LGBTQ Terminology


Ally: Any person who works in solidarity both with other heterosexual people and with the queer community to aid in the struggle against hate, discrimination, and the heterosexist and patriarchal norms present in our culture. Being an ally means: sharing the power, taking a risk, taking responsibility, opening yourself up to the unknown, realizing that you are part of the solution, leveling the playing field, accepting differences, making allowances, and leading by action.
Androgyny: Displaying characteristics of both or neither of the two culturally defined genders.
Asexual: An identity where people do not feel sexual attraction, or feel very little sexual attraction (Grey-asexual). This does not determine romantic attraction or sexual desire.

Cisgender: People whose gender identity matches the sex and gender role they were assigned at birth.
Coming out: The process of realizing, understanding, and accepting one’s sexual orientation or gender identity, usually involving the process of telling others. Because it’s a process, coming out is not a one-time occurrence, but hap-pens each time one presents oneself as non-straight. Because heterosexuality is part of the dominant culture, straight people do not have to come out.
Cross-Dresser: the act of wearing items of clothing and other accoutrements commonly associated with the “opposite” sex within a particular society.

Femme: a lesbian whose appearance and behavior are seen as traditionally feminine.
FTM (Trans Man): A male-identified person who was categorized as female at birth.

Heterosexism: The belief that heterosexuality is “normal,” or superior to other sexual orientations. It is one of the central ideas behind homo-, bi- and transphobia and is key to maintaining patriarchy. This often takes form as systemic or institutional heterosexism.
Heterosexual: sexually attracted to people of the “opposite” sex
Homophobia: Hatred and/or discrimination based on perceived or actual sexuality or gender identity. Homophobia manifests itself in a variety of ways, including verbal threats, jokes, physical/emotional violence, and discrimination in adoption, marriage, employment, et cetera.
Homosexual: sexually attracted to people of one's own sex.
Hormone Therapy: therapy involving the use of drugs or surgical procedures to suppress the production of or to inhibit the effects of a hormone (such as estrogen or testosterone)

Lesbian: A person who identifies as a woman who is emotionally, spiritually, physically and/or sexually attracted primarily to other women.
LGBTQIA: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning/Queer, Intersex, Asexual.

Nonbinary: Someone who’s identity does not fall at either end of the masculine/feminine spectrum or does not fit on that spectrum.

Pansexual: Someone who identifies their personal and/or sexual attraction to the personality of the individual nondependent on sex, gender, sexual orientation, etc. Pansexual is often confused/closely related with Bisexual.

Safe Space/Zone: A safe space is a place where LGBTQIA or questioning individuals feel comfortable and secure in being who they are. In this place, they can talk about their gender identity or sexual orientation without fear of being criticized, judged, or ridiculed. A safe space does not provide advice, but rather a caring environment for the sharing of concerns.
Sapphic: Someone who identifies as female who is attracted to people who predominantly identify as female.
Sexism: prejudice, stereotyping, or discrimination, typically against women, on the basis of sex.
Sexual orientation: The orientation within human beings, which leads them to be emotionally, spiritually, physically and/or sexually attracted to persons of one gender, another gender, or multiple genders. One’s sexual orientation may be homosexual, heterosexual, bisexual, asexual, or other, et cetera.
Straight [Non-Gay, Heterosexual]: Someone who is emotionally, spiritually, physically, and/or sexually attracted primarily to members of another sex/gender.

 Xenophobia: intense or irrational dislike or fear of strangers, people from different cultures, or people from other countries.

Bigender: denoting or relating to a person whose sense of personal identity encompasses two genders.
Biphobia: Hatred and/or discrimination against bisexual people. Like transphobia, this form of discrimination comes from both the straight and gay communities. Some members of the straight community often collapse bisexuality into homosexuality and refer to bi people as “gay.” Thus, bisexual people often face the same forms of discrimination, difficulty in adopting children, and emotional and physical violence as the lesbian/gay community. Some members of the lesbian/gay community, on the other hand, often feel hostility toward bisexual people for being able to “pass” as straight or for being “confused.”
Bisexual: A person who is emotionally, spiritually, physically and/or sexually attracted to those of any sex or gender.
Butch: having an appearance or other qualities of a type traditionally seen as masculine.

Demisexual: An identity where people cannot feel sexual attraction until an emotional bond is established.
Domestic Partner: a person who shares a residence with a sexual partner, especially without a legally recognized union.

