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Social awareness of non-straight and non-cisgender identities may be on the rise, but figuring out where on the spectrum you fall can still be awfully hard. Where might you find yourself, and does it really matter?

“I’m a pansexual girl — but I don’t think I’m completely a girl, but I’m not a boy,” one young SteadyHealth reader recently shared. “ I just have no idea what I am or supposed to be.”

The world was different when I was in high school. Not only was being called “queer” an insult in almost every context, but as a non-straight or questioning young person, finding peers and information alike was an awful lot harder, too. Though the “real world” might not have changed all that much, the internet has become an invaluable source of support for those who are struggling to make sense of their sexuality. Many young people now are growing up with an abundance of information only a click away.

In large part exactly thanks to being able to type “am I gay”, “am I trans”, “not a boy or a girl”, or “confused about sexuality” into a search engine, you’re growing up with knowledge people just a few generations older than you didn’t have — and the potential to “find your tribe” with it.

Forget gay, straight, or bi. You’ll now find gender-identity and sexual-orientation lists so long that you can almost be sure that you fit on there, somewhere.

A Brief Overview Of Gender Identities And Sexual Orientations

Your gender identity may be, in no particular order:

  • Cisgender — the sex you were assigned at birth, based on your biological genitals, matches the gender with which you identify.

  • Transgender — the gender you identify with differs from the one you were assigned at birth.

  • Intersex — you have male and female anatomical features and identify as intersex.

  • Bigender, gender fluid, gender non-binary, gender non-conforming, agender, and others — your gender does not fit into any neat box, you do not identify as any gender or identify as more than one gender.

Your sexual identity might be, in no particular order:

  • Asexual — someone who does not feel sexual attraction to anybody.

  • Aromantic — someone who doesn’t feel romantic attraction.

  • Gay, lesbian, queer — attracted to people of the same sex.

  • Bisexual — attracted to males and females.

  • Demisexual — used to describe people who are only attracted to people they already have a strong emotional bond with.

  • Pansexual — attracted to the person you happen to be attracted to, because of who they are, without an inherent preference for any gender or sex.

  • Heterosexual, straight — attracted to people of the opposite sex.

  • Skoliosexual — attracted to people who aren’t cisgender.

Note that this isn’t an exhaustive list by any means. Whereas once, not that long ago, people used to talk about the “LGBT” community (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender), you may now come across the acronyms LGBTQIA+ and even LGBTQQIP2SAA. The “I” stands for intersex, the Qs are for queer and questioning, the A for asexual or “aromantic”, and the “P” for pansexual. (And we haven’t even gotten to two-spirit, third-gender, femme, butch, masculine of center, feminine of center, and other terms yet!)

Confusing as the acronyms and terms now floating around may be to anyone regardless of how they currently identify or where they’ll eventually feel they belong, if anywhere, they certainly make an excellent point about human gender identity and sexuality: it’s complex.
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