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LGBTQ*: What does it mean?

When talking about LGBTQ* rights, it’s important to keep in mind the true diversity of the community. However, most people are unaware of the myriad other terms for people outside the gender binary or the LGB classification.

It is essential to hold a more representative view of the spectrum that is gender and sexuality, keeping in mind that both are extremely personal and variable concepts. To begin with, there are many variations used to address those outside gender and sexuality norms, the most popular being LGBT, which stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender.

Transgender is an umbrella term describing people whose gender differs from that which they were assigned at birth. The term is often applied solely to those individuals whose gender identity and the gender they were assigned at birth fall on the opposite ends of the spectrum. For example a trans male is a person who was assigned the female gender at birth but identifies as a male.

The ‘Q’ can stand for either queer or questioning. Questioning refers to people who are unsure about their gender or sexual orientation. Queer is an umbrella term meant to encompass all sexualities that differ from the heteronormative paradigm.

You might also see the term LGBTQ*, or a variation thereof, and wonder what the asterisk signifies. The answer is that the asterisk makes further effort to include the entire spectrum of gender and sexuality, regardless of whether a label presently exists.

It is also important to note that gender and sexuality are two distinct concepts that do not influence each other. Gender is about how one defines oneself; sexuality is about who one is attracted to. That being said, here is a short and by no means exhaustive list of prevalent terminology within the LGBTQ* community.


Asexual: someone who is not sexually attracted to people, but might experience romantic attraction

Pansexual: someone who is attracted to people regardless of their gender, whether it be female, male, trans, agender, etc.

Polyamorous: someone who enters relationships with more than one person. Polyamorous relationships can be either open, meaning those in the group can date others outside the group, or closed, meaning those in the group only date those within the group.


Agender: someone who does not identify with any gender, also called gender neutral

Androgynous: someone who presents as both feminine and masculine

Intersex: someone with both male and female physical characteristics

Gender fluid: someone who identifies with more than one gender, and will move between said genders


The most important thing to remember is that any term a person uses to define themselves is their choice, that you have no right to impose your own labels on another person, and that you should respect their identity. Be sure to use the pronoun(s) and name(s) they wish to be called. Don’t assume that someone is straight/gay/trans/female, etc., because of their appearance. Continue learning about and embracing the diversity of the human experience.

About Adriana Villavicencio

Dr. Adriana Villavicencio is the youngest child of Ecuadorian immigrants. She has moved 29 times in her life, taking her on a journey from California to Bangalore, India, and New York City, where she recently earned a Ph.D. in Education Leadership and works as a Research Associate at New York University. An avid traveler, Adriana has collected experiences in four different continents and 16 different countries. But as a former high school English teacher, some of her fondest memories are those of her brilliant and brilliantly funny students in Brooklyn and Oakland. Adriana has contributed to several publications including the Daily News and, and is a managing editor for the Journal of Equity in Education. She earned a B.A. in English and an M.A. in English Education at Columbia University, and currently serves on the board of Columbia’s Latino Alumni Association (LAACU). She enjoys scary movies with red vines, Sauvignon Blanc, and her Maltese dog, Napoleon.

To learn more about Adriana’s education consulting company, please visit

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and should not be understood to be shared by Being Latino, Inc.


  1. Hey folks… One of your writers should report on last night’s inncident with the Puerto Rican delegation at the RNC…

  2. Still dunno what the Q stands for!

  3. Roberto I believe it stands for “queer”

  4. Qonfused is what Q stands for – just like this article.

  5. You can say you are a different sex other than what you were born with, take hormones, mutilate your body, but you cannot change the DNA and chromosomes Nature gave you – so even if Chad Bono says she is a guy, she still is really a very confused woman with very expensive plastic surgery.

  6. With the pan sexual I hope you are not including disturbed folks that have sex with animals, underage, incest, dead, insects, space aliens…you kind of left it open implying a free for all. I think the majority of Latinos would laugh at these politically correct designations.

  7. Roberto, Questioning is what it stands for. Odd how that wasn’t defined in the article despite astericks.

    Like any group, I’m willing to let folks be called whatever they want. Though they might want to get the word out a bit on the alphabet soup. I know some just genuinely want to know and are concerned that asking might be taken the wrong way.

  8. Too many letters. We all got the gist of it with “LGBT”.

  9. The Q typically stands for Queer or Questioning.

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