New Beginnings does not discriminate based on sex, gender identity/expression, sexual orientation, age, race, health status (including HIV-positive), physical, mental or emotional ability, socio-economic class, national origin, immigration status, or religious or political affiliation.
What Does LGBTQ mean?
LGBTQ is an acronym describing Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer individuals as a collective community. It is important to note that the acronym includes identity labels for both gender and sexuality. It may be argued that the transgender and transsexual causes are not the same as that of LGB people. This argument centers on the idea that transgender and transsexuality have to do with gender identity, or a person’s understanding of being male or female, irrespective of their sexual orientation. Meanwhile LGB issues may be seen as a matter of sexual orientation, or attraction.
Many variations exist, including variations which merely change the order of the letters. The acronym may also include additional Q for Questioning (sometimes abbreviated with a question mark) (LGBTQ, LGBTQQ, GLBTQ?). Other variants may add a ‘U’ for “unsure“, an ‘I‘ for intersex, another ‘T’ (or ‘TS’ or the numeral ‘2′) for two-spirit people, an ‘A’ for allies, and/or an ‘A’ for asexual. Some may also add a ‘P‘ for pansexual or polyamorous, and an ‘O‘ for omnisexual or other.
Important LGBTQ Terminology & Concepts to Understand
Coming Out/coming out of the closet: describes the voluntary public announcement of one’s sexual orientation and gender identity. Being “out” means not concealing one’s sexual orientation, usually a LGBTQ orientation.
Cisnormativity: The assumption that a ‘normal’ person’s gender identity is the same as their sex assigned at birth.
Gender: is assigned at birth based on sex. Based on assigned gender individuals are then socialized to act in specific ways based on cultural norms of masculinity and femininity. It refers to self-expression, performance, actions, behavior, dress, and grooming based on these cultural norms. Everyone has a gender and unique way of expressing their gender, and it may change over time.
Gender Identity: inner sense of one’s gender; including: sense of self and self-image presented to the world, and self-identification. The label we use to describe our gender to ourselves and others.
Alternative Gender Models: models to include those who do not fit into the traditional gender model/gender binary. These models allow for gender identity to be individual and unique to each person. Gender is seen not as a binary, but rather an expansive spectrum of identities, where gender can be fluid and change over time.
Androgynous: an androgyne in terms of gender identity, is a person who does not fit cleanly into the typical masculine and feminine gender roles of their society. They may also use the term ambigender to describe themselves. Many androgynes identify as being mentally “between” male and female, or as entirely genderless. They may class themselves as non-gendered, agendered, between genders, intergendered, bigendered or, genderfluid
Cisgender: term that describes individuals whose gender identity is the same as the gender they were assigned at birth
Gender Non-Conforming: is a term used to describe someone who does not conform to society’s expectations of their assigned gender. Not all gender-nonconforming people identify as transgender, however they experience homophobia, biphobia, and/or transphobia as their gender presentation leads them to be perceived as LGBTQ.
Genderfluid: moving between genders or with a fluctuating gender identity
Gender Performance/Play: some people live primarily in the gender they were assigned at birth, but occasionally dress up in another gender for performance, comfort, or fun.
Genderqueer: a person whose assigned gender at birth is male or female who transitions to live full time as genderqueer. Their gender identity, expression, and presentation may be genderfluid, androgynous, agender, bigender, ambigender, intergender and/or gender non-conforming. They may identify as both male and female or neither male or female. They may use “he” and “she”, “he” or “she”, as well as other pronouns.
Intergender: someone who defines themselves as in between or beyond the traditional genders or simply refuses to define their gender at all.
Traditional Gender Model: model stating gender and sex are synonymous, that only two exist (male/man and female/woman) and that they are opposites of each other (also known as the gender binary). This model assigns gender at birth based on physical anatomy of genitalia and assigns gender roles and expectations to each category.
