Question about the origin/use of European FLINTA acronym

Hey poloverse, I’m a North American (white passing, cisgender man) who’s been living in Switzerland for a couple years now.

I have a question about the use of FLINTA in European bike polo. My understanding is that FLINTA means Fem Lesbian Intersex Non-binary Trans and A gender. However, in North America variations of WTFNB are often used (Woman Trans Fem Non-binary, and sometimes WTFNB+ to be more inclusive of other gender identities). In NA WTFNB is used to address disparities in the representation gender minorities in bike polo. The same as I imagine FLINTA is used here in Europe. Either way it seems that WTFNB and FLINTA are used to address gender inequity in bike polo.

I understand these acronyms aren’t perfect, and won’t likely represent the diversity of all players that might fit into them. With this context, I have a genuine question about the use of FLINTA.

Specifically, I’ve been trying to figure out why lesbian is used. Lesbian just stands out to me as a sexual orientation, where as the others are gender identities/expressions.

Please keep in mind, I’m not trying to start something between NA and EU, or start a big debate about which acronym is better or more inclusive (re: no acronym can perfectly fit the diversity of a group it’s attempting to represent). I just want to understand. I might just be missing some context as a cis-gender man.

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hey, i can try to explain :slight_smile:

so the term FLINTA is historically grown and is, as i understand it, actually coming more from the concept of safer and exclusive spaces in german speaking left scenes. this used to be in the seventies/eighties with the beginning of the (western) second feminist movement frauenzentren (women centers), but since there was a lot of discrimination also from women to lesbians, spaces especially for women AND lesbians were established. to point out the extra discrimination that lesbians are facing compared to cis-het-women a lesbian identity became more and more common.
i don’t want to go too much into detail of the history of (queer)feminism now, but later more and more letters/identities were added to this concept, as they became more visible and demanded their space in the antipatriarchal struggle.

so i got to know this term first time through a FLIT-space years ago (the trans was still supposed to include non-binary identity) and it was kind of a lifechanger when we all started to use the term FLINTA, so we could all feel included and include everyone. but that is my story with it, it can be different for others.

if i remember correctly the term FLINTA was kind of introduced to the polo scene by vienna, so there you have the background: first a german definition (just super easy to change the Frauen to Female), used a lot in feminist political scenes, then made it’s way to language.
the L for lesbian is not used everywhere as far as i know, some people might write FINTA. in my opinion it has historical value and for some it is their gender identity rather than female i suppose, so that would be reason enough i think :slight_smile:

and what i would like to point out extra: just that years or decades ago there were no words for some identities or it was even more dangerous and unsafe to be outside of heteronormativity, does not mean that they did not exist.
i think it would be quite hard to find a perfect term that would umbrella all of the different identities etc, but all terms are open for discussion and change (as happened with FLINTA and also with WTFNB+). i am very happy that the bikepolo scene is using these terms and trying to include different gender identities, because it does make a huge difference for a lot of people and brings awareness to others.

i hope that makes some things more clear and as i said, other people might explain it a bit different.

one question also from myself for the NA term WTFNB - why is it women and femme? i have some ideas about it, but i don’t really get it and since this is the right thread, maybe someone can explain it? :upside_down_face:


@haski, thanks so much for taking the time to respond to my question in such detail. I really appreciate the background you’ve provided. I had looked up the use of FLINTA in Europe and knew there was a German connection. But I wasn’t sure about in polo. While I think I have an OK background on queer feminism in the US, I definitely am missing some context of its history in Europe.

I will say, on first hearing FLINTA my knee jerk reaction was it sounded like something akin to TERF ideology. But that was a nonsensical reaction given that trans identities are included in the term. I think its probably more that I have never met someone identifying as a lesbian in regards to gender identity, its always been a sexual orientation/preference.

I can try to address my understanding of “fem” in WTFNB. I think it goes along the lines of queer-gender folks who were AFAB but don’t necessary identify as non-binary, or trans, or all of the wild spectrum of gender. They might steel feel fem, but not non-binary or trans. Again, this is just my understanding (as a cis-man). And its like we’ve both mentioned, its an imperfect umbrella term. So some folks that others would consider WTFNB might think what I’ve said makes me a dingus.


