Monday 19 August 2013

Rainbow Reads-Introduction and some terms you need to know

Welcome to Rainbow Reads, a month of discussions, reviews, interviews and giveaways regarding LGBTQIA representation in teen literature.

Over the past few weeks, I've been begging you to take part in the discussion. Some of you did, for which I am ever grateful for, providing interesting responses to the questions. There'll be posts with your answers and my own responses. Some of our featured authors have things to say on the topics, so follow throughout to see what they say. In addition to this, there'll also be reviews and giveaways  , spanning many genres, so hopefully you'll find something you like. b

I had the idea for this sometime in March, because it had been a long time since there'd been one (Caroline, Portrait of Woman, did one in February 2012). So I thought August would be a good time around exams  and other commitments, so I set it for then (well, now). And then America gets a Pride Month so you get a whole load of American authors doing stuff, and then Jo Stapely's running LGBTQ Month during July, so I suppose you guys may be a little fed up with LGBT YA.

But here. I hope this is a different approach, one with a set of really awesome participants  who have provided diverse opinions and and some giveaways of great books, and  that you  will enjoy and find it as intriguing as I do.

To start us off,  I'm going to provide a set of definitions to that  may be useful for posts for later on, and is just generally information that will probably be useful in life.

Sex is the way that someone is defined by biology: chromosomes, hormones and anatomy.
Intersex describes someone whose sex is ambiguous chromosomically, hormonally and anatomically.

Gender is a social construct that labels people as and applies roles to men, women or other. People are almost always assigned genders at birth based on their sex.
Gender expression is the way that someone presents their gender identity. This can be via clothes, speaking patterns, behavior and other things.
Gender identity is the way that someone identifies as male, female, neither, both or other.
Transgender/trans* is an umbrella term  for people whose gender identity is not the same as the sex that they were assigned at birth.
Cisgender is a term for people whos gender identity is the same as the sex they were assigned at birth.
Trans and cis are terms that are only used  in discussions where trans topics are the focus. Otherwise, there is no need to differentiate.
Gender binary is the system that says that gender is male or female, with no variation.
Genderqueer is a term used by those who reject the gender binary. They may be agender (without a gender), bigender (of two genders),  or otherwise non-binary.
Cross dressing is wearing clothes typically associated with those of another gender.
Drag is presenting gender for performance. Very associated with cross dressing.
Passing is being able to be percieved by others as someone wants to be percieved.

Sexual orientation, if you're going  to be picky  about the word, is only to describe the gender of someone that someone feels sexual attraction for, but is pretty much always used to describe emotional and romantic orientation too.
Romantic orientation is used to describe the gender of someone that someone feels romantic attraction for. Often lines up with sexual attraction, but not always.  Asexuals often differentiate romantic and sexual orientations.
Homosexual, gay and lesbian describes someone who is only attracted to someone of the same gender. Lesbian applies to women.
Heterosexual or straight describes someone who is only attracted to someone of another gender.
Asexual describes someone who is not sexually attracted to any gender.
Bisexual describes someone who is sexually attracted to two (or more) genders. 
Pansexual describes someone who is sexually attracted to all genders.

Queer is a massive umbrella term for all people who are part of a sexual or gender minority. (mostly) Historical slur, has been mainly reclaimed.

Heterosexism and cisgenderism are the assumptions that everyone is heterosexual/cisgender (they aren't) and that people who are these are superior to those who aren't (they aren't).
Homophobia, transphobia and biphobia, going by the word, are irrational fears of LGBT people (OED says phobia = an extreme or irrational fear of or aversion to something). Generally used to mean all discrimination, violence, prejudice and negativity towards LGBT people. Applies on multiple levels and to various severities. 

Sex ≠ gender identity  ≠ gender expression  ≠ sexual orientation

I do not claim to be all-knowing around these topics. These are defintions that I have learnt over the past few years, and these are how I understand them. If I have gotten anything wrong,  I'm very welcome to corrections.  I have only included the most common terms that will be relavent to this event, but there are plenty of sites that you can use for further research. I hope these have been helpful.


  1. I'll be looking forward to the upcoming posts. I like to think of myself as fairly enlightened about the terms but there were a few here that I hadn't heard before so thanks for the information.

  2. Great glossary, Nina! Some of these things I only came across when doing my reading. So much looking up was needed, but it was great to learn more.

    Thank you for linking to my LGBTQ YA Month! :) I really appreciate it!

  3. Haha, I read GLBT books all the time and I don't think I will ever get fed up with the genre. So yay for another LGBT event! Great glossary! Looking forward to the next posts! :)

  4. I've been looking forward to you doing this Nina. Now I've read this post and James Dawson's interview, and I can see how you're putting it together. I think it's going to be a really, really interesting month. No flapping about at the edges. Nice work.


Thanks for taking time to read this!
Comments are much loved.
Nina xxx

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