LGBTQIA Glossary

Please keep in mind that this list is rudimentary, and that what comes with language is its ability to adapt, mutate and change. Terms are presented to you for the purpose of communication, and this list should hardly be considered an authoritative source.

ALLY: A person who confronts heterosexism, cissexism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, heterosexual privilege, and so on, in themselves and others out of self-interest and a concern for the well-being of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and other queer-related people, and who believes that heterosexism is a social injustice.

ANDROGYNE: A person with traits ascribed to males and females. Androgyny may be physical, presentational, or some combination.

ASEXUALITY: A sexual orientation generally characterized by not feeling sexual attraction or a desire for partnered sexuality. Asexuality is distinct from celibacy, which is the deliberate abstention from sexual activity. Some asexuals do have sex. There are many diverse ways of being asexual.

BIGENDERED: Having two genders; exhibiting cultural characteristics of male and female roles.

BIPHOBIA: Fear or hatred of people who are bisexual, pansexual, omnisexual, or nonmonosexual. Biphobia is closely linked with transphobia and homophobia.

BISEXUAL: A person whose primary sexual and affectional orientation is toward people of the same and other genders, or towards people regardless of their gender.

CISGENDER: A gender identity that society considers to “match” the biological sex assigned at birth. The prefix cis- means “on this side of” or “not across from.” A term used to call attention to the privilege of people who are not transgendered.

CISSEXISM: This is the discrimination against trans* and gender non-conforming individuals on the assumption that all people are cisgender. It is the more subtle form of transphobia, which reinforces silence and invisibility.

COMING OUT: Describes voluntarily making public one’s sexual behaviours, or sexual or gender identity. Related terms include: “being out,” which means not concealing one’s sexual behaviours or preference or gender identity, and “outing,” a term used for making public the sexual behaviours or preference or gender identity of another who would prefer to keep this information secret.

CROSSDRESSER (CD): The most neutral word to describe a person who dresses, at least partially or part of the time, and for any number of reasons, in clothing associated with another gender within a particular society. It carries no implications of “usual” gender appearance, or sexual orientation and has replaced “transvestite,” which is outdated, problematic, and generally offensive, since it was historically used to diagnose medical/mental health disorders.

DRAG KING: A woman who appears as a man on a temporary basis; she may or may not have any masculine expression in her usual life. Generally in reference to an act or performance.

DRAG QUEEN: A man who appears as a woman on a temporary basis; he may or may not have any feminine expression in his usual life. Generally in reference to an act or performance.

FTM (F2M): Female-to-male transsexual or transgender person. Someone assigned female at birth who identifies on the male spectrum.

GAY: A person (or adjective to describe a person) whose primary sexual and romantic orientation is toward people of the same gender; a commonly-used word for male homosexuals.

GENDER: A social construct used to classify a person as a man, woman, or some other identity. Fundamentally different from the sex one is assigned at birth.

GENDER EXPRESSION/PRESENTATION: How one expresses oneself, in terms of dress and/or behaviors that society characterizes as “masculine” or “feminine.” May also be androgynous or something else altogether. Some people differentiate between the two terms.

GENDERFLUID: Being fluid in motion between two or more genders; shifting naturally in gender identity and/or gender expression/presentation. May be a gender identity itself. Refers to the fluidity of identity.

GENDERFUCK: A form of gender identity or expression, genderfuck is an intentional attempt to present a confusing gender identity that contributes to dismantling the perception of a gender binary.

GENDER IDENTITY: A person’s internal sense or self-conceptualization of their own gender. Used to call attention to the self-identification inherent in gender. Cisgender, transgender, man, woman, genderqueer, etc. are all gender identities.

GENDERISM: The belief that there are, and should be, only two genders and that one’s gender or most aspects of it are inevitably tied to the assigned sex.

GENDER NON-CONFORMING (GNC): A person who does not subscribe to gender expressions or roles expected of them by society.

GENDER OUTLAW: A person who refuses to be defined by conventional definitions of men and women. A term popularized by Kate Bornstein in her book of the same name.

GENDERQUEER: A person whose gender identity and/or gender expression falls outside of the dominant societal norm for their assigned sex, is beyond genders, or is some combination thereof.

GENDER VARIANT: A person whose gender identity and/or gender expression varies from the culturally-expected characteristics of their assigned sex.

HETEROSEXISM: The assumption that all people are or should be heterosexual. Heterosexism excludes the needs, concerns, and life experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and other non-monosexual people as well as asexual, transgender, and intersex people, while it gives advantages to heterosexual people. Just like cissexism, it is often a subtle form of oppression which reinforces realities of silence and invisibility.

HETEROSEXUALITY: A sexual orientation in which a person feels physically and emotionally attracted to people of the “opposite” gender.

HOMOPHOBIA: The irrational hatred and fear of homosexuals or homosexuality. In a broader sense, any disapproval of homosexuality at all, regardless of motive. Homophobia includes prejudice, discrimination, harassment, and acts of violence brought on by fear and hatred. It occurs on personal, institutional, and societal levels, and is closely linked with transphobia, biphobia, and others.

HOMOSEXUALITY: A sexual orientation in which a person feels physically and emotionally attracted to people of the same gender. This term originated within the psychiatric community to label people with a mental illness, and still appears within the current discourse, but is generally thought to be outdated.

INTERNALIZED HOMOPHOBIA: The fear and self-hate of one’s own homosexuality or non-monosexuality that occurs for many individuals who have learned negative ideas about homosexuality throughout childhood. One form of internalized oppression is the acceptance of the myths and stereotypes applied to the oppressed group.

