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The struggle to find the right vocabulary to describe same-sex attraction or nonbinary identities is shared by many Americans whose families speak Asian or Middle Eastern languages at home.

The Muslim Youth Leadership Council works on issues such as LGBTQ and immigrant rights, as well as sexual and reproductive health.

That experience is one many Asian American families โ€” regardless of their countries of origin โ€” can relate to.

While communities in Asia may change their language usage, immigrants usually use only what they learned before moving, said Aruna Rao, founder of Desi Rainbow Parents and Allies, a South Asian American LGBTQ support organization.

Rao said that because most languages that originate from the Indian subcontinent are highly gendered, describing nonbinary and trans masculine identities in South Asian languages is particularly difficult.

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