coucou :slight_smile:
thanks a lot for this exchange :purple_heart:
i live in Bordeaux (FR), and several players (french speakers) have been asking what means FLINTA. So first , it’s supa nice to have this written down in the way we can understand better this acronym.
and Yes ! lesbian is not only a sexual orientation but also a political fight.
for sure being lesbian is / can be a political subject and fight.
i think using FLINTA more than FINTA expresses also a fight against homophobia.
True this term is not perfect. I mean this can be changed on the way.
but using FLINTA acronym / creating FLINTA time-spaces is political.
It takes part in the fight against discrimination and normativity.
We need it, from my perspective this fight is just endless. We are facing a huuuuge wave of international fascism. Europe is on the TOP 3. Fighting is not an option.
maybe some of us have nrj and can create a shared pad with links and ressources about these topics. I can start it :slight_smile:

hum, i’m also wondering how we could open this topic to “DIS” for disability as another big factor of discrimination that some people face daily. (this is from wiki = “Disabilities may be cognitive, developmental, intellectual, mental, physical, sensory or a combination of multiple factors.”)
is there an acronym in English ?

OKAY bisous
on garde la pêche :purple_heart::purple_heart::purple_heart:
anne lise


Great idea to mention disabilities. There is definitely space here for that in my opinion, its the same kind of political fight against discrimination. But I don’t have much to contribute to it even though I’m neurodivergent myself (ADHD gang lets go). I’m not aware of any acronyms for disabled people especially given how broad that term is.


This is a recent post from Instagram and I think it is very important. There are critical thoughts and points around the FLINTA* term that should be in mind. I thought it would fit here




FLINTA* should not be a synonym for women. period.
I do not oppose the akronym as there isn’t a better one atm. But still it is important to acknowledge the critical perspectives on it.


i also had feedback that , while approaching a group of riders to welcome them to “polo flinta night” they got put off by the acronym and replied “ew not inclusive enough, we just say queer nights”

thx for this copy paste i saw it but didnt really read it on insta. i kinda felt weird about using the acronym" flinta" in all my sentences when really i was refering to girls/ women ( and i mean , who ever present themselves as such, im happy to embrace them)

i was also wondering how to include transgender, and thought that if i was transitioning myself i would rather not be labeled as such ( but i hate labels ).

instead , i would like to find a space that is just welcoming of whoever i am ? but whats the usual take on this in other clubs ? imo i think people come to polo if they have a friend there or someone they want to befriend , but ive seen a few players just be intrigued by the sport and just stand there lonely and keeping on coming every week just for the sake of playing. in my case its a mix of both.

i also recently tried to push the few females players in london ( we briefly had an exciting amount of 4 in town yeaa) to throw a female only night , but not sure if they felt ostracized by the concept ( also 2 of them are very new and can barely make it to trainings due to their life being super busy) but in that case whats other clubs aproach ? is there a separate female nights and queer / flinta / wtfnb in some clubs ?

That would be a ideal. But you can read the other discussions why safer (and exclusive) spaces are important for marginalised groups.

The thing with the wording is complicated, as the world itself. And trying to create a safer spaces always brings the risk to exclude someone.
Not every trans person wants to be addressed as such or wants to participate in such spaces. (And that’s totally valid too).

Yes there are some clubs! In Vienna we did it regularly (and will do).

Maybe you can reflect on this: as a person who identifies with the ‚A‘ for me it is impossible to present myself in a way that people would ,read‘ my non-existent gender identity right. And I hate being addressed as ,women‘ or even worse ,girl‘.

Most inter* and non-binary people have similar experiences. Gender expression is not the same as gender identity. There are more examples for that (genderfluid people, drags, cross dresser)
And of course people that do not pass in their gender identity.
That’s actually the reason why we want to find an inclusive term because you can’t guess someone’s gender identity from their appearance.

thats when a safe but exclusive place is necessary imo , i think people feel more comfortable with their kind first , and everything is more natural.

although i would love to call myself welcoming im constantly misgendering my friends , sometimes it might be just me adding “dude” or “guys” to a sentence aimed at a female friend, even in my native tongue , but more importantly i misgender people transitioning. most of the time i just try to shut up and talk less ( which is hard for me ) but even still i manage to hurt them .even trying very hard its sometimes link to the fact im already translating everything i say from french to english.

so i rather withdraw myself completely rather than making it akward for everyone in these space, but then i find limited the amount of inclusiveness these people will receive, and are we really including everyone or just creating separate spaces for everyone to be comfy in , but then not really blending cultures ( ghettoization)

it also makes it very hard to START increasing numbers of flinta/wtf/queer players if your club is by default none , or few , and these few might just be into other things and have a very busy social life and dont want to become a queer spoke person for their polo club :sweat_smile: so i would love an even deeper 1 to 1 coaching or someone visiting london to lay down some fondations for it .

to me being picky about acronyms is just another divisive vision as well but i kinda dislike most of them ( POC for exemple) no labels , no flags , no country , no wars ?