Do you know what LGBTQIA+ stands for? Here's what the acronym means

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Supporters outside Durban High Court during the Lindo Cele murder case on October 27, 2020 in Durban, South Africa
Supporters outside Durban High Court during the Lindo Cele murder case on October 27, 2020 in Durban, South Africa
Gallo Images / Contributor

It’s Pride Month!

This month, members of the LGBTQIA+ community (and their allies) celebrate their culture, activism and increase visibility of people who have been marginalized and shamed for their gender or sexuality in time memorial.

Do you have trouble remembering what each letter in the acronym means and describes? This article will be one you’ll need to bookmark immediately.

Here are what the letters in the acronym, LGBTQIAP+ mean:

Refer to gender info block below for further understanding of gender variants :


This describes a cisgender or transgender (refer to infographic below) woman who is physically and romantically attracted to other women. However, some women just prefer to call themselves gay.


This usually describes a cisgender or transgender man who is physically and romantically attracted to other men.


This describes a person who is physically or romantically attracted to two genders: men and woman.


This describes a person whose gender does not match their assigned sex at birth. For example, someone can be genetically born a man but identifies as a woman.


This is an umbrella term for anyone who is within the LGBTQIA+ community. It describes sexual and gender identities other than straight and cisgender.


Being intersex means you're born with a combination of male and female biological traits.  Whether it’s your anatomy, chromosomes, and/or hormones.

Read more | Local woman shares how she found out she was intersex and how it changed her life


This describes a person who does not experience sexual attraction to any person .


This is describes a person who experiences attraction to any person regardless of their gender or non-gender.

Plus +

This describes all other expressions of sexuality or gender within the spectrum of LGBTQIA+

Being a part of this community can mean different things for different people around the world.

If you’re in Indonesia, you will either get sentenced to eight years in prison or receive 100 lashes.

If you’re in one of our neighboring countries, Eswatini, Zambia, Malawi or Zimbabwe, you could get anywhere from one year to life imprisonment for your sexual or gender expression.

Although there are laws that protect LGBTQIA+ rights here in South Africa, there have still been some highly publicized attacks (some fatal) on people who are not heterosexual.

Gender Identity


A term for someone whose gender matches what they were assigned at birth. For example, if you were assigned female at birth and have a vagina and you agree and know yourself to be female based on this, then you are cisgender.


This is a term used to describe someone who is romantically and physically attracted to someone  of the opposite sex. For example, if you’re female and are only attracted to cisgender males, then you are heterosexual.

Cis-hetro (Cisgender and Heterosexual)

This is a term used to describe someone whose gender identity matches the one they were assigned at birth and they are physically and romantically attracted to the opposite sex.


This describes someone who does not identify as a male or a female.  This term is often used as an umbrella term for identities that fall outside the male or female gender binary.

Gender fluid

This describes someone whose gender varies with time. Sometimes they may present masculine and the next day feminine or both at any given time.

There are many more sexualities and genders that are not mentioned in this article, so we encourage more research into these for better understanding of yourself and those around you.


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