Terms and Definitions
agender – adj. : a person with no (or very little) connection to the traditional system of gender, no personal alignment with the concepts of either man or woman, and/or someone who sees themselves as existing without gender. Sometimes called gender neutrois, gender neutral, or genderless.
ally /“al-lie”/ – noun : a (typically straight and/or cisgender) person who supports and respects members of the LGBTQ community. We consider people to be active allies who take action on in support and respect.
androgyny/ous /“an-jrah-jun-ee”; “an-jrah-jun-uss”/ – adj. : 1 a gender expression that has elements of both masculinity and femininity; 2 occasionally used in place of “intersex” to describe a person with both female and male anatomy.
aromantic – adj. : experiencing little or no romantic attraction to others and/or has a lack of interest in romantic relationships/behavior.
asexual – adj. : experiencing little or no sexual attraction to others and/or a lack of interest in sexual relationships/behavior. Asexuality exists on a continuum from people who experience no sexual attraction or have any desire for sex, to those who experience low levels, or sexual attraction only under specific conditions, and many of these different places on the continuum have their own identity labels (see demisexual). Sometimes abbreviated to “ace.”
bigender – adj. : a person who fluctuates between traditionally “woman” and “man” gender-based behavior and identities, identifying with both genders (and sometimes a third gender).
biological sex – noun : a medical term used to refer to the chromosomal, hormonal and anatomical characteristics that are used to classify an individual as female or male or intersex. Often referred to as simply “sex,” “physical sex,” “anatomical sex,” or specifically as “sex assigned at birth.”
bisexual – adj. : 1 a person who is emotionally, physically, and/or sexually attracted to males/men and females/women. 2 a person who is emotionally, physically, and/or sexually attracted to people of their gender and another gender . This attraction does not have to be equally split or indicate a level of interest that is the same across the genders or sexes an individual may be attracted to.
cisgender /“siss-jendur”/ – adj. : a person whose gender identity and biological sex assigned at birth align (e.g., man and assigned male at birth). A simple way to think about it is if a person is not transgender, they are cisgender. The word cisgender can also be shortened to “cis.”
cissexism – noun : behavior that grants preferential treatment to cisgender people, reinforces the idea that being cisgender is somehow better or more “right” than being transgender, and/or makes other genders invisible.
cisnormativity – noun : the assumption, in individuals or in institutions, that everyone is cisgender, and that cisgender identities are superior to trans* identities or people. Leads to invisibility of non-cisgender identities.
closeted – adj. : an individual who is not open to themselves or others about their (queer) sexuality or gender identity. This may be by choice and/or for other reasons such as fear for one’s safety, peer or family rejection or disapproval and/or loss of housing, job, etc. Also known as being “in the closet.” When someone chooses to break this silence they “come out” of the closet.
demisexual – adj. : little or no capacity to experience sexual attraction until a strong romantic or emotional connection is formed with another individual, often within a romantic relationship.
drag queen – noun : someone who performs femininity theatrically.
femme – (noun & adj) someone who identifies themselves as feminine, whether it be physically, mentally or emotionally. Often used to refer to a feminine-presenting queer woman.
FtM / F2M; MtF / M2F – abbreviation : female-to-male transgender or transsexual person; male-to-female transgender or transsexual person.
gay – adj. : : : 1 individuals who are primarily emotionally, physically, and/or sexually attracted to members of the same sex and/or gender. More commonly used when referring to men who are attracted to other men, but can be applied to women as well. 2 An umbrella term used to refer to the queer community as a whole, or as an individual identity label for anyone who does not identify as heterosexual.
gender binary – noun : the idea that there are only two genders and that every person is one of those two.
gender expression – noun : the external display of one’s gender, through a combination of dress, demeanor, social behavior, and other factors, generally made sense of on scales of masculinity and femininity. Also referred to as “gender presentation.”
gender identity – noun : the internal perception of an one’s gender, and how they label themselves, based on how much they align or don’t align with what they understand their options for gender to be. Common identity labels include man, woman, genderqueer, trans, and more. Often confused with biological sex, or sex assigned at birth.
gender non-conforming – adj. : 1 a gender expression descriptor that indicates a non-traditional gender presentation (masculine woman or feminine man) 2 a gender identity label that indicates a person who identifies outside of the gender binary. Often abbreviated as “GNC.”
genderqueer – adj. : a gender identity label often used by people who do not identify with the binary of man/woman; or as an umbrella term for many gender non-conforming or non-binary identities (e.g., agender, bigender, genderfluid). Includes those who do not place a name to their gender having an overlap of, or blurred lines between, gender identity and sexual and romantic orientation.
hermaphrodite – noun : an outdated medical term previously used to refer to someone who was born with some combination of typically-male and typically-female sex characteristics. It’s considered stigmatizing and inaccurate.
heteronormativity – noun : the assumption, in individuals and/or in institutions, that everyone is heterosexual and that heterosexuality is superior to all other sexualities. Leads to invisibility and stigmatizing of other sexualities: when learning a woman is married, asking her what her husband’s name is. Heteronormativity also leads us to assume that only masculine men and feminine women are straight.
heterosexual – adj. : a person primarily emotionally, physically, and/or sexually attracted to members of the opposite sex. Also known as straight.
homophobia – noun : an umbrella term for a range of negative attitudes (e.g., fear, anger, intolerance, resentment, erasure, or discomfort) that one may have towards members of LGBTQ community. The term can also connote a fear, disgust, or dislike of being perceived as LGBTQ. Homophobic – adj. : a word used to describe an individual who harbors some elements of this range of negative attitudes towards gay people.
intersex – adj. : term for a combination of chromosomes, gonads, hormones, internal sex organs, and genitals that differs from the two expected patterns of male or female. Formerly known as hermaphrodite (or hermaphroditic), but these terms are now outdated and derogatory.
lesbian – noun & adj. women who have the capacity to be attracted romantically, erotically, and/or emotionally to some other women.
