How to Have a Gay or Lesbian Relationship

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Entering into a gay relationship is much the same as entering into any relationship. Two people meet and get to know each other. Some things never change, even if the partners are of the same gender.

Difference Between Lesbian and Gay

Lesbian and gay are two kinds of homosexuality that involves one’s desire over another person of the same sex. People who are lesbians or gays are considered to be abnormal by others and in fact it is even a crime in some countries.

Lesbians are the desires between two female genders either sexually or romantically. In the past, they’re labeled by the society as abnormals and immorals especially those who are involved in lesbian relationships. No wonder there are lots of lesbian suicides because of these criticisms. In India, it’s a crime for women of the same sex to have sexual intercourse under the section 377 of their penal code.

The term gay is commonly referred by the people as the desire of two male genders romantically. But this notion is partly false, it is true that gays have desires with the same sex but also the term gay can be applied for women. Those who are in men to men and women to women relationships can be considered as gay. But in literature, gay means happy or lively.

Lesbians and gays are similarly different from each other. They are similar in the sense that they are both types of homosexuality but different since they have their own each and specific characteristics. Lesbian is the term in reference to the relationship between two women whereas the gay is not only applicable for men to men relationship but also to women. Lesbian is coined from the island Lesbos in Greece while Gay is coined from the French word Gai. Lesbian and Gay begin to be received the connotation of immorality during the 18th and 17th century respectively.

Nowadays, due to the constant information campaign about lesbians and gays, they are now most likely accepted in the society and there are even media personalities that are highly respected admit that they are lesbian or gay. No matter if you’re lesbian, gay, or straight, as long as you are not doing anything wrong then the people will surely accept you.

• The term lesbian is applicable between the two individuals involve in women to women relationship while the term gay can be applicable to both women to women and men to men relationship.

• Lesbian is coined from the island Lesbos whereas the term Gay comes from a French word Gai.

Difference Between Lesbian and Gay

Sexuality: am I gay, lesbian or bisexual?

Sexual feelings are an important part of many people’s lives and can bring a lot of pleasure. Although these feelings are exciting, they can also be complicated and confusing.

If you’re trying to work out how you feel, what you’re into, and who you are attracted to, remember that you’re not the only one.

Everyone is different and your feelings and desires are personal to you. The important thing is that you are comfortable with who you are and how you feel.

Sexuality: am I gay, lesbian or bisexual?

Why Straight Men Gaze at Gay Women

The psychology behind the male sexual desire for lesbians

“What is the most popular porn search term in your state?”

This headline dutifully poked open a gap in my curiosity when variations of it appeared a few days ago.

The map, created by data from Pornhub, reveals that in the majority of states, people are searching for lesbian porn the most. Oh sure, in a few quirky states, cartoons are the most popular. Others have ethnic preferences or mother figures they’d like to, uh, well you know. Perhaps the cold weather in Wyoming, Maine, and Minnesota makes people pine for their stepsisters.

But otherwise, it’s lesbians riding up the Eastern seaboard on the Acela of love. Lesbians trotting across the vast, great Western plains. Lesbians uniting New Yorkers and Alabamians like little else does. Lesbians, from sea to shining sea.

Of course, the Pornhub results are far from scientific. Even past data dumps from the same company have purported to show that “teen” or “MILF” porn are actually more ubiquitous.

Nor is the fascination with lesbians solely a male phenomenon. In a survey of mainly female respondents, lesbian porn was the second most popular option, after the heterosexual variety.

Why Straight Men Gaze at Gay Women

How to Understand Gay and Lesbian People

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There are very harmful ideas spreading in our society about LGBTIQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersexual, queer) people. You may have been told in the past that gay love is a sin, that gay people are weak or any other type of cruel stereotype. [1] X Research source Re-examining long-held beliefs can be frightening and confusing, but it is without doubt admirable. Thinking deeply about your moral compass is an important part of leading an ethical life. If can be hard to accept something you don’t feel you understand. Fortunately, understanding LGBTIQ people is fairly simple.

