LGBTQI - An Introduction

On this website you will find a thematic overview on different genders and sexual orientations from a psychological point of view.

We take a look at:

  • gender and sex that is socially assigned based on physical characteristics.
  • gender identity
  • gender roles
  • sexual orientation

In our definitions we try to use a language in tune with the latest development both in psychological care-work and in lgbtqi emancipation. But discourses are always shifting, always changing. Words that were acceptable yesterday may not be acceptable today anymore.

Furthermore, individually people often employ their own terms that may not be in line with the preferences of the majority. Some trans women may, for example, describe themselves as "tranny" or as "shemale", even though these terms are perceived as insulting by most trans women.

It is not always easy to use the "right" vocabulary and we all fail at that at times. What is important is that we always remain open to learn and that we listen. We should call people by the words and terms that they want to be called by and not impose our own ideas on them.

Which gender constructions are there outside of the classic cisgender man/woman?

Authors: Isabelle Melcher & Kai Jannik

Contrary to the widespread misconception in our society that gender is binary, i.e. that it only includes being a man or woman as possible options, gender is actually a diverse spectrum. On the physical level alone, gender characteristics differ from person to person and cannot be meaningfully reflected under just two categories. This is particularly evident in the case of intersex people, for whom the option of a third positive gender now exists when declaring their gender for official purposes. 

Here we look at conceptual explanations of gender assigned on the basis of physical characteristics.

Gender identity also includes social aspects, as well as knowledge of one’s own gender. It can change over the course of life, or also change situationally or temporarily. The perception of oneself and others has a role to play here, as well as deciding which aspects should be shown to the outside world, and when and how. 

Here we look at conceptual explanations of gender (-identity and -roles)

People perceive gender differently and define themselves according to this view. Some find themselves on a continuum between male and female – at one of the poles, in between them, or completely outside of them. In this way, one’s own gender can be perceived in a number of ways: as a fixed point, moving back and forth in the presence of several genders at the same time, or also as something movable or fluid. Terms such as “gender fluid”, “gender queer” or “bigender” are used to describe this. The term “non-binary” is often used as an umbrella term for these identities. “Agender” is the term used by those who cannot identify with any gender. All these terms are only approximations designed to ease communication – they are absolutely not to be considered as definitions, as it is up to each person to define themselves in this spectrum of possibilities.

Which sexual orientations are there?

Authors: Leyla Jagiella & M. Albarzawi

The term sexual orientation refers to not only to whom you are sexually attracted to but it may also refer to whom you would like to have an emotional connection or relationships with.  This can include gay, lesbian, straight, bisexual, asexual and other forms of attraction.


Homosexuality refers to sexual and/or romantic attraction to members of your own sex and gender. Homosexual men often prefer to call themselves gay, homosexual women often prefer to call themselves lesbian


Heterosexuality is sexual and/or romantic attraction to a  member of the opposit sex and gender. A man who is exclusively attracted to women, a woman who is exclusively attracted to men. Heterosexual people are often also refered to as "straight".


This is romantic attraction, sexual attraction, or sexual activity aimed at both men and women, or at more than one sex or gender. It may also be defined as romantic or sexual attraction to people of any sex or gender identity. For the latter we often also find the term "pansexuality".


Asexuality is a sexual orientation just as homosexuality, heterosexuality or bisexuality. However, asexuality is mostly only expressed as a romantic or emotional interest. People defining themselves as "asexual" have no or only very desire for sexual contact.  

Sexual orientation and Gender identity:

A trans man or trans woman can also be heterosexual or homosexual , the same way like a cis man or a cis woman. For example: A trans woman is a woman with a female sexual orientation no matter if she had had gender reassignment surgery or not. If she is sexually attracted  to men then she is heterosexual, if she is attracted to women then she is lesbian.


The word queer has several meanings. It can be used as a short word characterizing the whole lgbtqi* community, or it can also be used in a more specific way. Many people identify specifically as "queer" because they don`t want to be boxed into any specific lgbt identity. Some people also use it to signify that they are questioning or exploring their sexuality and/or gender identity.

Important Questions when Coming out


Last updated: 05/03/2021 - 13:06

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