Mod­ern Life What is LGBTQQIAAP2S? by David Jenk­ins


SEX­UAL in­clu­siv­ity’s a fine thing, and one can only be de­lighted that Jilly Cooper’s go­ing to write a les­bian sex scene on the grounds that ‘there seems to be a lot of it about’. But how­ever au courant they may be with gen­der align­ments, most Oldie read­ers are prob­a­bly un­able en­tirely to parse the eroge­nous al­pha­bet soup that is LGBTQQIAAP2S – a set of let­ters that’s in­creas­ingly used to con­vey sex­ual iden­ti­fi­ca­tion. The ab­bre­vi­a­tion LGBT may seem good enough for them, and in­deed last April Pres­i­dent Obama ap­pointed the splen­didly named Randy Berry as the first-ever US (and in­deed world) spe­cial en­voy for the hu­man rights of les­bian, gay, bi­sex­ual and trans­gen­der per­sons.

By Septem­ber, though, Mr Berry, a fifty-year-old ca­reer diplo­mat who was lat­terly con­sul gen­eral in Am­s­ter­dam and is mar­ried to a man he met while serv­ing in South Africa, was ad­dress­ing a fo­rum at Chatham House as the US Spe­cial En­voy for LGBTI rights. The let­ters are on the march and it might be as well to com­pre­hend them. Trans­gen­der, for one, can be a slip­pery con­cept: Cait­lyn Jen­ner, the former Olympic de­cathlon cham­pion and one-time step­fa­ther of Kim Kar­dashian, now has breasts and has had her Adam’s ap­ple seen to, but she still has a pe­nis and tes­ti­cles; she is, as it’s known, ‘tran­si­tion­ing’.

I, though, is for in­ter­sex, the con­di­tion of those born ‘into bod­ies that are

not defini­tively male or fe­male, in­clud­ing those born with am­bigu­ous gen­i­talia’, as Gay­ex­ puts it. Dawn Lan­g­ley Sim­mons was one such: born with an en­gorged cli­toris on the Siss­inghurst es­tate in 1922 and clas­si­fied by the doc­tor as male, he/she lived a mis­er­able child­hood, be­came the adop­tive son of Mar­garet Ruther­ford, was taken up by Is­abella Whit­ney and made her heir, had a sex change, mar­ried a black man in South Car­olina when such things were vi­o­lently frowned upon, lost her money, be­friended the young Mike Tyson and ended up writ­ing for the Sun­day

Tele­graph. All very mou­ve­menté, but her le­gal sta­tus was never clear. In 2014, though, In­dia’s Supreme Court ruled that hi­jras – those born male or in­ter­sex who lead lives as women or some­thing more am­biva­lent – have le­gal sta­tus: bu­reau­cratic forms now boast tick boxes la­belled M, F and O for Other.

It’s with the Qs that eyes be­gin to roll. One Q is for ques­tion­ing, as many un­sure of their tastes are; it’s also for Queer, as in rad­i­cal ho­mo­sex­u­als who want to em­brace the term, just as the rap band Niggaz With At­ti­tude did for the word ‘nig­ger’. Closer to home, Wad­ham Col­lege, Ox­ford, has its Queer­week, cul­mi­nat­ing in Queer­fest, a frol­ic­some party that’s one of the high­lights of the univer­sity’s so­cial scene. This is stretch­ing gen­der as­sign­ment to the limit, and even more so are the two As: asex­ual, as we all thought Ed­ward Heath to be, and al­lies, which is any­one sup­port­ive of the LGBTI com­mu­nity. P is more ac­tion-packed, stand­ing for pol­y­sex­ual, which means be­ing open to any form of sex­u­al­ity to which Cupid’s bow might point you – i.e., not just bi­sex­u­al­ity but also T and I. I’ve read no men­tion of bes­tial­ity, but who knows?

Ex­haust­ing, but not ex­haus­tive: 2S has now been added to the mix – stand­ing for two-spirit, a term em­ployed by Na­tive Amer­i­cans who be­lieve their body man­i­fests both a mas­cu­line and a fem­i­nine spirit; a lead­ing light is Kent Monkman, who has a drag queen al­ter ego he calls Miss Chief Ea­gle Te­stickle [sic]. So LGBTQQIAAP2S it is – and quite a mouth­ful, as Ken­neth Wil­liams might have put it.

I is for in­ter­sex, the con­di­tion of those born ‘into bod­ies not defini­tively male or fe­male’

Dawn Lan­g­ley Sim­mons, right, in 1971

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