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ABC: D is for Demi(Sexual/Gender)

We often hear “demi”in the context of demigods. Many demigods (in Greek mythology) were children of Zeus or Poseidon, and legend has it that these mythological figures tended to become infatuated with mortal humans quite often.

But wait a minute. That’s not the use of “demi” that we’re looking for here.

Demi is a prefix derived originally as a French noun/adjective from the Latin word dimidium, meaning “half.” However, demi is also a prefix used to describe two prominent queer identities: demisexuality and demigenders.

Demisexuality is a sexuality that is often categorized under an ace, or asexual, umbrella. Asexuality involves the absence of sexual attraction. Similar identities, such as gray-asexual or demisexual are related to the asexual identity. Though it uses the “demi-” prefix, demisexuality is not synonymous with being “half” sexual or “half” asexual. Demisexual-identified people can experience sexual attraction, unlike asexual-identified individuals, but this sexual attraction cannot occur until a strong emotional (not necessarily romantic) connection is formed with that other person. Only after an emotional connection is formed can a demisexual person have the potential to be sexually attracted to someone.

Demi can also prefix the term demiromantic, which embodies the same concept as demisexuality, but in regards to romantic attraction rather than sexual attraction.

It is important to note that this does not invalidate asexual identities. It is never okay to tell someone who identifies as asexual that they “just need to find the right person.”

Demigenders, on the other hand, more exactly encompass the meaning of “demi” being “half.” Someone who identifies as demigender usually identifies with one particular gender as well as having another gender identity or identities. This second (or third, or fourth … ) identity can be anywhere from third-gender to agender (in the case of fluidity between having a gender and having no gender) to anything else. For example, a person may identify as female, male, and gender neutral and use the label demigirl. Similarly, if a person identifies partially as a male without knowing what their other gender is, only that they don’t fit entirely within the constraints of the male gender, they may use the label demiboy. Sometimes the term demigender goes hand-in-hand with the term bigender, which refers to people who have two genders, regardless of whether those are the binary genders (male and female) or not.

Labels can vary from person to person, so not everyone may agree with these explanations. These are intended only as a guide for those who want to know where to start with understanding demi identities. Though demi identities can be difficult to grasp at first, remember that identities do not exist only in binaries. Why would we need to be limited to only two options?

For more detailed articles and information about demisexuality, visit Demisexuality.org.

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