neutral/Agender: A person who does not identify with an gender in the gender binary.
Genderfluid: An individual whose gender identity varies based on their current preference.
Queer: A person falling into the LGBTQIA+ spectrum. Note that it is a controversial term, as it has long been used as a slur against the LGBTQIA+ community, but within the last generation has been “taken back” by many members and made to be positive.
Questioning: A person who is not fully confident on their sexual/romantic identity.
Preferred Pronouns: The preferred way of referring to an individual, such as she/her/herself for someone who identifies as female, to they/them/themselves for a gender neutral individual, and many, many more.
There are many simple ways you can make our school's community more accepting for LGBTQIA+ individuals. My first tip would be don't assume, whether it be about gender or sexuality. Take into account that while someone may look a certain way, this doesn't mean they identify as such. You can be genderqueer but still dress in traditionally feminine clothing, it doesn't invalidate their identity, as the community is all about expressing one's true self. Instead of making assumptions about someone’s pronouns, try to ask, “Is there a pronoun you'd like me to use?” It can make a world of difference to your fellow students to know you acknowledge and value their identity.Likewise, don't assume simply because someone appears male/female that they are in a heterosexual relationship. Instead of asking “Do you have a boyfriend/girlfriend,” and making assumptions, you could ask “Are you seeing anyone?” or “Do you have a partner?”
University is also a place of self discovery, and you may find yourself questioning how you have previously identified. Experiment with pronouns, try different ways of presenting yourself, you may find a word or name that makes you more comfortable or find confidence in your identity.
For more information, resources, and to get involved in the community, consider talking to the U of T Sexual and Gender Diversity Office (http://sgdo.utoronto.ca/) or your campus' resident LGBTQIA+ group.
Sexuality and Gender Diversity Office
21 Sussex Avenue, Units 416-417
Open weekdays 9AM-5PM
SGDO staff regularly travel to UTSC and UTM and will be able to meet you on your campus
Bladen Wing, Room 334
Sexual Education Centre - St George Campus
21 Sussex Avenue, Unit 612
Open weekdays 10AM-7PM
Sexual Education Centre - Mississauga Campus
3359 Mississauga Rd N., Room 150
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