What’s in a word?

What does “queer” mean?

In an effort to bring together sexually and gender diverse communities, the word “queer’ is a non-exhaustive umbrella term for all experiences outside of a cis-heteronormative experience of gender and sexuality. “Queer” is a reclaimed word that is defined as “rare” or “deviating from the expected or normal.” “Queer” was primarily used as a derogatory slang term against homosexuals in the 19th and 20th centuries, and has been used with pride since the 1980’s.

A reclaimed word is a word that was formerly used as a slur but that has been proudly and defiantly claimed back in its original meaning by members of the maligned group. “Queer” is an example of a word undergoing this process. Reclaimed words can be offensive to the in-group when used by outsiders, so be considerate and ask questions concerning the use of a reclaimed word if you are not a member of the group that uses it. For example, not all people who fall under the umbrella of queer embrace the reclamation of the word and prefer to identify within a more specific category (ie: gay, lesbian, trans, bi, Two-Spirit).

We recognize that not everybody is comfortable with the use of queer, nor does it capture perfectly the diversity of our community. That being said, we have chosen to employ this “term” as an imperfect means to talk about the community in broad terms.

Queer includes gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, Two-Spirit, asexual, demi-romantic, pansexual, intersex, androgynous, genderqueer, genderfluid, gender creative, gender non-conforming, and polyamorous identities.

What does “trans” mean?

CampOUT! uses the term trans to be inclusive of people who overlap (or move beyond) rigid gender definitions and the gender binary.  Trans/transgender can also include people whose gender identity does not match their assigned sex at birth.  Trans does not imply a sexual orientation and some trans folks do not identify as queer. Gender non-conforming describes people whose gender expression differs from stereotypical expectations based on their perceived gender.

CampOUT! uses the term “trans” to be inclusive of transgender, transsexual, Two-Spirit, trans-identified, non-binary, intersex, androgynous, bi-gender, crossdressing, genderqueer, genderfluid, and gender creative folks.

What does “Two-Spirit” mean?

Two-Spirit is an umbrella self-descriptor used by some Indigenous folks who have been given the gift of gender fluidity and the ability to cross gender roles for social, spiritual or other culturally specific practices by the Creator. The term asserts the interconnectedness of gender, race, sexuality, spirituality, culture, and community. It is not appropriate to use this term if you are not indigenous.  (Adapted from http://www.outsaskatoon.ca/queer_terms)

What does an “ally” mean?

Allies may identify as straight/heterosexual and/or cisgender (people who do not identify with a gender diverse experience). They are identified as allies by queer and trans communities because of their ongoing commitment to challenging homophobia and cissexism. At CampOUT! we strive to provide opportunities for folks engage with allyship across all axes of diversity (such as gender, race, sexuality, class, ability, religion, and experience).

So if CampOUT! is for queer, trans, Two-Spirit, and allied youth, what does that mean? Basically, it means that CampOUT! is for ANYONE interested in embracing gender and sexual diversity, equity, and social change!