Recently, at the 30th Annual Gay Pride Celebration in Toronto – the largest Pride celebration in North America – a new acronym was announced. Forget LGBT+, forget the asterisk, and add a number and you get the following: LGBTTIQQ2SA. Let’s begin by defining the mouthful:
Lesbian: An individual who self-identifies as a woman and has an attraction to other women.
Gay: An individual who self-identifies as a man and has an attraction to other men (also often used in place of the term “Lesbian”)
Bisexual: An individual who is attracted to both sexes (or all sexes).
Transgender: An “umbrella” term meant to encompass everything from cross-dressing to transsexual identities and those who don’t identify on the gender spectrum (simply male or female).
Transsexual: An individual whose mental gender identity does not match with their gender as assigned at birth (as in genitalia).
Intersex: An individual born into a body without clear genitals either male or female.
Queer: A term that some have reclaimed to define themselves as any of the LGBT+ identities.
Questioning: An individual who is unsure about where their attractions lie.
2-Spirit: An individual in certain Native tribes who may fall under the trans umbrella as transgender or possibly gender fluid. They are viewed as one body with two spirits.
Asexual (or is it Allies? We’ll talk more about that in a minute…): An individual without sexual attraction for any gender.
There are two things I want to discuss with this new addition to our Alphabet Soup. Before I do that, though, I want to make clear that my intentions are not to offend: and there are many opinions out there from every community.
First off, from the addition of 2-Spirit, there have been a few arguments. Some people argue that this already fits under the trans umbrella, to which I slightly disagree. The cultural background of someone who is considered to be 2-Spirit is unique and different from the transgender umbrella itself. This may create some problems though.
A term I hear often used nowadays is “cultural appropriation.” Because I personally find issues with the term, I’ll give you the Google definition:
“Cultural appropriation is the adoption of some specific elements of one culture by a different cultural group. It describes acculturation or assimilation, but can imply a negative view towards acculturation from a minority culture by a dominant culture.”
I do agree with the book definition: a dominant culture taking elements of a minority culture and using them without regard to their historical or cultural value, but more than often I see people use this term to pass judgment and without reason. To claim that something is “cultural appropriation” is to look at a person who is wearing a certain piece of clothing, or using a specific decoration, or performing a specific ritual, and – based solely on looks – determine whether they “should” or “shouldn’t” be doing that. Were you to make this assumption and see me wearing a shirt with a black power fist on it, you would probably call it cultural appropriation. You would be making the assumption based on how I look that I am white and have no right to be promoting black power: it might even seem backhanded to you. You would be wrong. Do you see the problem? It encourages you to assume things about someone simply by their skin color or looks: that’s sort of a step in the wrong direction.
Back to my point (using the term “cultural appropriation” very carefully) the addition of 2-Spirit to a widely used LGBTQ+ acronym may create widespread cultural appropriation of an idea and identity that is extremely specific to Natives in North America. At the same time, I completely support the addition of a group of people that have been ignored or forgotten about in this LGBTQ+ world: it’s a sticky situation and I’m not sure where I stand.
Secondly, I want to put my two cents into the Asexual versus Ally debate. The Alphabet Soup acronym has always been one of inclusion for those oppressed groups of people. It has grown as people have begun to realize that sexuality is not as easy as gay or straight. Ignoring the A, what do all of the other letters have in common? They all represent a group that has had a personal and historical struggle with rights, or acceptance. I am so glad these communities have Allies, but “Ally” is not an oppressed group of people. To me, the addition of the A (which was, originally and simply, Asexual) and it’s change to Ally is a very selfish thing. It seems like Allies took it into their own hands to say “we deserve the recognition, too” instead of doing their work and advocating in silence. I completely understand that many people disagree with me, but when I see LGBTTIQQ2SA, I see Asexual. I do not see Ally.
If you take anything away from this post, I really hope you can see the variance in opinions. What letters should be added? Should some be omitted now that terms are changing? Is this an accurate representation of our world?
I don’t have the answers, and I’m not sure anybody does. But for once these decisions are being made in the public eye, and I think that’s a pretty good start in our fight towards equality and acceptance.
By Quinn Murphy