LGBTQ+ Glossary

Agender: Describes a person who identifies as having no gender.


Ally: A person who supports and stands up for the rights of LGBT people.


Androgyne: A person with physical traits of male and female


Aromantic: An orientation that describes a person who experiences little or no romantic attraction to others and/or a lack of interest in forming romantic relationships.


Asexual: 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 asexual people do have sex. There are many diverse ways of being asexual.


Assigned sex at birth: The sex (male or female) assigned to a child at birth, most often based on the child’s external anatomy. Also referred to as birth sex, natal sex, biological sex, or sex.


Bigender: Having two genders, exhibiting cultural characteristics of masculine and feminine roles


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.


Bottom surgery: Colloquial way of describing gender affirming genital surgery.


Cisgender: a gender identity, or performance in a gender role, that society deems to match the person’s assigned sex at birth. The prefix cis- means "on this side of" or "not across." A term used to call attention to the privilege of people who are not transgender.


Cross Dresser (CD): A word to describe a person who dresses, at least partially, as a member of a gender other than their assigned sex; carries no implications of sexual orientation. Has replaced “Transvestite”


Cross-sex hormone therapy: The administration of hormones for those who wish to match their physical secondary sex characteristics to their gender identity.


Demisexual: Demisexuality is a sexual orientation in which someone feels sexual attraction only to people with whom they have an emotional bond. Most demisexuals feel sexual attraction rarely compared to the general population, and some have little to no interest in sexual activity. Demisexuals are considered to be on the asexual spectrum, meaning they are closely aligned with asexuality.


Disorders of Sex Development (DSD): Group of rare conditions where the reproductive organs and genitals do not develop as expected. Some DSDs include Klinefelter Syndrome and Androgen Sensitivity Syndrome: Sometimes called differences of sex development. Some people prefer to use the term intersex.


Gay: A sexual and affectional orientation toward people of the same gender; can be used as an umbrella term for men and women.


Gender: A social construct used to classify a person as a man, woman, or some other identity.


Gender affirming surgery (GAS): Surgeries used to modify one’s body to be more congruent with one’s gender identity. Also referred to as sex reassignment surgery (SRS) or gender confirming surgery (GCS).


Gender binary: The idea that there are only two genders, male and female, and that a person must strictly fit into one category or the other.


Gender dysphoria: Distress experienced by some individuals whose gender identity does not correspond with their assigned sex at birth. Manifests itself as clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) includes gender dysphoria as a diagnosis.


Gender Expression: How one expresses oneself, in terms of dress and/or behaviors that society characterizes as "masculine,” “feminine,” or “androgynous.” Gender expression does not necessarily correspond to assigned sex at birth or gender identity.


Gender fluid: Describes a person whose gender identity is not fixed. A person who is gender fluid may always feel like a mix of the two traditional genders, but may feel more one gender some days, and another gender other days.


Gender identity: A person’s internal sense of being a man/male, woman/female, both, neither, or another gender.


Gender Outlaw: A person who refuses to be defined by conventional definitions of male and female.


Gender Non-conforming (GNC): people who do not subscribe to gender expressions or roles expected of them by society.


Gender role: A set of societal norms dictating what types of behaviors are generally considered acceptable, appropriate or desirable for a person based on their actual or perceived sex.


Gender Queer: 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 of them.


Gender Variant: A person who varies from the expected characteristics of the assigned gender.

Heterosexuality: A sexual orientation in which a person feels physically and emotionally attracted to people of a gender other than their own.


Homosexual/Homosexuality: An outdated term to describe a sexual orientation in which a person feels physically and emotionally attracted to people of the same gender. Historically, it was a term used to pathologize gay and lesbian people.


Intersex: People who naturally (that is, without any medical intervention) develop primary or secondary sex characteristics that do not fit neatly into society's definitions of male or female. Many visibly Intersex people are mutilated in infancy and early childhood by doctors to make the individual’s sex characteristics conform to society’s idea of what normal bodies should look like. Intersex people are relatively common, although the society's denial of their existence has allowed very little room for intersex issues to be discussed publicly. Hermaphrodite is an outdated and inaccurate term that has been used to describe intersex people in the past.


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


Men who have sex with men/Women who have sex with women (MSM/WSW): Categories that are often used in research and public health settings to collectively describe those who engage in same-sex sexual behavior, regardless of their sexual orientation. However, people rarely use the terms MSM or WSW to describe themselves.


Monogamy: Having only one intimate partner at any one time.


Monosexual: People who have romantic, sexual, or affectional desire for one gender only. Heterosexuality and homosexuality are the most well-known forms of monosexuality.


Neutrois: A non-binary gender identity that falls under the genderqueer or transgender umbrellas. There is no one definition of Neutrois, since each person that self-identifies as such experiences their gender differently. The most common ones are: Neutral-gender, Null-gender, Neither male nor female, Genderless and/or Agender.


Non-monosexual: people who are attracted to more than one gender.


Omnigender: Possessing all genders. The term is used specifically 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.


Polyamory: Denotes consensually being in/open to multiple loving relationships at the same time. Some polyamorists (polyamorous people) consider “poly” to be a relationship orientation. Sometimes used as an umbrella term for all forms of ethical, consensual, and loving non-monogamy.

Polygender, Pangender: 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, gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, intersex and asexual people. 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." Some transgender people express concern that “queer” only applies to sexual orientation.


Questioning: The process of exploring one’s own gender identity, gender expression, and/or sexual orientation. Some folks may also use this term to name their identity within the LGBTQIA community.


Same gender loving (SGL): A term used as an alternative to the terms gay and lesbian. SGL is more commonly but not exclusively used by members of the African American/Black community.


Same-sex attraction (SSA): A term that is used to describe the experience of a person who is emotionally and/or sexually attracted to people of the same gender. Individuals using this term may not feel comfortable using the language of sexual orientation (i.e., gay, lesbian, bisexual) for personal reasons. Use of this term is not indicative of a person’s sexual behavior. It is used most commonly in religious communities.


Sex: a medically constructed categorization based on the appearance of the genitalia at birth.


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


Sexual Orientation: Sexual Orientation is an enduring emotional, romantic, sexual or affectional attraction or non-attraction to other people. Sexual orientation is fluid and people use a variety of labels to describe their sexual orientation.


Top surgery: Colloquial way of describing gender affirming surgery on the chest.


Trans man: A person may choose to identify this way to capture their gender identity as well as their lived experience as a transgender person. Some trans men may also use the term FTM or F2M to describe their identity.


Trans woman: A person may choose to identify this way to capture their gender identity as well as their lived experience as a transgender person. Some transwomen may also use MTF or M2F to describe their identity.

Transgender: Adjective used most often as an umbrella term, and frequently abbreviated to “trans” or “transman/transwoman”. 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 sex at birth.


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: Sometimes used in medical literature or by some transgender people to describe those who have transitioned through medical interventions.


Transvestite: This is an outdated and problematic term due to its historical use as a diagnosis for medical/mental health disorders. Cross Dresser has replaced transvestite, see above definition.


Two-Spirit (adj.) – A contemporary term that connects today's experiences of LGBT Native American and American Indian people with the traditions from their cultures.


Outdated Terms to Avoid:
The following terms may have been used in the past, but are now considered outdated and sometimes offensive. We recommend replacing these words with the suggested terms provided.
Berdache > See two-spirit.
Hermaphroditen > See intersex/disorders of sex development.
Homosexual > See gay or lesbian.
Sexual preference > See sexual orientation.
Transgendered/A transgender/Tranny > See transgender.
Sex change > See gender affirmation surgery.