Bigender: is a tendency to move between masculine and feminine gender-typed behavior depending on context, expressing a distinctly “en femme” persona and a distinctly “en homme” persona, feminine and masculine respectively. It is a subset of transgender. While an androgynous person retains the same gender-typed behavior across situations, the bigendered person consciously or unconsciously changes their gender-role/behavior from primarily masculine to primarily feminine, or vice versa.
Transgender Woman: a person whose assigned gender at birth was male/boy who transitions to live full time as a female/woman. (Also use term MTF (male to female) transsexual)
Transgender Man: a person whose assigned gender at birth was female/girl who transitions to live full time as a male/man. (Also use term FTM (female to male) transsexual)
Two-Spirit: American Indians who fulfill one of many mixed gender roles found traditionally among many American Indian and Canadian First Nations indigenous groups. The term usually implies a masculine spirit and a feminine spirit living in the same body and was coined by contemporary gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender Native Americans to describe themselves and the traditional roles they are reclaiming. There are many indigenous terms for these individuals in the various Native American languages.
Heteronormativity: is the body of lifestyle norms that hold that people fall into distinct and complementary genders (man and woman) with natural roles in life. It also holds that heterosexuality is the normal sexual orientation, and states that sexual and marital relations are most (or only) fitting between a man and a woman. Consequently, a “heteronormative” view is one that involves alignment of biological sex, sexuality, gender identity, and gender roles.
Insider Language: speech that is historically hate speech against LGBTQ individuals and communities may be “reclaimed” and used with pride by some inside the LGBTQ community. A term used to self-identify may not feel the same when used by someone outside the community, it may only be appropriate to use the term if you yourself identify as LGBTQ.
Mirroring: listening to the words that people use to describe themselves and using that language in speaking with them.
Outing: act of revealing that someone is LGBTQ to someone who doesn’t know. Advocates should never out a survivor to others without their permission. Abusers may threaten to out their partner to gain power and control.
Passing: a person’s ability to be accepted or regarded as a member of the sex or gender with which they identify, or with which they physically present
Stealth: refers to someone who is transgender who now passes as their chosen gender and does not publically identify as transgender.
Queer: historically queer has been used in a derogatory way, and can be offensive; however, some LGBTQ individuals have reclaimed it as an umbrella term to describe everyone who is not straight. It is also used to describe being attracted to multiple genders; more inclusive than bisexual. It is also used in academia; for example: “Queer Studies”.
Sexuality is made up of three components:
- Orientation: who you are sexually attracted to, who you love, sexual fantasies, emotional & social preferences
- Behavior: what you do
- Identity: what you call yourself
Self-Identify: how someone identifies themselves; it is important to respect a person’s right to self-identify regardless of their behavior and orientation, and to avoid making assumptions about how someone identifies based on these characteristics
Asexuality: is a sexual orientation describing individuals who do not experience sexual attraction. Asexuality is not the same as celibacy, which is the deliberate abstention from sexual activity; many asexuals do have sex, and most celibates are not asexual.
Bisexuality: is a sexual orientation categorized by sexual, affectional, or romantic attraction toward members of both sexes. (Allsexuality is a variant term)
Demisexuality: (also graysexuality) asexual orientation categorized by those who do not experience sexual attraction unless they form a strong emotional connection with someone. In general, demisexuals are not sexually attracted to anyone of any gender; however, when a demisexual is emotionally connected to someone else (whether the feelings are romantic love or deep friendship), the demisexual experiences sexual attraction and desire, but only towards the specific partner or partners.
Heterosexuality: is a sexual orientation categorized by sexual, affectional, or romantic attraction between opposite sexes.
Homosexuality: sexual orientation categorized by sexual, affectional, or romantic attraction primarily to people of the same sex.
Pansexuality/Anthrosexuality/Omnisexuality: is a sexual orientation characterized by the potential for aesthetic attraction, romantic love and/or sexual desire for people, regardless of their gender identity or biological sex.
