LGBT is short for "Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender." It is the most well-known collective term for the community of gender, sex and sexuality minorities. Many towns and universities have LGBT groups for local socialising, networking, and activism.
Variant and alternative acronyms
The LGBT acronym is sometimes written as LGB, intentionally not including transgender people as part of this group. This can be accurate for resources and groups are only about sexual orientation, not gender identity. Depending on location, LGBT is also sometimes written in a different order: GLBT.
Since the use of the term LGBT became widespread, other minorities have been accepted into the community and added to the end of LGBT acronym in various combinations. These include: Intersex, Pansexual, Asexual, Aromantic, Queer, Questioning, Two-spirit, and others. This results in a variety of acronyms, such as LGBTQ, LGBTQ2, LGBTIQAP, LGBTQQAP, etc. Since the string of letters can get very long, some writers just imply them by writing a plus sign on the end, such as LGBT+, LGBTQIA+, or LGBTQQAP+. The A, when it is added, can refer to asexual and aromantic, as well as agender. However, there has been some debate whether the A stands for allies. This comes from the belief that the term "ally" used to describe a closeted LGBT+ community member who wanted to be a part of the community while also protecting themselves from their unsafe or unsupportive environment.
Because the ever-longer acronym can become cumbersome to say, some propose rearranging the letters into different acronyms. Others propose an entirely different acronym that summarizes the commonalities of LGBT+ identities, rather than listing them, such as:
- QUILTBAG (queer/questioning, undecided, intersex, lesbian, transgender, bisexual, asexual, gay) was among the first proposed alternative acronyms. It was coined by Sadie Lee in 2005. Though QUILTBAG is relatively long compared to LGBT, having the acronym be a pronounceable word made it easy to talk about. However this also leads to confusion, as it is not a distinct word. The U is sometimes stated to stand for "Unisex", a type of nonbinary identity.
- SAGA (Sexual and Gender Acceptance) is among the acronyms that seek to describe the common threads amongst the community, rather than list out all the possible identities. However, like QUILTBAG, it is a word that has a different meaning, which causes confusion. It also can describe an organization, Sexuality and Gender Alliance.
- GSM (gender and sexuality minorities), or GSRM (gender, sex, and romantic minorities). Criticisms of this term: This excludes some people it shouldn't, such as intersex people, whose sex is neither a gender nor a sexuality. This term has been considered harmful because it could include some kinds of people it shouldn't: people who aren't LGBT+, such as cisgender heterosexual people who consider themselves "sexuality minorities" because they have unusual sexual fetishes, or even harmful paraphilias such as pedophilia.
- MOGAI (marginalized orientations, gender alignments, and intersex), or MOGII (marginalized orientations, gender identities, and intersex). These terms include intersex people, while excluding people who aren't LGBT+. MOGII is perhaps easier to say, while MOGAI is more accurate (cishet perisex women have a marginalized gender identity, but their gender aligns with their assigned gender at birth so they are not a marginalized gender alignment). "MOGAI" is said to have been coined by Tumblr user cisphobeofficial circa 2015. Though this term seeks to be the most inclusive, it has been criticized by some for the same reasons "GSM" has gained criticism. In some contexts, MOGAI is used to refer only to "newer" or more "niche" identities (such as xenogenders for example), so you will sometimes see people who are "pro-LGBT and anti-MOGAI" although the latter term technically includes the former. IMOGA (intersex, marginalized orientations or gender alignments) is a variation of MOGAI mostly used on Tumblr.
- The "opposite" of MOGAI, though not frequently used, is COGAP (Centered Orientations, Gender Alignments, and Perisex).
- LGBTPN (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, pansexual, nonbinary) is an alternative created by those who do not include asexual or aromantic people in the community.
Queer is a word with a complex history. Some people choose not to use an acronym such as LGBT, and instead use the word "queer" as a collective term for all identities which are not heterosexual and/or not cisgender. "Queer" may also be used for orientations and genders that are difficult to define in more specific terms.
Beginning around the 1980s, the word "queer" began to become a political reclamation. Flyers like one circulated in the 1990 New York Pride Parade proclaimed queer as a word indicative of a rejection of heteronormative standards.