How to Understand Gay and Lesbian People

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During puberty, you have lots of emotions and sexual feelings. It’s normal for girls to think about girls in a sexual way, and for boys to think about boys in a sexual way.

Some people realise they prefer people of the opposite sex, while others feel they prefer people of the same sex. Some people realise they are gay, lesbian or bisexual at an early age, while others may not know until later in life.

Some young people may also be confused about their sexual identity. They may be asexual, where you’re not interested in sex at all, or transgender, where people believe there is a mismatch between their biological sex and identity as a boy or girl. 

You do not choose your sexuality, it chooses you. Nobody knows what makes people gay, lesbian, bisexual or trans. Whatever your sexuality, you deserve to be with someone you love.

What if I’m gay, lesbian or bisexual?

It can help to talk to other people who are going through the same thing. Find out if there’s a young men’s or women’s group in your area for lesbian, gay or bisexual people.

These groups might be advertised at GP surgeries, sexual health or contraceptive clinics, pharmacies, youth groups, local papers, or on the internet.

Find sexual health services, including contraceptive clinics, near you.

Should I tell anyone I think I’m gay, lesbian or bisexual?

This is up to you. Being gay, lesbian or bisexual is normal, but some people do not understand this. Telling people you’re gay, lesbian or bisexual is known as coming out.

When you first come out, the most sensible option is to tell someone you trust, and who will be supportive and understanding.

If you’re not sure how you feel about your sexuality, there’s no hurry to make your mind up or tell people.

Coming out is an individual decision, and it’s important to do it in your own way and in your own time.

You can find out more at Stonewall: coming out as a young person.

What about sex if I’m gay, lesbian or bisexual?

We all have the same feelings and anxieties about sex. Deciding when you’re ready to have sex is a big step, whatever your sexuality and whoever your potential partner might be.

Everyone is ready at different times, but do not have sex just because your mates or your boyfriend or girlfriend are pressuring you. Remember, it’s always OK to say no.

You can also read Are you ready for sex? to find out the things to ask yourself if you’re thinking about having sex.

If you think the time is right, talk to your partner about needing to use contraception, having safer sex, picking the right time, and how you would both like the experience to be.

How to cope if you’re bullied for being gay

Some people do not understand that being gay, lesbian or bisexual is normal. Nobody has the right to tell someone else how to live their life or pick on them because of who they’re attracted to.

If someone bullies you because you’re gay, lesbian or bisexual, it’s their problem, not yours, and they should not get away with it. This is called homophobic bullying.

Bullying can take many forms, including stares, looks, whispers, threats and violence. If you’re being bullied because you’re gay, lesbian or bisexual, tell someone you trust. This could be a teacher, friend, your parents, or a helpline.

Schools have a legal duty to ensure homophobic bullying is dealt with. Find out more from the Anti-Bullying Alliance on where to find help if you’ve been bullied for advice.

You’ll find information about talking to teachers and parents, and the contact details of anti-bullying organisations and helplines. Talking to someone who is understanding will always help if you have worries or questions as you’ll feel supported and more confident.

You can find out more about dealing with homophobic bullying on these websites: 

This is a charity for young people and adults affected by homophobia. It has a helpline for young people, parents or teachers who want to report homophobic, biphobic or transphobic bullying. Call the EACH actionline on 0808 1000 143 on weekdays, 9am to 4.30pm. Calls are free from landlines and most mobiles. 

Stonewall is a charity that campaigns for equal rights for lesbians, gay men, bisexual and trans people. Its Education for All campaign tackles homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying in schools across the UK. You can find case studies, facts and figures about bullying in schools, and advice for young people and teachers on the charity’s website.

The LGBT+ anti-violence charity can help if you experience homophobia, transphobia or biphobia wherever it occurs. Call their national helpline on 0800 999 5428 or contact them online.