Drag (Queen): a person, usually male, who dresses in drag and often acts with exaggerated femininity and in feminine gender roles for the purpose of entertainment or fashion. Often, they will exaggerate certain characteristics such as make-up and eyelashes for comic, dramatic, or satirical effect.
Dyke: a slang term for lesbian. Can be used derogatorily, or can be a self-ascribed label for lesbians with a more masculine demeanor.

Gay: A person who identifies as a man who is emotionally, spiritually, physically and/or sexually attracted primarily to other men. Gay however is often used as an umbrella term for both same-gender loving men and women, and many women identify as gay rather than, or in addition to, lesbian.
Gender: Characteristics of masculinity and femininity that are learned or chosen. A person’s assigned sex does not always match their gender identity, and most people display traits of more than one gender. It is important to note that gender is different from and not inherently linked to sexual orientation.
Gender binary: The concept that there are only two genders and that they are inherently connected to biological sex.
Gender Confirmation Surgery: Sex reassignment surgery or SRS (also known as gender reassignment surgery, genital reconstruction surgery, gender confirmation surgery or sex realignment surgery) is the surgical procedure (or procedures) by which a transgender person's physical appearance and function of their existing sexual characteristics are altered to resemble that socially associated with their identified gender.
Gender Dysphoria: the condition of feeling one's emotional and psychological identity as male or female to be different than one's biological sex.
Gender Expression: The way in which a person chooses to dress and present themselves, this is the result of society assigning gender to certain clothes or accessories.
Gender identity: Describes the gender with which a person identifies (i.e., whether one perceives oneself to be a man, a woman, or describes oneself in some less conventional way.)
Gender Neutral: denoting a word, expression, item that cannot be taken to refer to one gender only
Genderqueer: A term used by some people who identify outside of the traditional two-gender or gender-binary system. This term refers primarily to gender identity rather that sexual orientation.
Gender Role: the role or behavior learned by a person as appropriate to their gender, determined by the prevailing cultural norms.

Internalized homophobia: A hatred or fear of one’s own existing or potential homosexuality. It is largely responsible for the staggering numbers of queer teen suicides, depression, and substance abuse. It is also a contributing factor in violence against those perceived to be LGBTQIA. Internalized ableism, biphobia, racism, sexism, and transphobia, likewise, are responsible for shame, negative body image, and violence within our communities. Though the word internalize sounds negative, it is possible to internalize positive self-images and pride.
Intersex: Describes people born with some combination of male and female sex organs. According to the Intersex Society of North America, “Anatomic sex differentiation occurs on a male/female continuum, and there are several dimensions.” It is estimated that anywhere from 1 in 100 to 1 in 1,000 infants is born intersexed, but the most common reaction by the medical establishment is to “fix” these babies immediately through surgical means. Many consider surgeries to often be medically unnecessary and a form of mutilation.

Monosexual: A Person who is romantic or sexual attraction to members of one sex or gender only. A monosexual person may identify as heterosexual or homosexual.
(MTF) Trans Woman: A female-identified person who was categorized as male at birth.

Outing: When an LGBTQIA person has their identity shared with others without their permission. Depending on a person’s situation, being outed could cause great damage to their life and well-being. The term refers to “coming out of the closet.”

Queer: Is sometimes used as an umbrella term for those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, inter-sex, or asexual. Historically, the term was used as an insult against those perceived to be LGBTQIA. For this reason, its use can be controversial. It has been reclaimed by some LGBTQ people, especially younger generations. It can be a political statement which advocates breaking binary thinking and seeing both sexual orientation and gender identity as potentially fluid.
Questioning: A term used to describe a person who is unsure about their sexual orientation and chooses to label themselves as “questioning.”

Trans: An umbrella term for people whose gender identity is different from the sex and gender role they were assigned at birth. Transgender people can be heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, and may not identify as queer. Genderqueer people may or may not identify with this term.
Transgender: A person whose gender identity is different from the sex they were assigned at birth, so they may choose to take hormones and/or get genital reassignment surgery (GRS). Policies differ from location to location regarding the point in one’s journey when a transgender individual can legally change their name and other legal documents.
Transphobia: Hatred and/or discrimination against people who break or blur gender roles and sex characteristics. Transphobia is mandated by a gender regime that says we are either man or woman, masculine or feminine. Like biphobia, it is prevalent in both straight and lesbian/gay communities.
Two-Spirit: A term created by First Nation tribes feeling they did not fit within western concepts of sexuality and gender. The term two-spirit is exclusive to Indigenous persons. Two-spirit reflects traditional First Nations gender diversity, which includes the fluid nature of sexual and gender identity and its interconnectedness with spirituality and traditional world views.