FAQs on LGBTIQ issues

If you’re working with, parenting, going to school with, caring for, or otherwise interacting with anyone from the LGBTIQ+ community, you might have questions but not know where to find the answers. Reading through the rest of the information in this section might be useful – particularly the terminology page – but the FAQs below have been developed for you.

There is also a resource we’ve developed to support trans employees, their employers, and colleagues. Trans @ Work contains info and guidance on issues associated with transitioning at work. It includes tips on working together to achieve a successful transition in the workplace and on how to provide ongoing support to trans employees. In addition, we offer training for workplaces on gender identity and discrimination, to provide additional support for businesses and organisations with trans employees.

Download our Trans @ Work resource. (PDF File, 18.0 MB)

There are so many words and terms used to talk about LBGTIQ issues now. How do I know what the right one is?

Using the right words is important. We’ve put together a list of LGBTIQ+ terminology and definitions to make it easier.

Check our list of LGBTIQ+  terms and definitions

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What is sexual orientation? Should I use the term sexual orientation or sexual preference?

Sexual orientation means a person's romantic and emotional attraction and attachment towards other people. Heterosexual (or straight) people are attracted to the opposite sex. Gay and lesbian people are attracted to those of the same sex, bisexual people are attracted to both men and women. Sexual preference is no longer an accepted term, because it presumes that there is a choice in a person's sexuality, whereas sexual orientation acknowledges that it is an inherent characteristic of a person.

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What can I do if I find homophobic things written online?

It may be vilification if the words used are serious enough to be capable of inciting hatred, contempt, or severe ridicule of someone (or a group of people) based on their sexuality or gender identity. It would only be vilification under the Anti-Discrimination Act if the words are written in a public forum (rather than a private message or email), for example, on a social media page or publicly accessible website.

The first thing to do is to report the post to Facebook, or the relevant website administrator so that they can remove it. You may also consider making a complaint to the Anti-Discrimination Commission Queensland if you’re able to under the Act.

Find out more about vilification

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I know that a member of my work team is gay, but not everyone else knows. Is it okay to tell other people?

Not everyone is comfortable with discussing their sexuality at work. If the person discloses their sexuality to you in confidence, it is a major breach of trust to out them to others without their consent. If you are not sure whether it's confidential, it's okay to ask them.

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Can sexual harassment happen between members of the same sex?

Yes. Sexual harassment can occur between all genders: males and females, females and females, or males and males. The sexuality of the people involved is not relevant, as sexual harassment is about unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature in relation to you.

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What is gender identity?

Gender identity is a person's sense of maleness or femaleness, and is on a spectrum.

The Anti-Discrimination Act makes discrimination on the basis of gender identity unlawful. The Act’s definition says:

gender identity, in relation to a person, means that the person —

  1. identifies, or has identified, as a member of the opposite sex by living or seeking to live as a member of that sex; or
  2. is of indeterminate sex and seeks to live as a member of a particular sex.

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Can I ask a trans person a question about their biological changes, such as hormone treatment and surgery?

No, it is generally impolite to ask, unless the person volunteers this information. Ask yourself whether you really need to know this information. Would you ask a person who is not trans questions about their biology or medical treatments?

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What name and pronouns should I use with a trans person?

You should ask the person which pronoun (he, she, they) they would like you to use. If you do make a mistake, apologise, and get it right next time. If a trans person is repeatedly and intentionally called by the wrong pronoun, or is being called by their previous name, then it may be discrimination. Bear in mind that there are sometimes legal barriers to changing name.

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What toilets can a trans person use?

A trans person can use the toilet that reflects their affirmed gender, in other words, the gender that they are living as, or seeking to live as. A trans person may prefer to use a unisex or accessible toilet, but should not be required to use the unisex or accessible toilet. Telling a person that they must use a toilet that does not reflect their gender identity may be discrimination.

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Is a pre-operative trans person covered by the Anti-Discrimination Act 1991 (Qld)?

Yes. The definition of gender identity refers to a person who identifies, or has identified, as a member of the opposite sex by living or seeking to live as a member of that sex. It is irrelevant whether that person has started or whether they intend to start making changes to their biological sex through surgery or by taking hormones.

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Does a trans person need to change their birth certificate to their affirmed gender or change their name to be covered by the Anti-Discrimination Act 1991 (Qld)?

No. The person needs only to identify, or has previously identified, as a member of the opposite sex by living or seeking to live as a member of that sex to be covered by the Act's definition of gender identity.

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Are trans jokes okay in the workplace?

Jokes can be discriminatory and can cause unintentional harm. A person transitioning is going through a major, stressful life change, and may be understandably sensitive to jokes and certain topics, such as anatomy.

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Are trans people heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, or asexual?

They may be any of the above. Gender identity has nothing to do with sexual orientation.

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Is a gender transition like flicking a switch?

Generally not; it's a process. The person may experiment with finding themself. Their style of dress, level of expression of masculinity or femininity may change as time goes on. Sometimes, if the person is taking hormones, they may be subject to mood swings.

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Are intersex people gay or lesbian, or queer?

It depends on the individual, how they define their gender and identity, how they present, and who they form relationships with. Every intersex person is different. Some people with intersex variations are LGB (lesbian, gay, bisexual) or queer, and some are heterosexual.

Intersex people share common goals with the LGBT movement, because they also fall outside of expected sex and gender norms. Intersex is part of the LGBTI acronym because of intersex status and a shared experience of stigma, not because of sexual orientation or gender identity.

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Are intersex people transgender or gender diverse?

The gender identities of intersex people frequently match the genders assigned at birth, and sometimes they may be freely chosen. Some people who have chosen their gender may identify as transgender or gender diverse.

Intersex bodies have diverse physical sex characteristics; many intersex people have an experience of involuntary medical treatment to impose stereotypical sex characteristics, or are at risk of this. This makes descriptions of intersex people ascis or cisgender problematic.

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Do intersex people have health issues?

Like all people, people with intersex variations have health issues. In a few diagnoses, immediate medical attention is needed from birth, but being intersex is not a health issue in and of itself. Natural intersex bodies are most often healthy.

Intersex people frequently need hormone replacement. This may be due to medical intervention.

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