Glossary of LGBTQ+ Terminology

May 28, 2024

Agender: An identity within the non-binary and trans+ spectrum. Some agender individuals feel they have no gender identity, while others consider agender to be a distinct gender identity. This can overlap with experiences of being gender-neutral or having a neutral gender identity.

Allyship: The practice of actively working to end oppression by supporting and advocating for groups other than one's own.

Asexual: Often abbreviated as “ace,” this term refers to individuals who experience a complete or partial lack of sexual attraction or interest in sexual activity. Asexuality exists on a spectrum, with varying levels of sexual attraction.

Biphobia: The fear, hatred, or discomfort directed at individuals who experience romantic or sexual attraction to more than one gender.

Bisexual: A person who is emotionally, romantically, or sexually attracted to more than one gender, though not necessarily simultaneously or in the same manner. Sometimes used interchangeably with pansexual.

Cisgender: A gender identity that aligns with the sex assigned to an individual at birth. The prefix "cis-" means "on this side of" or "not across." This term is used to highlight the societal privilege of those who are not transgender.

Deadname/Deadnaming: A deadname is the name a trans+/nonbinary person no longer uses, typically the one assigned at birth. Using this name, intentionally or otherwise, is referred to as deadnaming and is considered offensive and hurtful.

Gay: A person who is emotionally, romantically, or sexually attracted to members of the same gender. This term is used by men, women, and non-binary individuals.

Gender: A social construct that classifies individuals as men, women, or other identities, distinct from the sex assigned at birth.

Genderqueer: Individuals who reject fixed categories of gender, embracing fluidity in gender identity and often, but not always, sexual orientation. They may identify as both male and female, neither, or entirely outside these categories.

Gender Affirming: Actions, language, medical care, and other measures that affirm an individual’s gender identity or expression. Examples include gender-affirming surgery.

Gender binary: A system categorizing gender into two strict categories: male and female. It assumes gender identity should align with the sex assigned at birth, along with traditional gender expressions and roles.

Gender dysphoria: Significant distress experienced when an individual’s assigned birth gender does not match their identified gender.

Gender-expansive: Individuals with a broader, more flexible range of gender identity and/or expression than what is typically associated with the binary gender system. Often used as an umbrella term for young people exploring their gender identity and expression.

Gender expression: The external presentation of one’s gender identity, expressed through behavior, clothing, body characteristics, or voice, which may or may not conform to traditional gender norms.

Gender-fluid: A person whose gender identity is not fixed and may shift over time.

Gender Identity: An individual’s personal sense of their gender, whether it is trans, genderqueer, woman, man, or another identity, which may or may not correspond with their assigned sex at birth.

Genderism/Cissexism: The belief that only two genders exist and that one’s gender is inherently tied to their assigned sex. This viewpoint privileges cisgender individuals and oppresses trans and gender non-conforming individuals.

Heteronormativity: The assumption that everyone is straight or that heterosexuality is the norm.

Homophobia: The fear, hatred, or discomfort directed at individuals who are attracted to members of the same sex.

Internalized oppression: The internalization of negative beliefs about one’s own identities, often resulting in fear and self-hate.

Intersectionality: A concept coined by Kimberlé Crenshaw to describe how multiple systems of oppression intersect in the lives of individuals with multiple marginalized identities. It provides a framework for understanding complex social dynamics and promoting inclusive advocacy.

Intersex: Individuals born with variations in sex traits and reproductive anatomy. These differences can include variations in genitalia, chromosomes, gonads, internal sex organs, hormone production, hormone response, and secondary sex traits.

Lesbian: A woman who is emotionally, romantically, or sexually attracted to other women. Non-binary individuals may also use this term to describe themselves.

LGBTQ+: An acronym for "lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer," with a "+" sign to recognize the diversity of sexual orientations and gender identities within the community.

Microaggressions: Subtle, often unintentional behaviors that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative messages about marginalized identities. These actions can invalidate the person’s identity and reinforce stereotypes.

Misgendering: Incorrectly attributing a gender to someone that does not align with their gender identity.

Neopronouns: Gender-neutral pronouns, such as ze/zir or ey/em, used instead of traditional pronouns like they/them.

Non-binary: An adjective for individuals who do not exclusively identify as male or female. They may identify as both, somewhere in between, or entirely outside these categories. Non-binary can also encompass identities such as agender, bigender, genderqueer, or gender-fluid.

Orientation: An individual’s attraction or lack of attraction to other people, which can be fluid. It includes various types such as romantic, sexual, sensual, aesthetic, intellectual, and platonic.

Outing: Revealing someone's LGBTQ+ identity without their permission, potentially causing serious personal, professional, or safety repercussions.

Pansexual: Describes individuals who have the potential for emotional, romantic, or sexual attraction to people of any gender, though not necessarily simultaneously or in the same way. Sometimes used interchangeably with bisexual.

Queer: A term used to express a spectrum of identities and orientations that challenge mainstream norms. It can include those who do not identify as exclusively straight and those with non-binary or gender-expansive identities. This term has been reclaimed by parts of the LGBTQ+ movement after previously being used as a slur.

Questioning: Describes individuals who are exploring their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Same-gender loving: A term some people prefer over lesbian, gay, or bisexual to express attraction to and love for individuals of the same gender.

Sex assigned at birth: The classification of an infant as male, female, or intersex by a medical professional based on their external anatomy at birth.

Sexuality: The aspects of a person that include their biological sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, and sexual practices.

Sexual orientation: An inherent, enduring pattern of emotional, romantic, or sexual attraction to others. It is independent of an individual's gender identity.

Transgender: An umbrella term for individuals whose gender identity or expression differs from the cultural expectations based on the sex they were assigned at birth. Transgender individuals may identify as straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual, etc.

Transitioning: The processes some transgender individuals undergo to live more authentically in their gender. This may include social transition (e.g., changing name and pronouns), medical transition (e.g., hormone therapy, surgeries), and legal transition (e.g., updating legal documents). Not all transgender individuals choose to undergo all or any of these processes.

Transphobia: The manifestation of deeply rooted negative beliefs about transgender, nonbinary, and gender nonconforming individuals.


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