The charity offers a safe and confidential place for you to talk about anything. No problem is too big or too small. Call one of their counsellors free on 0800 1111, chat to them online or send an email.

Page last reviewed: 2 August 2018 Next review due: 2 August 2021

What is sexuality?

Your sexuality or ’sexual orientation‘ is a whole package of things that make up how you express yourself sexually. It includes:

You may find that all aspects of your sexuality match up. For example you might be a man who is attracted to men, has sex with men and identifies as gay. Or you may find your sexuality is more complicated. For example you might be a woman who is attracted to men and identifies as straight, but also sometimes has sex with women. Your sexuality is personal to you and there is no right or wrong way to feel.

Your gender identity is different to your sexuality. For example whether you feel you ‘fit’ into the category of ‘girl’ or ‘boy’ growing up, or whether you feel your gender is different to the sex you were assigned at birth.

What do all the different labels mean and what if none of them fit me?

There are lots of words that people use to describe their sexual orientation. Here are some of the more common ones. Different ones might be used in your language or in your culture.

*LGBTQ+ – Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning and others

Some people identify strongly with a label like ‘gay’, while others don’t feel that any of these words fit their sexuality or don’t want to be labelled at all.

Getting support

Meeting and talking to other people who have had similar experiences can really help when you’re coming to terms with your sexuality. You can look for LGBTQ+ support groups in your area, call a helpline or join an online support group.

The websites below also have links to support organisations and helpful information.

About This Article

It can be difficult to re-examine long-standing beliefs about sexuality. However, you can have a better understanding of different sexual orientations by learning more about gay and lesbian people. Work on dismissing any stereotypes that you may have about gay and lesbian people so that you can start working on seeing them as the people that they are. Remind yourself that you cannot determine anyone’s sexuality based on their appearance, voice, or mannerisms. Try to interact with the LGBT+ community to learn more about the people and the issues they face. You can watch TV shows or read books with gay characters. Another important part of understanding gay and lesbian people is realizing people can’t choose their sexuality, as it’s an inherent part of who they are. The research of the scientific and mental health communities shows that sexuality is not a choice and that attempts to “convert” someone’s sexuality are dangerous and harmful. For more information on understanding gay and lesbian people, like how to react if someone comes out to you, read this summary help you?YesNo

LGBTQI+ Glossary of Terms

 Ally (Heterosexual Ally, Straight Ally) – Someone who is a friend, advocate, and/or activist for LGBTQ people. A heterosexual ally is also someone who confronts heterosexism in themselves and others. The term ally is generally used for any member of a dominant group who is a friend, advocate or activist for people in an oppressed group (i.e. White Ally for People of Color).

Androgynous – Term used to describe an individual whose gender expression and/or identity may be neither distinctly “female” nor “male,” usually based on appearance.

Asexual – A sexual orientation generally characterized by not feeling sexual attraction or desire for partnered sexuality. Asexuality is distinct from celibacy, which is the deliberate abstention from sexual activity. Some asexual people do have sex. There are many diverse ways of being asexual.

Biphobia – The fear, hatred, or intolerance of bisexual people.

Bisexual, Bi – An individual who is physically, romantically and/or emotionally attracted to men and women. Bisexuals need not have had sexual experience with both men and women; in fact, they need not have had any sexual experience at all to identify as bisexual.

Cisgender – a term used to describe people who, for the most part, identify as the gender they were assigned at birth.

Closeted  – Describes a person who is not open about his or her sexual orientation.

Coming Out  – A lifelong process of self-acceptance. People forge a lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender identity first to themselves and then may reveal it to others. Publicly identifying one’s orientation may or may not be part of coming out.

Down Low – Pop-culture term used to describe men who identify as heterosexual but engage in sexual activity with other men. Often these men are in committed sexual relationships or marriages with a female partner. This term is almost exclusively used to describe men of color.

