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Inclusive Language FAQS


Q: I’ve never heard some of these words. What do they all mean?
A: Changes can sometimes be confusing and definitions are shifting all the time. It’s okay that some of the terms are new, we’re all learning together and the important thing is that all our members feel welcome and comfortable. Keep in mind that sexual orientation labels are personal and can mean different things to different people, but here are some general definitions, most taken from the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) website. (The full glossary can be found here: https://www.hrc.org/resources/glossary-of-terms)

            Asexual- a person who doesn’t experience sexual attraction. Please note- many asexual individuals have romantic or emotional attractions without sexual attraction and thus identify as lesbian, homoromantic, biromantic, or panromantic. Asexuality is a spectrum that includes demisexual and graysexual/greyasexual individuals.

            Bisexual- a person emotionally, romantically, or sexually attracted to more than one sex, gender, or gender identity

            Lesbian- a woman who is emotionally, romantically, or sexually attracted to other women

            Nonbinary- an adjective describing a person who does not identify exclusively as a man or a woman. Nonbinary people may identify as being both a man and a woman, somewhere in between, or as falling completely outside these categories. 

            Pansexual- someone who has the potential for emotional, romantic, or sexual attraction to people of any gender

            Two Spirit- refers to a person who identifies as having both a masculine and feminine spirit, and is used by some Indigenous people to describe their sexual orientation, gender identity, and/or spiritual identity

            Queer- a term often used to express a spectrum of identities and orientations that are counter to the mainstream. Please note- this term was previously used as a slur, but has been reclaimed by parts of the LGBTQ movement. Some LGBTQ people are still not comfortable with this term and, while one can use any label in reference to themselves, it should be used with caution when referring to someone else.

            Sapphic- women or female-aligned individuals who feel romantic or sexual attraction to other women or female-aligned individuals. This is often used as an umbrella term to include lesbian, bisexual, pansexual, and queer women along with female-aligned nonbinary people.

Q: Why did you have to change the language? What’s wrong with lesbian-oriented?
A: Lesbian-oriented doesn’t include all women who love women and sapphic folks. A bisexual woman who is in a relationship with a lesbian remains bisexual, so she wouldn’t be included in “lesbian-oriented”. Our mission is to embrace and celebrate the literature of women who love women, and that includes all women who love women, not only lesbians.

Q: Is this lesbian erasure?
A: Absolutely not. Lesbians are important members of our community and we were purposeful in including the word lesbian in our list of included identities. We have not taken a seat away from lesbians, we have merely added more seats at the table.

Q: Why are you including nonbinary people? If they aren’t women, why are they included in an organization about women who love women?
A: The nonbinary identity is nuanced and different for everyone, and this includes nonbinary characters in literature. Some nonbinary people sometimes identify as women, and for that reason as well as others, many nonbinary people identify as sapphic or even lesbian. The characters who identify in this way would be included in our literature. To be clear, if a nonbinary person does not identify in this way, their stories would not be eligible for a Goldie. 

Q: I’m not sure if my book would be eligible under the new guidelines. How can I be sure?
A: You can always contact our Awards Administrators with questions about eligibility.

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