Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is the difference between sex and gender? 

Sex/Sexual Identity of a person is their biological sex at birth that is based on their physical anatomy.  This is the identification each of us have - of being male, female or intersex . 

Gender/Gender identity refers to self-conviction or how a person identifies themselves. Our gender identity is what we feel and our experienced sense about our gender. An individual’s gender identity may or may not be analogous to their sexual identity. (For eg. Some of us are transgender — which means that our biological sex and our gender identity do not match up)

Sexual Identity is objective whereas Gender identity is more of a social, legal and psychological construct. 

This also has no bearing on the individual’s sexual orientation. Each one of us can express our gender identity through appearance, behavior, or mannerisms which could be masculine, feminine, neither, or both. This is termed as gender expression.  In some cases, the expression of appearance and other outwards characteristics may conflict with society’s gender-normative expectations of behaviour. 


Here’s one of our blog articles on understander sex, gender and sexuality -

2. What is sexual orientation?

Sexual orientation describes an individual’s enduring physical, romantic, as well as emotional/spiritul attraction to another person (for example: straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual). It is a person’s sense of identity/self concept and feelings that determine who they are drawn to/ attracted to and who they will fall in love with.  

The American Psychological Association defines sexual orientation as “an enduring emotional, romantic, sexual or affectional attraction to individuals of a particular gender.” It “differs from sexual behavior because it refers to feelings and self-concept.”

An individual’s sexual orientation is not necessarily expressed in their behavior. Sexual orientation does not only include sexual relations but is also tied closely to a person’s intimate non-sexual bonds with their partners like affection, attachment, intimacy, mutual understanding, support, shared values, common goals, and ongoing commitment. Sexual orientation also helps a person define the group of people to which they belong. This way they are able to form satisfying and fulfilling romantic relationships, which is an essential component of their personal identity. 

3. How does sexual orientation differ from gender identity?

To put it in simple words, sexual orientation is about who you are attracted to and who you fall in love with while gender identity is more about who you are.

A person’s gender identity is their own sense of their gender. It could be male, female, transgender etc. Whereas a person’s sexual orientation may be straight, lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer, etc. 


4. What are gender roles? 

Gender roles are the social and cultural constructs or expectations of an individual’s behavior and appearance according to being women (feminine) and men (masculine). They are norms that define gender specific roles to society. 

For example traditional gender roles for masculinity include certain personality traits such as being direct, assertive, independent and logical whereas feminine gender roles include traits like being warm, supportive, interdependent and kind. Gender roles also extend to expectations of how one should dress, talk or behave as a man or a woman.

LGBT Rights: Frequently Asked Questions -UN Free & Equal

5. What does “transgender” or the third gender mean?

Transgender (or “trans”) is a broad term that covers a range of identities — from transsexual people, cross-dressers (or “transvestites”), people who identify as third gender, and others with gender atypical characteristics. Transgender people are those whose gender identity is different from their anatomical sex.

Most transgender people try to allign their appearances and bodies to match their internal gender identity. This process is called transition. During transition, transgender people make use of prescribed hormones by doctors to change their bodies. Some even undergo surgeries to change their anatomy. Transexuals are transgender people who use medical/ surgical means for transitioning. 

But not all transgender people take these steps, or undego medical procedures. Transition does not only mean hormonal or medical procedures. It also includes identity changes like changing clothing, appearance, name, pronouns used. Transitioning can also be through legal changes by changing identity documents to align with their gender identity.

As most of these legal or medical changes are often expensive, complicated  and time consuming, most transgender people do not achieve a complete transition. However, those who do complete a full physical sex transition along with the legal and personal transitions are able to align their gender identity to their biological sex and hence, no longer consider themselves to be transsexual or transgender.

Cross-dressers (or transvestites) are individuals who like to express their opposite gender characteristics for a variety of reasons. Their gender identity usually matches their anatomical sex, however, they occasionally enjoy dressing and acting in the style of the gender opposite to the one they were assigned at birth. Drag is historically based on cross-dressing. Drag is a gender-bending art form where an individual dresses up in a flamboyant manner, as a person usually of the opposite sex. It is a cross dressing show meant to exaggerate a specific gender identity. The idea of drag was mainly for entertainment and performances but now it also represents a celebration of LGBTQ+ pride. 

