ISU students share varying identifications, personal definitions

Ellen Bombela

Over the years, many different identities and terms have surfaced as individuals discover themselves and others around them.

Many people have their own unique definitions of their identities. Though there are countless identities out there, here are a few with personal definitions from people around campus:


According to Dictionary, an online dictionary service, the definition of genderqueer is “relating to or having a gender identity that is other than male or female, is a combination of the two genders, or is on a continuum between the two genders.”

However, Savanna, an ISU student who wished to keep identity private because of not publicly being out as genderqueer, made the definition personalized.

“My definition of genderqueer and how I apply it to myself is that I am outside of the gender binary, so I don’t identify as a man or a woman,” Savanna said.

Savanna said it is important to keep in mind that genderqueer is outside of the gender binary, so people who identify as genderqueer don’t feel like they would ever want to change or alter their body.

“I prefer taking gender roles and expressions from both men and women and combining them,” Savanna said. “I mostly like dressing androgynously to express how I’m genderqueer, so that tends to be on a day-to-day basis.”


According to Your Dictionary, an online dictionary source, the definition of bisexual is “a person who has both male and female organs or is sexually attracted to both men and women.”

“For me, it’s an open attraction to two or more genders, and for me personally, it’s any gender,” said Carolyn Hutchinson, graduate student in chemistry as well as the public relations and outreach coordinator for the Queer* Graduate Student Association. “It’s really not taking gender into consideration.”

Hutchinson said while she was growing up, some people, including her mother, didn’t believe bisexuality existed.

“Since I was a kid, my mom said things such as you can be gay, you can be straight, but not bisexual, like bisexual people don’t exist,” Hutchinson said. “She believed that bisexual people were just confused.”

Hutchinson went on to explain that she knew her mother was wrong because she knew what she was feeling, and she never questioned that.


According to Dictionary, pansexual is “expressing or involving sexuality in many different forms or with a variety of sexual outlets.”

Jennifer Luce, sophomore in psychology who identifies as pansexual, talked about how pansexual and bisexual are easily confused, and sometimes it’s hard to grasp what the difference between the two actually is.

“I view pansexual as attraction regardless of gender and bisexual as attraction to all genders,” Luce said. “However, I grew up being told that bisexuality is within the gender binary, and that is how my family and friends view it, so I identify as pansexual to show that I do not adhere to the binary. Basically, I identify as pansexual for ease of explanation, not necessarily because of the definition it holds.”


According to Merriam-Webster, a dictionary service, the definition of transgender is “being a person who identifies with or expresses a gender identity that differs from the one that corresponds to the person’s sex at birth.”

“It’s kind of a tricky term to define,” said Marie McCarthy, senior in journalism and communication. “I don’t really think of the definition, it’s just something that I am.”

McCarthy expressed that she feels like a lot of people don’t have a clear understanding of what it means to be transgender.

“Caitlyn Jenner is what some people would call a male to female transgender person, and I think because of that, a lot of people might think transgender means a male assigned person transitioning to a female gender role or expression, but it’s really, really not just that,” McCarthy said. “It’s a massive spectrum of people who identify differently.”

McCarthy went on to explain some of the different ways individuals might identify within the transgender spectrum.

“Some people may not identify with a specific gender,” McCarthy said. “Some people may not identify with any gender at all. Other people go from female to male. Some people transition to what they would call their own gender. I guess it’s a really massive, complicated umbrella term that I think people misuse a lot.”


According to Merriam Webster, polyamory is “the state or practice of having more than one open romantic relationship at a time.”

“I use the definition multiple relationships with the consent of everyone involved,” said Kenni Terrell, sophomore in journalism and communication.

Ever since she knew what polyamory was, she identified with it.

“I came out five years ago when I heard about it and found out that it existed,” Terrell said. “I knew it was me. It wasn’t something that I had to think about. That’s like with all of my identities, I just kind of know.”

Terrell talked about how many people might not have a good understanding of what polyamory is, but once they are given the definition, they seem to understand it.

“Once I describe [polyamory] to people, they usually understand it,” Terrell said. “I feel like society is becoming more understanding.”


According to Dictionary, the definition of genderfluid is “noting or relating to a person whose gender identity or gender expression is not fixed and shifts over time or depending on the situation.”

“I personally describe gender fluid as a tendency to feel different genders at different points in time, whether it be days, months or years,” Terrell said. “For me, that can be on the masculine, feminine or no gender spectrum.”

Terrell explained how she knew she was genderfluid and also explained what it feels like to be mislabeled when it comes to gender.

“I feel dysphoric at times when people call me different things,” Terrell said. “It’s kind of like an anxiety attack but a little low key. Your heart speeds up and it doesn’t feel right, and that’s kind of how I knew I was genderfluid.”


Although lots of different identities exist, some people choose to be non-identifiers, such as Ariel Jetty, graduate student in education.

“It’s pretty much just not having to conform to anything,” Jetty said. “Part of my definition for my non-identity is that I am attracted to personalities. Personalities are my first priority. If someone has a personality that I find attractive, it doesn’t matter to me how they identify or what is under their clothes.”

Jetty explained that while growing up, she tried to find a label that would fit her, but then as she got to thinking about it, she didn’t see why getting stuck in a box surrounding one identity was necessary.

“Why do I need to identify?” Jetty asked. “It doesn’t really matter to me, I don’t care about the labels. I like who I like.”

It’s a little tricky to explain to people because society is obsessed with labels, and she shouldn’t have to adhere to those labels that they try to put on her, Jetty said. 

“People piece things together and assume others’ identities, so it’s really hard for people to wrap their minds around that I don’t identify as anything,” Jetty said.