LGBTQ; GSM; DSG – abbreviations : shorthand or umbrella terms for all folks who have a non-normative (or queer) gender or sexuality, there are many different initialisms people prefer. LGBTQ is Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender and Queer and/or Questioning (sometimes people at a + at the end in an effort to be more inclusive); GSM is Gender and Sexual Minorities; DSG is Diverse Sexualities and Genders. Other options include the initialism GLBT or LGBT and the acronym QUILTBAG (Queer [or Questioning] Undecided Intersex Lesbian Trans* Bisexual Asexual [or Allied] and Gay [or Genderqueer]).
MSM / WSW – abbreviations : men who have sex with men or women who have sex with women, to distinguish sexual behaviors from sexual identities: because a man is straight, it doesn’t mean he’s not having sex with men. Often used in the field of HIV/Aids education, prevention, and treatment.
Mx. / “mix” or “schwa” / – an honorific (e.g. Mr., Ms., Mrs., etc.) that is gender neutral. It is often the option of choice for folks who do not identify within the gender binary: Mx. Smith is a great teacher.
outing – verb : involuntary or unwanted disclosure of another person’s sexual orientation, gender identity, or intersex status.
pansexual – adj. : a person who experiences sexual, romantic, physical, and/or spiritual attraction for members of all gender identities/expressions. Often shortened to “pan.”
PGPs – abbreviation : preferred gender pronouns. Often used during introductions, becoming more common in educational institutions. Many suggest removing the “preferred,” because it indicates flexibility and/or the power for the speaker to decide which pronouns to use for someone else.
queer – adj. : used as an umbrella term to describe individuals who don’t identify as straight. Also used to describe people who have a non-normative gender identity, or as a political affiliation. Due to its historical use as a derogatory term, it is not embraced or used by all members of the LGBTQ community. The term “queer” can often be use interchangeably with LGBTQ (e.g., “queer folks” instead of “LGBTQ folks”).
QPOC / QTPOC – abbreviation : initialisms that stand for queer people of color and queer and/or trans people of color.
romantic attraction – noun : a capacity that evokes the want to engage in romantic intimate behavior (e.g., dating, relationships, marriage), experienced in varying degrees (from little-to-none, to intense). Often conflated with sexual attraction, emotional attraction, and/or spiritual attraction.
sex assigned at birth (SAAB) – abbreviation : a phrase used to intentionally recognize a person’s assigned sex (not gender identity). Sometimes called “designated sex at birth” (DSAB) or “sex coercively assigned at birth” (SCAB), or specifically used as “assigned male at birth” (AMAB) or “assigned female at birth” (AFAB): Jenny was assigned male at birth, but identifies as a woman.
sexual attraction – noun : a capacity that evokes the want to engage in physical intimate behavior (e.g., kissing, touching, intercourse), experienced in varying degrees (from little-to-none, to intense). Often conflated with romantic attraction, emotional attraction, and/or spiritual attraction.
sexual orientation – noun : the type of sexual, romantic, emotional/spiritual attraction one has the capacity to feel for some others, generally labeled based on the gender relationship between the person and the people they are attracted to. Often confused with sexual preference.
sex reassignment surgery (SRS) – noun : used by some medical professionals to refer to a group of surgical options that alter a person’s biological sex. “Gender confirmation surgery” is considered by many to be a more affirming term. In most cases, one or multiple surgeries are required to achieve legal recognition of gender variance. Some refer to different surgical procedures as “top” surgery and “bottom” surgery to discuss what type of surgery they are having without having to be more explicit.
third gender – noun : for a person who does not identify with either man or woman, but identifies with another gender. This gender category is used by societies that recognize three or more genders, both contemporary and historic, and is also a conceptual term meaning different things to different people who use it, as a way to move beyond the gender binary.
trans* – adj. : An umbrella term covering a range of identities that transgress socially defined gender norms. Trans with an asterisk is often used in written forms (not spoken) to indicate that you are referring to the larger group nature of the term, and specifically including non-binary identities, as well as transgender men (transmen) and transgender women (trans women).
transgender – adj. : A person who lives as a member of a gender other than that assigned at birth based on anatomical sex.
transition / transitioning – noun, verb this term is primarily used to refer to the process a trans* person undergoes when changing their bodily appearance either to be more congruent with the gender/sex they feel themselves to be and/or to be in harmony with their preferred gender expression.
transman; transwoman – noun : An identity label sometimes adopted by female-to-male transgender people or transsexuals to signify that they are men while still affirming their history as assigned female sex at birth. (sometimes referred to as transguy) 2 Identity label sometimes adopted by male-to-female transsexuals or transgender people to signify that they are women while still affirming their history as assigned male sex at birth.
transphobia – noun : the fear of, discrimination against, or hatred of trans* people, the trans* community, or gender ambiguity. Transphobia can be seen within the queer community, as well as in general society. Transphobia is often manifested in violent and deadly means. While the exact numbers and percentages aren’t incredibly solid on this, it’s safe to say that trans* people are far more likely than their cisgender peers (including LGB people) to be the victims of violent crimes and murder. Transphobic – adj. : a word used to describe an individual who harbors some elements of this range of negative attitudes, thoughts, intents, towards trans* people.
two-spirit – noun : is an umbrella term traditionally used by Native American people to recognize individuals who possess qualities or fulfill roles of both genders.