From the Widening our Vision (WoV) Team…

SOGIE and LGBTQ+ … That’s A Lot of Letters – What Do They All Mean?

At the moment of birth, there are three people (the person giving birth, the newborn, a medical professional/midwife) and the first question: “Is it a boy or a girl?” This question reflects the gender binary system in which most of us have been steeped.  But gender isn’t quite so simple; it’s not really binary.  That’s where SOGIE comes in.

SOGIE is the acronym for Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and (Gender) Expression, each of these being a range or continuum rather than a binary ‘this or that’ option. Think about the SOGIE scale as an abacus where people can identify in a variety of ways on each scale to equal a beautiful and whole person.

sexual orientation – noun: the type of sexual, romantic, emotional/spiritual attraction one has the capacity to feel for some others, generally labeled based on the gender relationship between the person and the people they are attracted to.

gender identity – noun: the internal perception of one’s gender, and how they label themselves, based on how much they align or don’t align with what they understand their options for gender to be.

gender expression – noun: the external display of one’s gender, through a combination of clothing, grooming, demeanor, social behavior, and other factors, generally made sense of on scales of masculinity and femininity. Also referred to as “gender presentation”.

LGBTQ+ is an acronym meant to encompass a whole bunch of diverse sexualities and genders. Folks often refer to the Q (standing for “queer” *) as an umbrella term,
under which live a whole bunch of identities. This is helpful because lesbian, gay, and bisexual aren’t the only marginalized sexualities, and transgender* isn’t the only
gender identity. In fact, there are many more of both!  *The “Q” sometimes stands for “questioning” and “transgender” is often thought of as an umbrella term itself (sometimes abbreviated “trans”; or “trans*” in writing). Lots of asterisks, lots of exceptions, because we’re talking about being inclusive of lots of different folks with different lived experiences.

lesbian – noun & adj.: women who are primarily attracted romantically, erotically, and/or emotionally to other women.

gay – 1 adj.: experiencing attraction solely (or primarily) to some members of the same gender. Can be used to refer to men who are attracted to other men and women who are attracted to women. 2 adj.: an umbrella term used to refer to the queer community as a whole, or as an individual identity label for anyone who is not straight.

bisexual – 1 noun & adj.: a person who experiences attraction to some men and women. 2 adj.: a person who experiences attraction to some people of their gender and another gender.

transgender – 1 adj.: a gender description for someone who has transitioned (or is transitioning) from living as one gender to another. 2 adj.: an umbrella term for anyone whose sex assigned at birth and gender identity do not correspond in an expected way.

queer – 1 adj.: an umbrella term to describe individuals who don’t identify as straight and/or cisgender. 2 noun: a slur used to refer to someone who isn’t straight and/or cisgender. Due to its historical use as a derogatory term, and how it is still used as a slur in many communities, it is not embraced or used by all LGBTQ people.

questioning – verb, adj.: an individual who or time when someone is unsure about or exploring their own sexual orientation or gender identity.

Sources: “Building an Inclusive Church” toolkit at  and

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