Drag Queen/Drag King – Used by people who present socially in clothing, name, and/or pronouns that differ from their everyday gender, usually for enjoyment, entertainment, and/or self-expression. Drag queens typically have everyday lives as men. Drag kings typically live as women and/or butches when not performing. Drag shows are popular in some gay, lesbian, and bisexual environments. Unless they are drag performers, most Trans people would be offended by being confused with drag queens or drag kings.

Gay – The adjective used to describe people whose enduring physical, romantic and/or emotional attractions are to people of the same sex (e.g., gay man, gay people). In contemporary contexts, lesbian (n. or adj.) is often a preferred term for women. Avoid identifying gay people as “homosexuals” an outdated term considered derogatory and offensive to many lesbian and gay people.

Gender Expression  – Refers to how an individual expresses their socially constructed gender. This may refer to how an individual dresses, their general appearance, the way they speak, and/or the way they carry themselves. Gender expression is not always correlated to an individuals’ gender identity or gender role.

Gender Identity  – Since gender is a social construct, an individual may have a self perception of their gender that is different or the same as their biological sex. Gender identity is an internalized realization of one’s gender and may not be manifested in their outward appearance (gender expression) or their place in society (gender role). It is important to note that an individual’s gender identity is completely separate from their sexual orientation or sexual preference.

Gender Neutral  – This term is used to describe facilities that any individual can use regardless of their gender (e.g. gender neutral bathrooms). This term can also be used to describe an individual who does not subscribe to any socially constructed gender (sometimes referred to as “Gender Queer”).

Gender Non Conforming  – A person who is, or is perceived to have gender characteristics that do not conform to traditional or societal expectations.

Gender/Sexual Reassignment Surgery – Refers to a surgical procedure to transition an individual from one biological sex to another. This is often paired with hormone treatment and psychological assistance. A “Transsexual” individual must go through several years of hormones and psychological evaluation and live as the “opposite” or “desired” gender prior to receiving the surgery (see intersex).

Gender Role  – A societal expectation of how an individual should act, think, and/or feel based upon an assigned gender in relation to society’s binary biological sex system.

Heterosexual – An adjective used to describe people whose enduring physical, romantic and/or emotional attraction is to people of the opposite sex. Also straight.

Homosexual – (see Offensive Terms to Avoid) Outdated clinical term considered derogatory and offensive by many gay and lesbian people. The Associated Press, New York Times and Washington Post restrict usage of the term. Gay and/or lesbian accurately describe those who are attracted to people of the same sex.

Homophobia – Fear of lesbians and gay men. Prejudice is usually a more accurate description of hatred or antipathy toward LGBT people.

Intersex – People who naturally (that is, without any medical interventions) develop primary and/or secondary sex characteristics that do not fit neatly into society’s definitions of male or female. Many visibly intersex babies/children are surgically altered by doctors to make their sex characteristics conform to societal binary norm expectations. Intersex people are relatively common, although society’s denial of their existence has allowed very little room for intersex issues to be discussed publicly. Has replaced “hermaphrodite,” which is inaccurate, outdated, problematic, and generally offensive, since it means “having both sexes” and this is not necessarily true, as there are at least 16 different ways to be intersex.

In the Life  – Often used by communities of color to denote inclusion in the LGBTQ communities.

Kinsey Scale  – Alfred Kinsey, a renowned sociologist, described a spectrum on a scale of 0 6 to describe the type of sexual desire within an individual. 0  Completely Heterosexual – 6: Completely Homosexual. In his 1948 work Sexual Behavior in the Human Male. The Kinsey Scale is often used to dissect the bisexual community and describe the differences between sexual orientation and sexual preference.

Lesbian – A woman whose enduring physical, romantic and/or emotional attraction is to other women. Some lesbians may prefer to identify as gay (adj.) or as gay women.