Questioning: a term that can refer to a person who is questioning their gender, sexual identity or sexual orientation. People who are questioning may be unsure of their sexuality, or still exploring their feelings
Pronouns: for all individuals pronouns are an important part of gender/gender identity. The chart below shows four examples of pronouns individuals may use for themselves. Because many languages only have two options for gender, some individuals have started using third gender or alternative pronouns.
Intersex: is not a gender identity, but is often confused with the term transgender. Intersex people naturally (without medical intervention) develop primary and/or secondary sex characteristics that do not fit clearly into society’s definitions of male and female.
Why include intersex in LGBTQ? Although intersex is a medical condition not a gender identity, many people who are intersex share similar experiences with transgender people. They face homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia, and can be threatened by abusive partners to have their intersex status outed.
What Makes LGBTQ Intimate Partner Violence Different?
Myth: In same-sex relationships the majority of violence is mutual.
Fact: Abuse is not mutual; “boys being boys”, etc.; it is about one partner exerting power and control over another through any number of means (not just physical). See detailed domestic violence description here.
Myth: The abuser is always the physically larger, more “butch”/masculine partner.
Fact: Abuse is about a willingness to use tactics to gain power and control over another person regardless of how a person looks or how they identify their gender or sexuality. Anyone of any gender can be abusive.
Myth: Domestic violence doesn’t occur/occurs much less, in LGBTQ relationships.
Fact: 25-33% of LGBTQ individuals report experiencing IPV in their lifetime
Myth: Women’s abuse tactics use less physical violence.
Fact: Because of gender stereotypes, many people believe that a woman abuser is more likely to use emotional tactics of abuse rather that physical tactics. The truth is that women abusers can and do use the same tactics as men abusers including beating, raping, and sometimes killing their partners.
In the LGBTQ Community…
- Homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia do some of the batterer’s work for them by isolating the survivor, destroying their self-esteem, and convincing them that no one will help them because of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity.
- Partner abuse is largely not identified as a community issue, which increases isolationfor survivors
- The survivor is likely to have the same support systems, such as friends and social spaces, as the abuser. Leaving their partner may mean they lose their community.
- Internalized homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia increase the self-blame of the survivor.
- The abuser and/or others may blame the survivor’s sexual and/or gender identityfor the abuse.
- Lack of visibility of LGBTQ individuals means that there are few role modelsfor relationships.
- With little to no societal validation of LGBTQ individuals, people in a survivor’s life may not even recognize that the survivor is in a relationship, much less that s/he is being abused.
- Many people are closeted and cannot turn to friends, family, faith communities, or employers for support.
- There is a greater likelihood of no arrest, wrongful arrest, or dual arrest when calling the police, and no restraining order or dual restraining orders given by judges.
- There are fewer resources available for LGBTQ survivors.
- There is a lack of screening to determine who the abuser is and who the survivor is by police, courts, support groups, shelters, and other services.
- There may be pressure not to air dirty laundry about partner abuse or to use the legal system.
Examples of Tactics of Abuse Relevant to LGBTQ Communities
In addition to the tactics of abuse that are commonly used by abusers in all relationships (more info here), there are some additional tactics that abusers can use when one or more person in the relationship is LGBTQ-identified. They may include the following:
- Questioning the validity of the survivor’s gender identity or sexual orientation
- Isolation one’ s partner from LGBTQ community groups or social spaces
- Controlling what someone wears or how they express their gender or sexuality
- Name calling using homo/bi/transphobic slurs;
- Pressuring one’s partner to be out and/or blaming one’s partner for being “too” out
- “Defining reality”, i.e. “Now that you are (gay, queer, transgender, etc.), you can’t do this,” or “If you want to be really (gay, queer, transgender, etc.), you have to do this;”
- Using stereotypes about LGBTQ relationships to control one’s partner, i.e. “now that you are with a woman, you can’t have any women friends or look at other women.”
- Withholding hormones needed for gender transition
- Stalking, which can be easier if the partner is the same gender because they can make calls pretending to be the survivor or access services that are gender-specific
- Refusing to let one’s partner rest or heal from gender transition-related surgeries
- Public displays of affection in areas that are not LGBTQ-friendly to intimidate or scare one’s partner.