INTERSEX: People who naturally (that is, without any medical interventions) develop primary and/or secondary sex characteristics that do not fit neatly into society’s definitions of male or female. Many visibly intersex babies/children are surgically altered by doctors to make their sex characteristics conform to societal binary norm expectations. Intersex people are relatively common, although society’s denial of their existence has allowed very little room for intersex issues to be discussed publicly. Has replaced “hermaphrodite,” which is inaccurate, outdated, problematic, and generally offensive, since it means “having both sexes” and this is not necessarily true, as there are at least 16 different ways to be intersex.

LESBIAN: A woman whose primary sexual and romantic orientation is toward people of the same gender.

LGBT: Abbreviation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender. An umbrella term that is used to refer to the community as a whole.

MTF (M2F): Male-to-female transsexual or transgender person. Someone assigned male at birth who identifies on the female spectrum.

NON-MONOSEXUAL: People who have romantic, sexual, or affectional desire for more than one gender. Bisexuality is the most well-known form of non-monosexuality.

OMNIGENDERED: Possessing all genders; exhibiting cultural characteristics of male and female. The term is specifically used to refute the concept of only two genders.

PANSEXUAL, OMNISEXUAL: Terms used to describe people who have romantic, sexual, or affectional desire for people of all genders and sexes. Used by many in place of “bisexual,” which implies that only two sexes or genders exist.

POLYGENDERED, PANGENDERED: Exhibiting characteristics of multiple genders; deliberately refuting the concept of only two genders.

QUEER: Anyone who chooses to identify as such. This can include, but is not limited to, gays, lesbians, bisexuals, transgendered people, intersex people, asexual people, allies, leather fetishists, freaks, etc. Not all the people in the above subcategories I.D. as queer, and many people NOT in the above groups DO. This term has different meanings to different people. Some still find it offensive, while others reclaim it to encompass the broader sense of history of the gay rights movement. Can also be used as an umbrella term like LGBT, as in “the queer community.”

SAME GENDER LOVING: A term used by some African-American people who love, date, and/or have attraction to people of the same gender. Often used by those who prefer to distance themselves from the terms they see as associated with the white-dominated queer communities.

SEX: A categorization based on the appearance of genitalia at birth. Refers to the biological characteristics chosen to assign humans as male, female, or intersex.

SEXUALITY: The components of a person that include their biological sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, sexual practices, etc.

SEXUAL ORIENTATION: an enduring emotional, romantic, sexual, and/or affectional attraction. Terms include homosexual, heterosexual, bisexual, pansexual, non-monosexual, queer, and asexual, and may apply to varying degrees. Sexual orientation is fluid, and people use a variety of labels to describe their own. Sometimes sexual preference is used but can be problematic as it implies choice.

STRAIGHT: A person (or adjective to describe a person) whose primary sexual and romantic orientation is toward people of the “opposite” gender.

TRANSFAG: A trans male-identified person who is attracted to/loves other male-identified people.

TRANSGENDER: Used most often as an umbrella term, and frequently abbreviated to “trans” or “trans*” (the asterisk indicates the option to fill in the appropriate label, ie. Transman). It describes a wide range of identities and experiences of people whose gender identity and/or expression differs from conventional expectations based on their assigned biological birth sex. Some commonly held definitions:
1 - Someone whose behavior or expression does not “match” their assigned sex according to society. 2 - A gender outside of the man/woman binary. 3 - Having no gender or multiple genders. 4 - Some definitions also include people who perform gender or play with it. 5 - Historically, the term was coined to designate a transperson who was not undergoing medical transition (surgery or hormones).

TRANSITION: An individualized process by which transsexual and transgender people ‘switch’ from one gender presentation to another. There are three general aspects to transitioning: social (i.e. name, pronouns, interactions, etc.), medical (i.e. hormones, surgery, etc.), and legal (i.e. gender marker and name change, etc.). A trans* individual may transition in any combination, or none, of these aspects.

TRANSSEXUAL (TS): A person who perceives themselves as a member of a gender that does not “match” the sex they were assigned at birth. Many pursue hormones and/or surgery. Sometimes used to specifically refer to trans* people pursuing gender or sex reassignment.

TRANS MAN: Also referred to as FTM.

TRANSPHOBIA: A reaction of fear, loathing, and discriminatory treatment of people whose identity or gender presentation (or perceived gender or gender identity) does not “match,” in the societally accepted way, the sex they were assigned at birth. Transgendered people, intersex people, lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, and other non-monosexuals are typically the target of transphobia.

TRANS WOMAN: Also referred to as MTF.

TRYKE: A trans female-identified person who is attracted to/loves other female-identified people.

TWO SPIRIT: These terms describe indigenous people who fulfill one of many mixed gender roles found traditionally among many Native Americans and Canadian First Nations indigenous groups. These roles included wearing the clothing and performing the work that is traditional for both men and women. Dual-gendered, or “two-spirited,” people are viewed differently in different Native communities. Sometimes they are seen without stigma and are considered emissaries from the creator, treated with deference and respect, or even considered sacred, but other times this is not the case. “Two-spirit” is the closest thing to an appropriate umbrella term in referring to these gender traditions among Native peoples. However, even “two-spirit” is contested in modern usage.

WOMYN: Some people spell the word with a “y” as a form of empowerment to move away from the word “men” contained in the “traditional” spelling of women.

Borrowed from Patrick Califia, Emi Koyama and countless others.