LGBTQQIA  – An acronym used to refer to all sexual minorities: “Lesbian, Gay/Gender Neutral/Gender Queer, Bisexual/Bigender, Transgender/Transvestite/Transsexual, Questioning/Queer, Intersex, and Allies/Androgynous/Asexual.”

Lifestyle – (see Offensive Terms to Avoid) Inaccurate term used by anti-gay extremists to denigrate lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender lives. As there is no one straight lifestyle, there is no one lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender lifestyle.

Men Loving Men (MLM)  – Commonly used by communities of color to denote the attraction of men to men.

Men Who Have Sex with Men – men, including those who do not identify themselves as homosexual or bisexual, who engage in sexual activity with other men (used in public health contexts to avoid excluding men who identify as heterosexual).

Openly Gay – Describes people who self-identify as lesbian or gay in their personal, public and/or professional lives. Also openly lesbian, openly bisexual, openly transgender.

Outing – The act of publicly declaring (sometimes based on rumor and/or speculation) or revealing another person’s sexual orientation or gender identity without that person’s consent. Considered inappropriate by a large portion of the LGBT community.

Pansexual – not limited in sexual choice with regard to biological sex, gender, or gender identity.

Pronouns – is a word that is used instead of a noun or noun phrase. Pronouns refer to either a noun that has already been mentioned or to a noun that does not need to be named specifically. Examples of pronouns include, but are not limited to: she/her, he/him, they/them, zi/hir.

Queer – Traditionally a pejorative term, queer has been appropriated by some LGBT people to describe themselves. However, it is not universally accepted even within the LGBT community and should be avoided unless someone self-identifies that way.

Questioning – The process of considering or exploring one’s sexual orientation and/or gender identity.

Sexual Orientation – The scientifically accurate term for an individual’s enduring physical, romantic and/or emotional attraction to members of the same and/or opposite sex, including lesbian, gay, bisexual and heterosexual (straight) orientations. Avoid the offensive term “sexual preference,” which is used to suggest that being gay or lesbian is voluntary and therefore “curable.”

Sexual Behavior – Refers to an individual’s sexual activities or actions (what a person does sexually). Though often an individual’s sexual orientation is in line with their sexual behavior, it is not always the case.

Sexual Minority – An all inclusive, politically oriented term referring to individuals who identify with a minority sexual orientation, sex identity, or gender expression/gender identity.

Sexual Preference – (see Offensive Terms to Avoid) This term refers to an individual’s choice in regards to attraction. Sexual preference can be based on gender/sex, physical appearance (height, weight, race, ethnicity), or emotional connection. It is important to note that sexual preference denotes a “choice” and has a negative connotation when used to describe the LGBTQ population.

Straight – Pop culture term used to refer to individuals who identify as a heterosexual, meaning having a sexual, emotional, physical and relational attraction to individuals of the “opposite” gender/sex. The term “straight” often has a negative connotation within the LGBTQ population, because it suggested that non heterosexual individuals are “crooked” or “unnatural”.

Transvestite – This term is often thought to be outdated, problematic, and generally offensive, since it was historically used to diagnose medical/mental health disorders.

Women Loving Women (WLW)  – Commonly used by communities of color to denote the attraction of women to women.

Zie & Hir – The most common spelling for gender neutral pronouns. Zie is subjective (replaces he or she) and Hir is possessive and objective (replaces his or her).

TRANSGENDER NAMES, PRONOUN USAGE & DESCRIPTIONS

Always use a transgender person’s chosen name. Often transgender people cannot afford a legal name change or are not yet old enough to change their name legally. They should be afforded the same respect for their chosen name as anyone else who lives by a name other than their birth name (e.g., celebrities).

Whenever possible, ask transgender people which pronoun they would like you to use. A person who identifies as a certain gender, whether or not that person has taken hormones or had some form of surgery, should be referred to using the pronouns appropriate for that gender.

If it is not possible to ask a transgender person which pronoun he or she prefers, use the pronoun that is consistent with the person’s appearance and gender expression. For example, if a person wears a dress and uses the name Susan, feminine pronouns are appropriate.