While drag’s main purpose has been for drag performance and entertainment, it is also used as self-expression and a celebration of LGBTQ+ pride. A typical drag show will include lip-syncing or dance, and performers often have elaborate clothing, hair, and makeup.

6. What do the letters LGBT(QQPIA) + mean?

This acronym is an umbrella which comprises of all the subcommunities that are marginalized and stigmatized in terms of  sexual orientation and gender identity/expression. The acronym stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning, Queer, Pansexual, Intersex, Asexual/Aromantic/Agender. These terms may also vary depending on culture, generation, location, and other factors.

LESBIAN AND GAY  Starting off with the letters L and G . These two terms refer to people who are homosexuals (i.e.,) are attracted to people of the same sex.  Lesbians are women who are attracted to other women and Gays refer specifically to men who are attracted to men 

BISEXUAL is a term that describes those who are sexually as well as romantically attracted to both men and women. In certain cases people who are bisexual may be attracted to one of the genders (male/female) more than the other. Eg. Their attraction towards men might be more than as compared to their attraction to women or vice versa. 

TRANSGENDER is a wide-ranging term for people whose gender identity or gender expression differs from the biological sex they were assigned at birth.


The “Q” stands both for Questioning and/or Queer:

QUESTIONING is a term that describes those who are unsure of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity.

QUEER is a term used to describe all the sexual orientations and gender identities except for heterosexuality. People who express themselves as queer are not sure if their identity fits perfectly with the other sexuality/gender spectrum of LGBTQ+  so they prefer to use Queer as their identity which is a flexible term. Anyone who is not heterosexual can identify as being Queer.  The Queer identity allows people to be  part of the LGBTQ+ community when they have complicated identities and cannot pick one straight-cut identity. This term was originally used as a derogatory slur but the younger generations have reclaimed it as a term used for those who do not refer to political ideologies not follow  a gender-binary.

PANSEXUAL is a term that refers to those who feel sexual and emotional attraction towards people of all gender identities and sexes. The prefix ‘pan’ means ‘all’ i.e., this person rejects all gender binaries and is attracted to every other person in the Pride community. 

INTERSEX refers to people who are born with biological sexual characteristics that cannot be associated with  single sex(male or female). An intersex sexual anatomy, gonads/reproductive organs, and/or chromosome patterns do not fit into one type of typical sex. These developmental differences can be identified at birth or become evident later in life.  An intersex individual can identify themseleves as male or female or as neither. Intersex status is not analogous with sexual orientation or gender identity. 

ASEXUAL Or “Ace.” are terms used to refer to those who  experience very little to no sexual attraction. They do not have any desire for a sexual partnership. Asexuality is different from celibacy (where a person deliberately abstains from sexual activity) and it is not the same as being aromantic.  

AROMANTIC are those who experience little to no romantic attraction towards anyone. People who are aromantic are not always asexual and vice versa. 

+  This plus sign is not merely a mathematical symbol. This sign includes every other person or communities on the broad spectrum of  gender and sexuality that most letters are unable to cover. letters and words can’t yet describe.


7. What are the other sexual and gender identities that are included in the Pride spectrum?

DEMISEXUAL is a term that describes those who do not experience or feel any kind of sexual attraction until  they have formed strong emotional bonds (but not necessarily romantic) with another person.

GRAYSEXUAL is used to describe those who experience or feel sexual attraction on an occasional basis. This term covers the gray space between asexuality and sexual attraction.

CISGENDER It refers to someone whose gender identity matches the sex they were assigned at birth.

GENDER NONCONFORMING, OR G.N.C. The term describes people who have a gender expression that does not adhere to the traditional roles associated with masculinity or femininity set by the society. This term is to do with the gender expression or roles of a person (how one acts, their behaviour and how they present themselves ) rather than their gender identity (which is an individual's internal self concept). Being a gender-nonconforming person  is not the same as a transgender person,  although some transgender people maybe be G.N.C.

NONBINARY is an umbrella term to describe gender identities that do not fit into the gender binary of male or female. Such a person, who identifies as non-binary, has a self concept that is outside the gender binary. 

