Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Queer terms you should know...

Hello lovelies!

Its time for another interesting class on Queer Stuff 101.

Camp Betty Sydney is coming up (June 10-13), with a weekend of wonderful activities for Sydneysiders (CB isn't queer-exclusive, all are welcome to attend). If you want to read about the gay/queer history behind this celebration on the Queen's Birthday Long Weekend, just jump over here...












So perhaps, its time to throw out a quick and dirty guide to some common Queer words you'd probably hear at a panel/talk:

Queer.
An umbrella term for sexual minorities that do not identify as heterosexual.

Cis-anything. (Cis-gendered, Cis-male, Cis-female, etc).
Cis- is generally taken to mean acting as per your gender identity. I.e. my Dad is male and acts like a bloke, he's cis-male. The term is preferred over Gender-Normative, which kinda sounds like anyone who doesnt match that term isnt normal. It also complements the term Transgendered, which i'll get to further on.

Along side this word is Cissexual. In a nutshell it would mean non-transgendered, or your mental and physical sexes match.

Cis- is used to empower Trans- - that is, the assumption that Trans is so different, and matching your gender identity is so normal it doesnt even need to be thought about.

Gender and Sex. There is a difference.
Gender is generally a range of characteristics that distinguish between masculine and feminine, but also depends on the context (its quite often called a social construct). Gender does not have to be related to your biological Sex.

For example, i'm cis-female, and queer-femme. I see Femme as a hyper-feminine gender.

Gender-Queer.
A term for gender identities that do not fit the man/woman identity. It can mean moving between two genders, being third gendered or not wanting to name your gender (and other meanings).

Transvestite.
Someone who dresses up in the other gender's clothes for kicks. Please never call a Transperson a transvestite (or a tranny), or I will have to hurt you. They are not being Trans for 'fun'.

Transgender.
Is the state of some one's gender identity (male, female, both, etc) not matching their assigned sex. It doesnt imply any sexual orientation (i.e. hetero, homo etc), and there can be a million different ways people can identify using term.
Transman - male-identified
Transwoman - female-identified

Transsexual.
A person's identification with a gender that inconsistent or not culturally associated with their biological sex (similar to above). This is normally the 'medical' term, and people who identify as transsexual quite often do not want to identify as Transgender (vice versa too).
(There is a whole melting pot of issues there, but as someone who is not involved in the Transsexual community its not my place to dissect it).

Intersex.
Someone who may have both male and female sexual (biological) characteristics.

Wikipedia is great if you want to read more...

*These explanations are very rough, so please do not use them as a queer bible. I'd also like to add that i'm not a scholar or academic, and if you think that i've missed something please let me know!

*I also mean no offence by any of my definitions, I'm just hoping to broaden people's horizons a bit and make queer-spaces more accessible for people not active within the queer community.

5 comments:

Kris said...

Great post, Bex. I linked it over on w-g.

Bex said...

aww thanks Kris! I feel really nervous writing about Queer Stuff, but when I heard someone accidentially call a transman a transvestite the other day I thought about writing something to explain the difference ;)... Just hope I dont seem too offhand and offend someone!

LynS said...

Thanks Bex. Great and helpful post.

Camelia Crinoline said...

Great post. As someone who is queer I sometimes forget that non-queer (and probably some queer) people aren't familiar with these words.

J. Page Randolph said...

As the (arguably) largest percentage of the queer-identifying minority, I feel like gay men are largely ignorant of many of these terms. I find myself constantly rebuking gay guys for calling a trans person a "tranny". Flippantly referring to a drag queen as a "tranny" is crass, but calling trans-gendered people, who are simply trying to live their lives the way they feel on the inside, "trannies" is inexcusable under any circumstance. The community is so diverse it can seem like an endless task trying to keep it somehow unified.

Thanks for taking the time to write these out. I've seen the cis- prefix a lot and I got the general gist that it means a person identifies as the same gender as their sex, but you've expanded that definition for me.