LGBTIQA+ Students Guide

PARSA is passionate about advocating for the needs of LGBTIQA+ students in the ANU community. To this end, 2018 saw the launch of the PARSA Queer Advocacy Committee (QUAC) and the introduction of autonomous events for queer* and questioning postgraduate students. 

Get Involved

If you are a queer postgraduate student and interested in being part of the Queer Advocacy Committee, please fill in this google form.

If you're just keen on meeting other queer* and questioning postgraduate students, join the Postgraduate Queer Space (ANU) Facebook Page, or come along to one of our regular Queer Catch-Ups (advertised on Facebook and on the events page of the website).

If you're not on Facebook and still want to be kept in the loop about events, news, opportunities and activities, email Tess on parsa.advocacy@anu.edu.au.

LGBTIQA+ Explained

The LGBTIQA+ acronym refers to sexual orientation, gender identity and intersexuality. 

Lesbian: Women who are attracted to the same gender

Gay: Men who are attracted to the same gender (or women who are attracted to the same gender).

Bisexual: People who are attracted to the same gender and different genders. Bisexuality is unrelated to a person's own gender or promiscuity, it simply means they feel attraction to more than one gender.

Transgender: The word "trans" is Latin for "cross". Transgender people are people whose gender identities are different to the gender they were assigned at birth. In our medical system, most babies born are categorised as male or female based on their physical characteristics (genitals, hormones, etc.).

For many people, however, the gender they were assigned is not the identity that actually exists within them - though they are not "broken", "mismatched" or strange.

The term "transition" can describe a process that transgender people undergo in order to live their lives more fully as themselves. Transition does not necessarily have an end point, and there are many reasons why transgender people may (or may not) choose to include hormones or surgical procedures in their process.

Importantly, Tran’s people have no obligation to explain their decision; questions about their bodies are a part of the countless acts of abuse faced by Trans Australians every day.

Intersex: Intersex people have genital, chromosomal or other physical characteristics that don't fall into what is typically labelled as male or female.

To be intersex has long been the butt of gender jokes as they are stigmatised and grouped under the term "hermaphrodites" or sidelined and assigned a single gender. There are many variations within humans' biological makeup that are intersex - more than most people realise.

As intersex refers to biology, it does not describe a person's sexual or gender orientation. As Safe Schools Coalition explains, "intersex is often associated with a medical diagnosis of disorders, or differences of sex development (DSD). Some intersex individuals may prefer to be described as a 'person with an intersex variation' or be identified by their specific variation."

Queer*: The term queer* is still contentious; originating as a threatening label for gender and sexuality diverse people, meaning something "not straight". By the 1980s, the AIDS epidemic brought the issue of homophobia irrevocably to the fore.

One of the first groups to flip the meaning of queer and reclaim it were four gay men from ACT-UP (an organisation for gay men's health), who named themselves Queer Nation.

Since then, the word has somersaulted through radical communities and academia alike. Now queer is not just an umbrella term for sexuality and gender diverse people - it is a proclamation of fearless difference, a self-identifying commitment to counter culture.

Asexual: Asexuality is the absence of sexual attraction. It is just as varied as any other identity, and not every asexual person has the same desires: some asexual people are in romantic relationships where sometimes they desire sex, and some are in romantic relationships where they never desire sex, and some are not in romantic relationships at all.

Asexuality is rarely spoken about or represented in our society, which tends to focus on heterosexuality. Indeed, sexuality pervades nearly every aspect of the public sphere - advertising, popular culture, the mainstream media - and the way we talk about healthy relationships.

Asexuality is also underrepresented in the queer world; but perhaps losing the emphasis we put on sex as a marker of a person's ability to relate to others would be beneficial for us all.

Thank you to Lily Edelstein from the ABC for some of the above definitions and context.

More terms you may encounter

Gender fluidity/gender diversity: Many gender identities exist outside of masculine and feminine. Sex refers to a person's biological characteristics, while gender is a person's identity (who they feel they are inside) and the mix of those things can mean a person may identify as male, female, both or neither.

Gender diversity includes people who identify as transgender, gender fluid, intersex, gender questioning and genderqueer people. Gender diverse people do not owe an explanation for who they are, how they feel or how they look.

People who identify as gender fluid live between, above, behind, around gender. Some gender fluid people feel very masculine on some days, and feminine on others, while some live free from definition entirely. Gender fluidity and gender diversity is natural and unique to every individual.

Cisgender: This is a term used to describe people who identify with the gender they were assigned at birth, for example, a person born with a penis who identifies as a man is cisgender. Almost all public figures, advertising and mainstream media content represents the cisgender population.

Sexual fluidity: Living a sexually fluid life means embracing the notion that desire and sexuality can be organic, growing and changing with a person. Each individual's experience of sexual fluidity is different from the next - some people's sexuality can change from day to day, year to year, relationship to relationship.

Those who are sexually fluid may also use other labels to describe themselves, and those labels may change over time.

Pansexual: "Pan", meaning "all-inclusive", is an expression for a person's attraction to multiple genders. Some pansexual people describe their attraction as being based on chemistry rather than gender, but everyone is different.

Like bisexuality, there are a lot of misconceptions about polysexual people (people who feel attraction to more than one gender).

Heterosexism: The root of Heterosexism is a normative attitude to gender, sexuality and identity in society. Heterosexism describes the assumption that heterosexuality (romantic or sexual attraction between people of opposite sex or gender) is the default, and that non-normative bodies and attraction are strange and wrong.

Transphobia: Tragically, transphobia is both the specific hatred and fear of transgender people, and is felt by many people with non-normative bodies, identities and relationships.

It manifests as violence against Trans and gender diverse people, whether it be physical, verbal or emotional. Transphobia is rife in Australia, and the rest of the world.

Support

If you would like to seek support or access to services available, please contact:

ANU Counselling

A Gender Agenda

Aids Action Council

Lifeline 24/7 support

Contact PARSA

PARSA Office
Level 2, Di Riddell Student Centre
Kambri Precinct
Australian National University
Canberra ACT 2601

Office Hours:

9:00 am to 5:00 pm, Monday to Friday (except public holidays)
Call Us: +61 (02) 6125 4187
Write to Us: parsa@anu.edu.au