When describing transgender people, please use the correct term or terms to describe their gender identity. For example, a person who is born male and transitions to become female is a transgender woman, whereas a person who is born female and transitions to become male is a transgender man.

OFFENSIVE TERMS TO AVOID

Preferred: “gay” (adj.); “gay man” or “lesbian” (n.); “gay person/people” Please use “gay” or “lesbian” to describe people attracted to members of the same sex. Because of the clinical history of the word “homosexual,” it is aggressively used by anti-gay extremists to suggest that gay people are somehow diseased or psychologically/emotionally disordered – notions discredited by the American Psychological Association and the American Psychiatric Association in the 1970s.

Identifying a same-sex couple as “a homosexual couple,” characterizing their relationship as “a homosexual relationship,” or identifying their intimacy as “homosexual sex” is extremely offensive and should be avoided.

As a rule, try to avoid labeling an activity, emotion or relationship “gay,” “lesbian” or “bisexual” unless you would call the same activity, emotion or relationship “straight” if engaged in by someone of another orientation.

Preferred: “sexual orientation” or “orientation” The term “sexual preference” is typically used to suggest that being lesbian, gay or bisexual is a choice and therefore can and should be “cured.” Sexual orientation is the accurate description of an individual’s enduring physical, romantic and/or emotional attraction to members of the same and/or opposite sex and is inclusive of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and straight men and women.

Preferred: “gay lives,” “gay and lesbian lives” There is no single lesbian, gay or bisexual lifestyle. Lesbians, gay men and bisexuals are diverse in the ways they lead their lives. The phrase “gay lifestyle” is used to denigrate lesbians and gay men, suggesting that their orientation is a choice and therefore can and should be “cured.”

Preferred: “openly lesbian,” “openly gay,” “openly bisexual” Dated term used to describe those who are openly lesbian, gay or bisexual or who have recently come out of the closet. The words “admitted” or “avowed” suggest that being gay is somehow shameful or inherently secretive.

DEFAMATORY LANGUAGE

“fag,” “faggot,” “dyke,” “homo,” “sodomite,” “she-male,” “he-she,” “it,” “shim,” “tranny” and similar epithets The criteria for using these derogatory terms should be the same as those applied to vulgar epithets used to target other groups.

“deviant,” “disordered,” “dysfunctional,” “diseased,” “perverted,” “destructive” and similar descriptions The notion that being gay, lesbian or bisexual is a psychological disorder was discredited by the American Psychological Association and the American Psychiatric Association in the 1970s. Today, words such as “deviant,” “diseased” and “disordered” often are used to portray gay people as less than human, mentally ill, or as a danger to society

Associating gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people or relationships with pedophilia, child abuse, sexual abuse, bestiality, bigamy, polygamy, adultery and/or incest Being gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender is neither synonymous with nor indicative of any ten­dency toward pedophilia, child abuse, sexual abuse, bestiality, bigamy, polygamy, adultery and/or incest. Such claims, innuendoes and associations often are used to insinuate that lesbians and gay men pose a threat to society, to families, and to children in particular.

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‘They Just Feel That They’ve Been Violated’

Still, the idea that straight men like it when two women make out (and more!) is so commonplace that it’s a cultural touchstone. They don’t even have to be real lesbians: “Those twins” are among the things a canonical Coors Light drinker loves. On Friends, Chandler and Joey give up their apartment—their apartment in Manhattan—for the chance to watch two of their straight female friends kiss for one minute.

So what is it about the sight of two women that, purportedly, sets male loins ablaze?

First of all, lesbian porn does not rank as highly among male sexual interests as do, “breasts, butts, MILFs, amateurs,” and even women with penises, according to the research of Ogi Ogas, a neuroscientist and co-author of For the book, he and co-author Sai Gaddam analyzed millions of searches, erotic stories, videos, personal ads and other data to find out exactly what makes humans tick down there.