8. What are the different Non-Binary gender identities? 

The non-binary spectrum is a broad umbrella that encompases various genders like:

ANDROGYNY- It is a form of gender expression that includes aspects of both femininity and masculinity. People of any gender identity or sexual orientation can be androgynous, but it is often favoured by non-binary persons as a means to externally express their gender identity. These individuals present themselves as being in between or a blend of the binary options(male and female/masculine and feminine) or neither of the two traits(gender neutrality). 

INTERGENDER- These individuals have an identity between male and female 

AGENDER- These are individuals who identify themselves as not having a gender (i.e,) they have an internal sense of being that is strictly genderless. Some agender-identified individuals may see themselves as being gender-neutral, rather than not having a gender at all, but in any case they do not identify with a particular gender. They typically avoid using specific gender terms like male or female and refer to themselves with words like ‘they’ or ‘them’. 

BIGENDER- These individuals are double gendered (i.e.,) they experience only two gender identities, either simultaneous or varying between both. 

PANGENDER- This is a “multi gender” which is not specific and covers a large expanse. These individuals experience an infinite gender spectrum. 

GENDER FLUID Sometimes a person’s identity may change, shift or fluctuate from time to time. These individuals are said to be gender fluid, where they may express and identify themselves differently on various occasions or days.

DEMIGENDER- These individuals feel a partial connection to the concept of gender. 


9. Can people change their sexual orientation ?

No it is not possible as well as unethical to change an individual’s  sexual orientation, and efforts to do so can be quite damaging to the person.

The American Psychological Association has stated scientific evidence that shows how reparative therapy (therapy which claims to change LGBT people) does not work and that it can do more harm than good to the person involved. 

The American Psychiatric Association states that “[t]here is no published scientific evidence supporting the efficacy of reparative therapy . . . to change sexual orientation,” and that there is “no evidence that any treatment can change a homosexual person’s deep seated feelings for others of the same sex.”

The American Counseling Association, the American School Health Association, the National Association of School Psychologists, and the National Association of Social Workers have also condemned therapy aimed at changing sexual orientation. Such therapies can have adverse effects on the person and can lead to severe psychological harm. 

Religious and other secular orthodox organizations who are anti-LGBT+ may form various policies and campaigns that are homophobic in nature because they believe there is something wrong with the community.   All these studies and laws based on ideological biases with no sound backing tend to be detrimental to the community. These false biases, laws, policies, negative attitudes  that lead to violence and discrimination are what we need to change, not our loved ones from the LGBT+ community. -

10. Is homosexuality or being a part of the LGBTQ+ a mental disorder?

No, being who you are, in your own expressions of gender and sexual identities, is not a disorder. The lack of research for the same makes it evident that there is no association with one’s gender/sexual identity and orientation and psychopathology. Both heterosexual behavior as well as homosexual behavior are normal facets of human sexuality as well as a regular way human beings form bonds. There are still a lot of stereotypes and prejudices surrounding this community  but various movements to fight this discrimination has led to acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community across various organizations in this country as well as the world to recognize these orientations as a part of human experience.

11. What causes a person to have a particular sexual orientation and gender identity?

There are no specific determinants of how an individual develops a particular sexual orientation and gender identity.  Though research does not make it evident, experts believe that such developments are due to a combination of factors like genetic, hormonal, biological, psychological,developmental, social and cultural influences. Nature and nurture both play a role but usually people don’t choose what they are or how they feel. Sexual orientation and gender identity are shaped at any early age and individuals recognize this as a core part of who they are. 

Various well known mental health organizations, including the American Psychological Association, have stated that sexual orientation is not a choice and is not something that can be changed.

12. What is the nature of same-sex relationships?

Various stereotypes about lesbian, gay, and bisexual people like, such as those claiming that the relationships that LGBTQ+ persons have are usually unhappy and dysfunctional, is a false claim. Research indicates that many lesbian women and gay men have satisfactory and committed relationships that are equivalent in measure to heterosexual relationships.


Another misconception about homosexual couples is that their relationships are unstable. But research talks against these claims and shows that many lesbians and gay men form enduring relationships. The aspect of stability depends on the support and recognition their relationships get in terms of legal rights and responsibilities associated with marriage. Attaining various legal aspects like inheritance, life insurance and other civil liberties like most legally recognized couples get and social aspects like recognition in society, status, occupational as well as personal success are some things that homosexual couples in India face problems with. Heterosexual individuals however do not face much trouble to attain these marital rights. 

