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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Carrollton Rainbow understands that we all have questions about identities, orientations and many other topics.  Below are some frequently asked questions that might help answer some of the questions you may already have.  Please continue to explore the website as it might help answer questions you have that are not listed below. 

  • How are sexual orientation and gender identity determined?
    There is no consensus among scientists about the exact reasons that an individual develops a sexual orientation. Experts agree that all aspects of sexuality are due to a combination of genetic, biological, psychological and social factors. For most people, sexual orientation and gender identity are shaped at any early age. While research has not determined a cause, homosexuality and gender variance are not the result of any one factor, such as parenting or past experiences. Most people experience little or no sense of choice about their sexual orientation.
  • How does someone know they are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender?
    Some people say that they have "felt different" or knew they were attracted to people of the same sex from the time they were very young. Some transgender people talk about feeling from an early age that their gender identity did not match parental and social expectations. Others do not discover their sexual orientation or gender identity until they are adolescents or adults, or people's feelings may change over time. With better understandings of LGBTQIA+ people and more diversity and inclusion in different parts of the world, it is becoming easier for people to identify their feelings.
  • What’s the difference between sex and gender?
    Typically, people use “sex” to refer to a person's assigned sex at birth based upon physical anatomy and chromosomes. “Gender” is typically used to refer to roles, appearance, interests, and one’s psychological sense of themselves as a gendered being. Historically, a distinction has been made between sex and gender centered on the ways in which gender is socially constructed around a designation that has been presumed to be ‘objective’ and not socially constructed. When you look closer at the realities that assigned sex at birth (i.e., sex) is socially constructed based on what is considered to be ‘normative’ anatomical and chromosomal characteristics (consider the frequency of intersex conditions; estimated at 1 in 2000), some are now calling into question this rigid distinction between ‘sex’ and ‘gender’. “Gender identity” is the gender an individual identifies as psychologically, regardless of the sex/gender they were assigned at birth. “Gender expression” is how someone expresses their gender through appearance, behavior, or mannerisms. A person’s gender expression may or may not be analogous to their gender identity, and a person’s biological sex may or may not be analogous to their gender identity or gender expression.
  • What does is mean to be transgender?
    Transgender is an umbrella term for individuals whose gender identity is different from the one assigned to them at birth. Transgender individuals may identify as women, men, neither, both, or something else entirely. Some common identities under this umbrella include genderqueer, gender non-conforming, non-binary, agender, Two-Spirit (used by some indigenous Native American communities), trans woman, and trans man. Often, transgender will be shortened to trans.
  • How do I know what pronoun to use if I’m unsure?
    We recommend asking respectfully rather than guessing. You could say, “I want to be respectful. What gender pronoun do you use?" It is very important to respect each person’s self-identification. Individuals may use female pronouns, male pronouns, gender-neutral pronouns such as ze or hir, or a mix of pronouns. Never use the word "it" when referring to someone.
  • If someone uses They/Them pronouns, isn't that grammatically incorrect?
    In English, we already use singular “they” all the time when the gender of a person is unknown. Say you see 50 bucks on the ground and pick it up. You might say: “Oh, someone dropped their money here. I’ll set it aside for them, I bet they are looking everywhere!” Using gendered pronouns in this situation is awkward and clunky; after all, you wouldn’t say: “Oh, someone dropped his or her money here. I’ll set it aside for him or her, I bet he or she is looking everywhere!” So, we use the singular “they” instead. When someone uses they/them pronouns, all you have to do is apply that same sentence construction: “Oh, Desmond dropped their money here. I’ll set it aside for them, I bet they are looking everywhere!” Major dictionaries have recognized the singular “they” as grammatically correct for years, including the Oxford English Dictionary, Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary, and The AP Style Guide even allows the usage of singular “they” in cases where a subject doesn’t identify as male or female.
  • What Does the Full LGBTQQIP2SAA Acronym Stand For?
    LGBTQQIP2SAA is an acronym that stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex, pansexual, two-spirit (2S), androgynous, and asexual. LGBTQ+ or LGBTQIA+ are commonly used interchangibly with queer because there is no one monolithic "LGBTQIA+ community”. Everyone has multiple, intersecting identities (e.g., racial/ethnic identity, gender identity, ability status, educational background, income level, faith or religious affiliation, national origin). There are commonalities of experience among people who are marginalized based on actual or presumed sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression but to ignore the diversity of lived experience due to these intersecting identities feels disrespectful and is inaccurate.
  • Why is the rainbow flag a gay symbol?
    In 1978 Gilbert Baker proposed the idea of a rainbow flag to the San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Parade in response to their request for a symbol that could be used every year. Today, the rainbow flag continues to be a symbol for the colorful diversity, optimism, and strength of LGBTQ+ movements worldwide.
  • Isn't the word "queer" an insult? How can using "queer" be a sign of pride?
    The word queer has often used been as an insult. Many people in the community have decided to reclaim the word to take away others' power to hurt them. It is also useful as a word that encompasses all identities under the LGBTQIA+ umbrella or to note a political identity. However, you should only call someone queer if they have indicated that they are okay with that word being used for themselves.
  • How can I reconcile my or my loved one's sexual orientation with my faith?
    This is a difficult question for many people. Learning that a loved one is LGBTQ+ can be a challenge if you feel it is at odds with your faith tradition. However, being LGBTQ+ does not impact a person's ability to be moral and spiritual any more than being cisgender/heterosexual does. Many LGBTQ+ people are religious and active in their own faith communities. It is up to you to explore, question and make choices in order to reconcile religion with homosexuality and gender variance. For some this means working for change within their faith community, and for others it means leaving it.
  • I’m straight and/or cisgender. Is it really ok to speak up for a group that I am not a part of?
    Not only is it ok, but your support is welcome and very much needed. The unique “outsider” voice of allies is powerful and carries credibility. It can help draw attention to and raise awareness about the issues that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) people face each day. Speaking up and acknowledging, through words and actions, that all individuals deserve to be respected and treated fairly makes other people take notice and gives them the confidence to follow your lead.
  • How can I be a good ally to members of the LGBTQI+ community?
    Those who wants to help reduce prejudice and discrimination against LGBTQI+ people can examine their own responses to antigay stereotypes and prejudice. They can make a point of coming to know queer people personally, and they can work with queer-identifying individuals and communities to combat prejudice and discrimination. Heterosexual/cisgender people can advocate for LGBTQI+ rights and issues by asking others to consider the prejudicial or discriminatory nature of their beliefs and actions; they can also encourage nondiscrimination policies in schools and workplaces. When allies help make it safe for LGBTQI+ people to be open about who they are, more people have a chance to have personal contact with openly queer people and to perceive them as individuals.
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