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What does LGBTQ2+ mean?

What does LGBTQ2 / 2SLGBTQ+ …mean?

2SLGBTQ+ is a shortened form of an umbrella term that refers to the most commonly discussed queer identities and/or orientations:

  • 2 Spirit
  • Lesbian
  • Gay
  • Bisexual
  • Transgender
  • Queer / Questioning
  • 2 Spirit

Both because there are many queer identities and orientations not covered by the 2SLGBTQ+ intialism and because the list changes and grows as our understanding evolves, we use the + to include all of the other identities not covered by the shortened intialism. 

What do the letters in LGBTQQIP2SAA …mean?

AFAB (assigned female at birth): when they were born, the doctor said “it’s a girl!” 

Lesbian: a woman who is attracted to women

Trans(gender): someone whose biology does not align with the gender they were assigned at birth

Intersex: someone whose biology has both male and female traits, or whose biology is ambiguous  

Bisexual: people attracted to more than one gender (but possibly not all genders)

Queer: historically used as an insult, reclaimed as a positive term meaning anyone who is not cis or straight

Questioning: someone who is unsure or questioning their gender or sexuality

Ace (asexual): someone who doesn’t experience sexual attraction and may or may not experience other kinds of attraction  

AMAB (assigned male at birth): when they were born, the doctor said “it’s a boy!”

Gay: a man who is attracted to men. Also used more generally referring to people who are not cisgender or straight. 

Cis(gender): someone whose biology aligns with the gender they were assigned at birth

Non-Binary: someone with any gender outside the binary of man or woman 

2-Spirit: a culture-specific gender identity coming from some Indigenous Canadian traditions 

Pansexual: someone whose attraction is not dependent on gender 

Aro(mantic): someone who doesn’t experience romantic attraction and may or may not experience other kinds of attraction

Agender: someone who does not have a gender

Gender v. Sexuality

Gender identity refers to a person’s internal sense of self and the gender they feel like inside, which may or may not align with the gender they were assigned at birth. Sexuality, on the other hand, refers to the types of people someone is attracted to.

At birth, doctors usually assign infants one of two binary genders: male or female. This overlooks intersex people (people whose biology is ambiguous) and people with genders outside the binary. Cultures around the world have had traditions of non-binary gender for thousands of years, of which Two-Spirit Indigenous Canadians are just one example.

Most people’s gender aligns with their assigned gender and they experience attraction to people of the “opposite” binary gender. This is seen as the norm, and anyone with a different experience of gender and sexuality is seen as deviant. The physical and emotional violence experienced by people with stigmatized genders and sexualities keeps many people silent, which only reinforces the idea that such experiences are uncommon and abnormal.

Additional Resources

EBOOK: LGBTQ2+ Terms Reference & Media Guide

For a comprehensive list of definitions, concepts, and terms as well as guidance for language to use and language to avoid, download SPECTRUM's 2021 LGBTQ2+ Terms Reference & Media Guide!

Resources for Allies or People Who are Learning to Be Allies

Visit our Resources page to learn more about specific topics, ally how-tos, parenting supports, educator toolkits and more!

SPECTRUM offers a safe place where 2SLGBTQ+ individuals can be themselves and find community and supports.