But to the extent that lesbian erotica is popular, it can be explained by the fact that men are most aroused by visual cues that emphasize youth and downplay drama and emotional complexity. Lesbian porn, therefore, works for straight men by “doubling up” those visual stimuli, Ogas explained. The only thing better than one nubile, personality-free woman is two of them.

I pointed out to Ogas that this is a rather irrational desire: Lesbians are the only group of women who will categorically never be interested in a straight man. This is like someone named Steve entering a lottery called “Mega Millions for Anybody But Steve.” It’s not going to happen, Steve!

“It’s amusing that you offer up the fact that lesbians will never be interested in men as a possible reason why men should not be aroused by them,” he said. “Sexual fantasy obeys its own set of rules that have nothing to do with propriety, common sense, or even the physical laws of the universe. Women, for instance, are often aroused by billionaires and celebrities who are extremely unlikely to reciprocate the sentiment.”

(I maintain that Oscar Isaac is going to come around any day now.)

Ogas says that when it comes to fantasy, it gets even weirder than being into people who aren’t into you. “Many people nurse erotic fantasies of shrinking to the size of a mouse or being transformed into a furry bunny,” he said.

Interestingly, the reverse—loving gay male porn—is not quite true for women. At least, not in the same way. Unlike most men, Ogas says, most gay and straight women have an emotional, narrative component to their erotic fantasies. Straight women may have enjoyed Brokeback Mountain, but it was probably for the story.

Michael Bailey, a psychology professor at Northwestern University who has studied arousal, said when they’re asked by researchers, women say they don’t get turned on by sex scenes featuring two men. However, when researchers measure their levels of genital arousal, women seem to equally enjoy erotica featuring two women, two men, or a heterosexual couple.

“Their genitals get aroused, but that’s not necessarily what they feel in their heads,” Bailey explained.

Meanwhile, most straight men don’t get aroused—genitally or intellectually—by anything other than women. The reason, Bailey speculates, is that it wasn’t evolutionary advantageous for women to be as sensitive to visual stimuli as men are, since we face pressure to pick the one guy who is going to invest a lot of resources in our offspring, and looks alone aren’t the best way to judge that. We’re looking for an officer and a gentleman, so we can’t be distracted by, ahem, Any Orificer and a Genitalman.

And all of this doesn’t mean that real straight men are romantically attracted to real lesbians. “Very few men visit websites containing erotica featuring actual lesbians that is targeted at actual lesbians,” Ogas said.

It’s all just what Ogas calls an “erotic illusion”—images that trick our sexual circuits just like that “vase or two faces” thing tricks our optical circuits. Straight men don’t actually want to date a lesbian, just like young women don’t actually want to date a vampiresadomasochistic recluse. We keep those thoughts between ourselves and the computer keyboard—and the all-seeing eye of Big Data, naturally.

General terminology

Gender Identity – One’s internal, personal sense of being a man or a woman (or a boy or a girl). For transgender people, their birth-assigned sex and their own internal sense of gender identity do not match.

Gender Expression – External manifestation of one’s gender identity, usually expressed through “masculine,” “feminine” or gender-variant behavior, clothing, haircut, voice or body characteristics. Typically, transgender people seek to make their gender expression match their gender identity, rather than their birth-assigned sex.

Sex – The classification of people as male or female. At birth, infants are assigned a sex based on a combination of bodily characteristics including: chromosomes, hormones, internal reproductive organs, and genitals.

Sexual Orientation – Describes an individual’s enduring physical, romantic and/or emotional attraction to another person. Gender identity and sexual orientation are not the same. Transgender people may be straight, lesbian, gay or bisexual. For example, a man who transitions from male to female and is attracted to other women would be identified as a lesbian or a gay woman.

transgender-specific terminology

Cross-Dressing – To occasionally wear clothes traditionally associated with people of the other sex. Cross-dressers are usually comfortable with the sex they were assigned at birth and do not wish to change it. “Cross-dresser” should NOT be used to describe someone who has transitioned to live full-time as the other sex or who intends to do so in the future. Cross-dressing is a form of gender expression and is not necessarily tied to erotic activity. Cross-dressing is not indicative of sexual orientation.

