LGBT or GLBT is a short acronym for lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, and trans. In popular use since the late 1990s, the acronym has been an adaptation of the original term, LGB, that started to replace the word gay as well as the wider lesbian community starting in the mid to late 1990s. The two words lesbian and gay are now used interchangeably. Some people describe lesbian relationships as being a way of life. Not all lesbian relationships fit this definition.
Most lesbian couples share a deep and personal connection that transcends gender identity, although gender identification is not a necessary component of their relationship. Some lesbian couples have a strong bonding based on sexual attraction, while some are attracted to each other based on a shared emotional connection. Transgender and gender identity issues are different than those relating to GLBT. For instance, when someone has a strong emotional bond with another person, that person is considered a transgender and that person might be seeking a sexual orientation other than the one they identify with.
While many states still have laws prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation, many schools, businesses, and governments have policies and practices that do allow gender identity or gender expression. The question now is whether these same policies will apply to GLBT individuals, as well as to transgender and bisexual people. GLBT refers to the acronym for “gay/lesbian/bisexual.”
It’s possible that the term gender identity or gender expression will be accepted into the acronym for gay and lesbian in the future. Right now, cisgendered (non-transgendered) individuals are able to use the words gay or lesbian in order to describe their sexuality. However, some cisgenders (individuals who are born with the male, female, or intersex characteristics) still experience severe discrimination when it comes to their sexual orientation or gender identity. Some have been fired from their jobs or excluded from classes because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Others have been threatened with violence for simply expressing their sexual orientation or gender identity. This has caused an increased number of GLBT people to seek out resources online to find support.
Being attracted to the same sex or being a lesbian may be similar to being transgendered. In both situations, the individual is concerned about societal discrimination or the feeling of being erased for having sexual attraction or gender identification that does not fit with the sex or gender chosen. Both of these groups are harassed and often suffer from verbal, physical, and emotional abuse.
Some GLBT people, like those who are attracted to the same gender, experience gender dysphoria. The term gender dysphoria refers to the persistent perception of having a certain gender identity even though one is biologically the opposite. Some people feel as if they are not fully accepted for who they are. They may feel uncomfortable in traditionally Acceptable Behavior (condom use, vasectomy, etc. ), and sometimes even physically aggressive or abusive. They may also try to change physical attributes so that they fit more appropriately to the gender they are attracted to, such as using makeup, clothing, or shaving their armpits.
Those who identify as homosexual or bisexual can experience increased risks for HIV infection, especially if they engage in anal intercourse or have multiple sex partners. The highest reported rates of HIV among GLBT people are in the 15-to-married age group; however, they do not necessarily share this same risk of HIV infection when compared with the population at large. It is also believed that GLBT women are less likely to practice safe sex, such as having fewer partners or engaging in passive sex (without being sexually aroused). Men who have sex with other men but identify as bisexual are more likely to report having multiple sex partners than other men; however, they are still significantly less likely to be diagnosed with HIV.
More research is needed to understand the causes of higher rates of transmission of HIV/AIDS in the GLBT community. The issue of sexual orientation and gender identity should become more prevalent studies in the field of STD and health care ethics. Stigma and discrimination continue to be major problems for the GLBT community. More studies should be done to determine why there is a greater risk for sexually transmitted diseases for the GLBT community and how best to address the issues.