You’ve heard of LGBTQ and know that it stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning or Queer. But recently, you've seen a few more letters added to the acronym and you’re not sure what they mean. What exactly does LGBTQIA+ stand for?
First, know that when referring to minority groups, your language should be inclusive. (That’s why the term BIPOC, which represents Black, Indigenous and People of Color, is currently gaining momentum as a more appropriate way to refer to people of color.) LGBT was originally conceived as a more acceptable way to describe the individuals that were previously referred to as the “gay community.” And yet, these letters were still leaving various sexual and gender groups out.
And so the letter Q was added, which can mean Questioning (referring to those are uncertain of their sexual orientations or gender identities) or Queer, according to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center.
Cleo Anderson, an employee of the LGBT rights group GLAAD told USAToday: “Queer is anything that exists outside of the dominant narrative. Queer means that you are one of those letters [LGBT], but you could be all of those letters and not knowing is OK.”
The acronym has since expanded to include an I and an A at the end, making it LGBTQIA. The I stands for intersex. Per GLAAD, intersex is “an umbrella term describing people born with reproductive or sexual anatomy and/or a chromosome pattern that can't be classified as typically male or female.” And the A is used to represent those who identify as asexual, those who are agender, and those who identify as allies of the LGBT community.
What about the plus sign? This symbol is used to represent those who do not identify with one of the letters in the acronym (for example, those who identify as pansexual or gender-fluid).
But these aren’t the only letters and terms in use. In fact, the abbreviation is constantly evolving. Check out the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Asexual Resource Center (LGBTQIARC) at the University of California at Davis for an extensive glossary.
Still worried about saying the wrong thing? GLAAD has a helpful list of terms to avoid and preferred terms, so you can continue educating yourself on the LGBTQIA+ community.