There is also a common stereotype that homosexual couples have different goals and values when compared to heterosexual couples. According to research findings however, determinants of  relationship satisfaction, commitment and stability are quite the same for both homosexual and heterosexual couples. 

13. Is there something wrong with being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender?

No. There is nothing wrong with identifying yourself as part of the LGBTQ+ community. A person’s gender identity and sexual orientation are a part of who they are. People from the community have existed throughout various cultures and histories. American Psychological Association and various other mental health agencies and other organizations have recognized that homosexuality or being gender variant is not a disorder either. It is your identity and as common as a human variation of being left-handed. 

Various discriminatory laws, policies and attitudes that persist in parts of our society like schools, workplaces, places of worship and larger communities, that mistreat and discriminate LGBTQ+ people are wrong and hurt people of the community as well as their loved ones. So we must all try to work towards making sure that all LGBTQ+  people have full civil rights and can live openly with no fear from discrimination and violence.

14. What is Gender Dysphoria? 

For some individuals, the difference between their gender identity and sexual identity can lead to serious emotional and psychological  distress that affects their health and daily functioning if not addressed properly. The medical diagnosis of a person experiencing this distress is termed as Gender dysphoria. People with gender dysphoria often feel discomfort associated with their body and the gender roles expected of them. Gender dysphoria is not related to being gender non-conforming nor is it the same as being homosexual. It is more to do with significant distress or impairment due to incongruency of gender identity and biological sex. Gender dysphoria if not dealt with properly can escalate to severe mental disturbances.

15. How do I know what pronoun to use if I’m unsure?

If you are unsure on what pronoun to use, listen to what other people (probably someone who is closer to that person) are calling out to refer to the person, this would help you use the correct pronoun. 

In certain situations, though, it is recommended to ask the person respectfully rather than guessing it. If you must ask first, start with your own for example,  “Hello there, I'm Sarah and my pronouns are she and her. What about you?” It is of utmost importance to respect each person and their identity. People may use various pronouns ranging from  female pronouns, male pronouns, gender-neutral pronouns or a mix of pronouns. Do not ever use the word “it” when referring to someone. In case you accidentally use a wrong pronoun, make sure to apologize immediately and be sincere about it and move forward. Do not dwell on the situation which could make it awkward and disrespectful to everyone. - pronouns

16. Are there LGBT people only in Western countries? 

No. LGBT people normally exist in all countries, across all ethnicities in all socioeconomic levels and in various communities. They are not just a western concept like what most orthodox groups claim. Although ironically the criminal laws imposed to punish the LGBTQ+ are in fact of western origin that were established during colonial rule. Such laws are now being abolished and fought against for the rights of the community. 

17. Have LGBT people always existed? 

Yes. LGBT people have always been a part of our world since the olden times. There is various evidence of such people from each time period and in various historical eras. Examples are recorded dating back to prehistoric cave paintings in South Africa, the Egyptian hieroglyphics, the Greek myths,  ancient Indian scriptures to the early Ottoman literature. Some societies and cultures have been traditionally accepting towards LGBT people.  

Here’s a blog article by us that you can read to know more!

18. What is an ally? What can I do to become one?

An ally refers to an individual who supports the people of the community by speaking out and standing up for the person or group that is targeted, prejudiced and discriminated against. The work of an ally is to work towards ending oppression by supporting and advocating for those individuals who are mistreated on unfair grounds.  Specifically for the LGBTQ communities, an ally is someone who advocates and  stands up for the rights of the LGBTQ people. These allies are the most important, powerful as well as impactful voices of the LGBTQ movement.

In order to be an ally you first need to understand and educate yourself on the LGBTQ+ spectrum. Do your research and ask educated questions in a respectful manner if you don’t understand anything.  Respect each individual and community and make sure to use proper pronouns when addressing people. Things may get uncomfortable in the start but learn to confront your own prejudices and bias and be open minded. Use your voice of privilege to amplify the voices of the LGBTQ+ community. Donate and sign petitions in support of the community and at the same time take your online activism into real-life scenarios. Defend your LGBT friends against any discrimination they may face and stand up to abolish any stereotypes and prejudices about them. Be a listener and support your friends from the community. Speak up whenever you see anyone being mistreated or not represented properly.