In the early 1990s, the academic discipline of queer theory developed. This comes from the use of "queer" as a political statement and a gender stance, which places queerness as against assimilation. The field of queer theory not only looks into LGBT history, but the ramifications of queer theory itself.
For many people even today, "queer" represents a rejection of assimilation and respectability politics, whereas rejection of the word queer is associated with assimilationist politics. Queer is used by activists that seek broader societal changes that reach the most disenfranchised LGBT people.
However, queer is still used as a slur against LGBT people. The degree to which queer is considered offensive varies by region and by generation. In 2011, one blogger, themself queer and genderqueer, called it the slur of choice in the UK among "queer bashers," making it necessary to "fight tooth and nail" for their right to call themself both in the 1990s. As with other hate speech, it is very common among LGBT+ people for the word to be a trigger for post-traumatic flashbacks of memories of violence, harassment, and abuse.
Even so, the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) Standards of Care V7 listed genderqueer as one of many specific terms used by people outside the gender binary in 2011. In response, non-gendered activist Christie Elan-Cane spoke against queer being applied to per, calling the use of "gender queer" in the WPATH standards inappropriate, offensive, and a barrier to mainstream acceptance. Others, calling themselves genderqueer, praised the WPATH inclusion as validating their identities, calling Elan-Cane's complaints generational rather than universal.
- "QUILTBAG". Wiktionary, The Free Dictionary. 19 July 2020. Retrieved 30 July 2021.
- "Literary Canon Fodder | Cardyn Brooks Reviews". Media Diversified. 11 February 2018. Retrieved 14 February 2021.
...the absence of any QUILTBAG (Queer, Questioning, Unisex, Undecided, Intersex, Lesbian, Transgender, Bisexual, Asexual, All, Gay) characters...
- Suzanne 'Xan' van Rooyen (22 April 2013). "Author Guest Blog: Diversity in YA". YA Pride. Retrieved 14 February 2021.
QUILTBAG stands for queer, unisex, intersex, lesbian, trans, bi, asexual and gay
- Bird (2014). "About MOGAI and MOGII". Archived from the original on 19 November 2014.
- "why I've started using MOGAI". 19 September 2014. Archived from the original on 26 December 2019.
- ezgender. "mogai-archive, mogai, & xenogenders". Retrieved 30 July 2021.
In (approximately) 2015, Tumblr user cisphobeofficial coined the term MOGAI.
- "COGAP". LGBTA Wiki. 10 March 2021. Archived from the original on 26 July 2021.
- "PSA: Don't trust people who use the acronym LGBTPN". 13 June 2017. Archived from the original on 14 February 2021.
- ["Published anonymously by Queers"]. 1990. QUEERS READ THIS: A leaflet distributed at pride march in NY. http://www.qrd.org/qrd/misc/text/queers.read.this
- https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=PNYlUuvPOQ8C&pg=PA1&source=gbs_toc_r&cad=3#v=onepage&q&f=false [Dead link]
- "queer theory". Oxford Reference. doi:10.1093/oi/authority.20110803100358573. Retrieved 2021-07-04.
- Ferry, Nicole C. (2012) Rethinking the Mainstream Gay and Lesbian Movement Beyond the Classroom Exclusionary Results from Inclusion-Based Assimilation Politics. Journal of Curriculum Theorizing. 28, (2): 104-117.
- Gamson, Joshua (1995). "Must Identity Movements Self-Destruct? A Queer Dilemma". Social Problems. 42 (3): 390–407. doi:10.2307/3096854. ISSN 0037-7791.
- Cassell's Dictionary of Slang, 2nd ed (2005), p. 1161.
- The Routledge Dictionary of Modern American Slang and Unconventional English (2008), p. 792-793.
- Mac. November 7, 2011. http://nonbinary.tumblr.com/post/12475693948/when-umbrella-terms-cause-offence-christie
- World Professional Association for Transgender Health (2012). "Standards of Care for the Health of Transsexual, Transgender, and Gender-Conforming People [7th Version]". p. 96.
- Christie Elan-Cane. November 5, 2011. http://elancane.livejournal.com/9367.html