Sexual orientation refers to one’s sexual and/or romantic attraction to men, women or both sexes.
There are three basic categories of sexual orientation:
- Heterosexual, also known as straight: romantic and/or sexual attraction to the opposite sex
- Homosexual, commonly known as gay/lesbian: romantic and/or sexual attraction to the same sex
- Bisexual: romantic and/or sexual attraction to both sexes
For some people an awareness of their sexual orientation is clear to them from an early age. For others, it may take time to clearly recognize who they are attracted to and which sexual orientation they identify with.
People express their sexuality in many different ways and have the right to identify with the gender and sexual orientation of their choice.
At birth we are assigned the gender of male or female based on our genitalia. For some people this gender assignment is very uncomfortable. Some people may identify more with the gender opposite that of their biological status, or they may find the two-gender system very limiting.
Gender identity refers to how people see themselves in terms of being male or female, not just about whether they are biologically male or female.
Sexual diversity refers to the fact that within a population there are individuals with various sexual orientations, and not all people have a gender identity that conforms to their biological sex. The acronym LBGTQ is often used to identify sexual diversity.
What does LGBTQ mean?
Lesbian: A woman’s romantic and/or sexual attraction to women
Gay: A romantic and/or sexual attraction to the same sex
Bisexual: A romantic and/or sexual attraction to both sexes
Transgender: People who see themselves as being neither exclusively male nor female.
Transsexual: Individuals whose gender identity is the opposite of their biological sex
Two-spirited: A term used among many First Nations groups for individuals who are considered to be neither exclusively women nor men. Two-spirited implies that a masculine and a feminine spirit can inhabit the same body.
Queer: A term used by some non-heterosexual people who choose not to label their sexual orientation using the traditional categories of gay, lesbian or bisexual.
Questioning: People who are experimenting with their sexuality or decide not to label their sexual orientation.