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WTF Is Skoliosexual?

Terminology about gender and sexuality are always evolving. Skoliosexuality is part of the conversation.
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As conversations around gender and sexuality continue to evolve, new terms are constantly emerging. Skoliosexual is a relatively recent addition to the LGBTQ+ lexicon, and it’s a controversial one. 

What Does Skoliosexual Mean?

Articulating a precise definition of skoliosexual is tricky because it’s used in varied ways by different people. Broadly, it refers to attraction towards trans, non-binary, and genderqueer folk. The word comes from the Greek root “scolios.” This means crooked or bent, and some people object to that implication.

For some, skoliosexual means an exclusive attraction to people who aren’t cis. Others use it to express attraction toward trans, non-binary, and genderqueer folk, as well as cis people. 

To complicate matters further, skoliosexual is sometimes used to refer to attraction to either non-binary or trans people but not both. And some argue that it should only be used by or about NB or trans people who are attracted to, or only attracted to, other trans or NB folk. 

What About Ceterosexuality? Is it Skoliosexuality By A Different Name?

Ceterosexuality is an alternative term from the Latin root “cetero,” meaning ”and the rest,” as in et cetera. It’s preferred by some. Many of whom use it only to refer to themselves as trans or non-binary people who are only attracted to other non-binary or trans people. 

But ceterosexual is also used in many of the same ways as skoliosexual. And these can be problematic–let’s dig into that next.

Why is the Term “Skoliosexuality” Controversial?

There are several dimensions to the controversy surrounding skoliosexuality. Some see it as a positive. Ultimately, saying that lots of individuals who identify as skoliosexual are trans or non-binary themselves.  

These people often argue that having a term for attraction to non-cis folk helps to reduce stigma and transphobia. But using it to describe attraction to trans folk “others” them, and implies that they are somehow less than cis men and women. Therefore, many trans, NB, and genderqueer people object to it.

There is also the problem of fetishization of trans+ folk, where “chasers” seek sexual gratification with a trans person, objectifying and using them without consideration for their feelings, needs, or fulfillment. 

The term skoliosexual risks validating this behavior and legitimizing the treatment of trans people as a kink to be fulfilled rather than as human beings with emotions, desires, and personalities. 

It is also important to remember that you can’t tell just by looking at someone whether they are non-binary or not. As such, being attracted to NB folk isn’t about how we look. Plenty of NB and genderqueer people appear feminine or masculine. However, it’s about how we experience ourselves as well as our relationship to and understanding of gender. 

Isn’t Skoliosexual the Same As…? 

Arguably, skoliosexual isn’t a necessary addition to the lexical field of sexual attraction. There are several more well-recognized terms, like pansexual or bisexual, which cover similar ground. However, these are admittedly broader and more generalized terms.

Speaking of which, don’t confuse skoliosexuality with some of the other sexual orientations you might be more familiar with. 

Skoliosexual is not the same as:

Pansexual

Attraction to people, regardless
of gender or gender identity

Bisexual

Attraction to more than one gender or gender identity, sometimes used to mean the
same thing as pansexual

Polysexual

Attraction to multiple, but not all, genders and gender identities

The Bottom Line on Skoliosexuality

Given the ambiguity and variance surrounding the use of both skoliosexual and ceterosexual terms, it may not be obvious what someone means when they use them. If you’re unsure, ask. 

Just as with any other term for sexual orientation or gender identity, these aren’t words to apply to someone else unless you’re sure that they’re the person’s preferred terms.  Again, if in doubt, ask.

But the understandable divisiveness of both terms means that it’s wise to approach them with caution and sensitivity–if at all. While there may be reasons for trans and NB people to use them to describe who they’re attracted to, there are some strong arguments against using them to categorize cis people, and in the case of skoliosexual, its usefulness at all. 

So if you find yourself reaching for “skoliosexual” to describe yourself or someone else, it might be worth thinking about whether there’s another word that would do the job better.

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