Note: Physical abuse in LGBTQ relationships can be just as severe as in straight relationships including tactics such as: pushing; hitting; punching; strangulation; hurting pets; taking mobility aides or prosthetics; restricting medical access; controlling food; locking in or out of the house; threatening or attempting suicide; murder; etc. Common myths are that women cannot be as violent as men, or that two men will be evenly matched in a physical fight, yet these are untrue.
- Not respecting words used to describe parts of one’s partner’s body or body boundaries
- Exposure to HIV or sexually transmitted infections
- Using stereotypes to define reality around sex, i.e. “all (lesbians, queers, gays, etc.) have sex this way;”
- Using gender roles to control what partner does sexually, i.e. “Real (men, women, butches, femmes) do this;”
- Forcing one’s partner to have sex in a way that doesn’t align with their gender identity
- Using the myth that women cannot rape, or that men cannot be raped to deny or discount sexual assault.
Note: Sexual abuse in LGBTQ relationships can be just as severe as in straight relationships including tactics such as: rape, forcing sex acts; forcing sex in exchange for housing, food, money; sexual harassment; forcing sex with other people; forcing monogamy or forcing polyamory; withholding sex in order to control the partner; etc. LGBTQ survivors may deal with the added shame of being the target of sexual violence from someone in their community — a community they believed was safe. They may also discount or minimize the sexual abuse they experienced because of stereotypes that women cannot rape and that men cannot be raped.
- Getting one’s partner fired from their job (which can be easier if the partner is of the same gender and calls impersonating the survivor to say “I quit”)
- Identity theft (which can be easier if the partner is the same gender)
- Using economic status to determine roles in a relationship
- Threatening to out one’s partner to their employer
- Threatening to out one’s partner to parents or relatives (if they are paying for tuition, housing, utilities, or including them in an inheritance).
Note: It is illegal for employers to discriminate based on sex, gender identity/expression, or sexual orientation.
- Threat of outing one’s partner’s sexual orientation, gender identity, S/M or polyamory practices, HIV status, or any other personal information to their employer, parents, friends, teachers, community, child protective services, the press, etc.
- Using the survivor’s sexual orientation or gender identity against them
- Convincing one’s partner of danger or rejection in reaching out or interacting with others in their communities
- Convincing the survivor that no one will help them because they are LGBTQ; telling them that they are “too (gay, masculine, feminine, etc),” or “not (gay, masculine, feminine, etc.) enough.”
This page adapted from: Quinn, Mary-Elizabeth. 2010. Open Minds, Open Doors Transforming Domestic Violence Programs to Include LGBTQ Survivors. the Network la Red.
FAQs from LGBTQ Victims/Survivors
I Identify as Trans*/Gender-Nonconforming… Can I Seek Shelter at New Beginnings?
New Beginnings does not discriminate based on gender identity, and will work with anyone fleeing domestic, sexual, and/or stalking violence, to find safety. Our ability to shelter someone at our emergency shelter varies depending on a large number of factors, flushed out in our extensive intake process. Click Here to Read More about Our Emergency Shelter.
Will Seeking Services at New Beginnings Require Me to Be Out?
No. New Beginnings staff may not out you to anyone without your explicit permission, as stated in our confidentiality policy. You may also ask an advocate to keep your identity/orientation confidential, from other agency staff.
Reminder: One-to-one conversations and meetings between a New Beginnings advocate and a victim/survivor are protected by confidentiality and won’t be shared (including to confirm or deny use of services) with immigration authorities, medical personnel, law enforcement, or any other third party without explicit written consent (except in cases involving the suspected abuse/neglect of a child, elder or incapacitated adult, or when it is determined someone is a threat to themselves/others) .
Can I Get a Restraining Order Against My Partner?
Yes. The State of New Hampshire recognizes non-heterosexual intimate relationships, in restraining order proceedings.