Gender Identity Disorder (GID) – A controversial DSM-IV diagnosis given to transgender and other gender-variant people. Because it labels people as “disordered,” Gender Identity Disorder is often considered offensive. The diagnosis is frequently given to children who don’t conform to expected gender norms in terms of dress, play or behavior. Such children are often subjected to intense psychotherapy, behavior modification and/or institutionalization. Replaces the outdated term “gender dysphoria.”

Intersex – Describing a person whose biological sex is ambiguous. There are many genetic, hormonal or anatomical variations that make a person’s sex ambiguous (e.g., Klinefelter Syndrome). Parents and medical profession­als usually assign intersex infants a sex and perform surgical operations to conform the infant’s body to that assignment. This practice has become increasingly controversial as intersex adults speak out against the practice. The term intersex is not interchangeable with or a synonym for transgender.

Sex Reassignment Surgery (SRS) – Refers to surgical alteration, and is only one small part of transition (see Transition above). Preferred term to “sex change operation.” Not all transgender people choose to or can afford to have SRS.

Transgender – An umbrella term (adj.) for people whose gender identity and/or gender expression differs from the sex they were assigned at birth. The term may include but is not limited to: transsexuals, cross-dressers and other gender-variant people. Transgender people may identify as female-to-male (FTM) or male-to-female (MTF). Use the descriptive term (transgender, transsexual, cross-dresser, FTM or MTF) preferred by the individual. Transgender people may or may not decide to alter their bodies hormonally and/or surgically.

Transition – Altering one’s birth sex is not a one-step process; it is a complex process that occurs over a long period of time. Transition includes some or all of the follow­ing personal, legal and medical adjustments: telling one’s family, friends and/or co-workers; changing one’s name and/or sex on legal documents; hormone therapy; and possibly (though not always) one or more forms of surgery.

Transsexual (also Transexual) – An older term which originated in the medical and psychological communities. While some transsexual people still prefer to use the term to describe them­selves, many transgender people prefer the term transgender to transsexual. Unlike transgender, transsexual is not an umbrella term, as many transgender people do not identify as transsexual. It is best to ask which term an indi­vidual prefers.

PROBLEMATIC TERMS

Transgender should be used as an adjective, not as a noun. Do not say, “Tony is a transgender,” or “The parade included many transgenders.” Instead say, “Tony is a transgender man,” or “The parade included many transgender people.”

Preferred: “transgender” The adjective transgender should never have an extraneous “-ed” tacked onto the end. An “-ed” suffix adds unnecessary length to the word and can cause tense confusion and grammatical errors. For example, it is grammatically incorrect to turn transgender into a participle, as it is an adjective, not a verb, and only verbs can be used as participles by adding an “-ed” suffix.

Preferred: “transition” Referring to a sex change operation, or using terms such as pre- or post-operative, inaccurately suggests that one must have surgery in order to transition. Avoid overemphasizing surgery when discussing transgender people or the process of transition.

DEFAMATORY TERMS

Defamatory: “deceptive,” “fooling,” “pretending,” “posing” or “masquerading” Gender identity is an integral part of a person’s identity. Do not characterize transgender people as “deceptive,” as “fooling” other people, or as “pretending” to be, “posing” or “masquerading” as a man or a woman. Such descriptions are defamatory and insulting.

Defamatory: “she-male,” “he-she,” “it,” “trannie,” “tranny,” “shim,” “gender-bender” These words only serve to dehumanize transgender people and should not be used.

Defamatory: “bathroom bill” A new term created and used by far-right extremists to oppose non-discrimination laws that protect transgender people.